Scandinavian onomastics

One of the problems in medieval studies, which has always attracted my attention, is cross-identification of proper names and their bearers in saga-like narratives.

An attempt to get additional historic information from the names of the Norwegian elite of the XII-XIII centuries, the so called lendr menn, is made in my paper from 2007: ‘The Names of Norwegian lendr menn: Heimskringla and Hakonar saga goda’ (Rus. Имена норвежских лендрманнов по “Кругу Земному” и “Саге о Хаконе Старом”) // Onomastikon: Historical Semantics of Proper Names/ Fjodor B.Uspenskij (ed.). Moscow: Indrik, 2007,  36-75; lmpubl1234

Some Sagas were written down shortly after their events took place. Personal names and nicknames in texts of this kind are ranked with different groups, which is linked by different method of quotation. In this respect, arrays of names and nicknames in these Sagas are arranged as relational data-bases. If you define the ranks of names in a medieval text correctly, you will be able to get some narrative implications behind them and find yourself in a position, when you can unfold a data-base or a simple numeration of proper names into a narrative text. I argue that proper names could have text-building functions in Saga narratives and serve as a channel of information. This problem is discussed in my paper given at the 1994 Saga conference in Akureyri, Iceland:nicknames

The principles of naming in remote society are at times accessible to us, if we know some specific information about the names and the namesakes and can get a representative statistics about their distribution in such a society. Do you know, why an Icelandic nobleman of the X-XI centuries, Snorri goði, got the name ‘Snorri’? If you don’t or you think you know, read my arguments: the-name-of-snorri-godi

A more extended version of this analysis, alongside with a survey of the Old Nordic onomastics, may be found in paper Скандинавская ономастика и историческая достоверность published in the 3rd vol. of the Slavo-Germanica studies (2008, 85-120):


One Response to “Scandinavian onomastics”

  1. Brian Guildhurst Says:

    It’s nice to see the similarities between Scandinavian onomastics and Gaelic onomastics. Thanks!

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