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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

3. Eilífr Goðrúnarson, 1. Þórsdrápa, 7 [Vol. 3, 89]

[2] málhvettan ‘chattering’: Lit. ‘speech-whetted’. This must be a metaphor for the roaring of a river; cf. Davidson (1983, 590), who points to river-heiti that consist of words for ‘storm’, ‘thunder’ or ‘tempest’. Hvettr is taken here as p. p. of the weak verb hvetja ‘sharpen, encourage’, as a parallel, umlauted form of the expected hvattr (ANG §428.2; see Reichardt 1948, 349). Other interpretations: (a) Guðmundur Finnbogason (1924, 176) construes the cpd as málhveptan which, according to him, means ‘speaking pine-trees’. (b) Finnur Jónsson (1900b, 383; Skj B; LP: málhvettr), emends hvettan R, W (‘hveican’ ) to ‑hvettar and derives it from an ON *hvetta ‘knock over’ (cf. New Norw. kvetta, see Torp 1963, 348). According to him, this p. p. qualifies the stones (-vǫlur) that make noises when knocked. Because of the emendation, the overly complex word order and the assumption that ‑vǫlur means ‘stones’, that suggestion is unlikely. (c) Kock (NN §447, followed by Kiil 1956, 112) connects málhvettan m. acc. sg. with bur markar (so mss and W), understood as a Þórr-kenning (‘son of the earth’; cf. sonr Jarðar ‘son of Jǫrð (= earth)’ in Þjóð Haustl 14/6), and he translates málhvettan as ‘urged to meet’. Aside from the fact that mǫrk ‘forest, terrain, ground’ is never attested in skaldic poetry as a heiti for Jǫrð, Þórr’s mother, Kock’s suggestion, ‘they set their spears in the ground before Þórr’, makes no sense in the context.

references

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