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Runic Dictionary

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(subheadings only)

1. Old Norse-Icelandic Technical Terms

aðalhending, combination of two syllables participating in full internal rhyme (identical vowels and postvocalic environment) within a skaldic poetic l. Normally aðalhending occurs in even ll. (so ll. 2, 4, 6 and 8) of a dróttkvætt or hrynhent st.
áttmælt, ‘eight-times spoken’, a dróttkvætt st. in which each of the eight ll. contains a separate cl.
bálkr, ‘section’, a longer poem containing narrative sections
bragarmál, poetic diction characterised by cliticisation, i.e. the suffixation of unstressed particles and pronouns, usually with loss of vowel
drápa, long encomiastic skaldic poem with stef
dróttkvætt, ‘court poetry’, the most common metre used in skaldic poetry, comprising sts of eight hexasyllabic ll., regular alliteration and hendingar (skothending in odd ll. and aðalhending in even ones)
erfidrápa, ‘memorial poem’, encomium commemorating a deceased person
flokkr, long skaldic poem without stef
fornyrðislag ‘old story metre’, ON development of the common Gmc alliterative long-l.
Haðarlag, ‘Hǫðr’s metre’, regularised málaháttr ll. with internal rhyme (skothending in odd ll. and aðalhending in even ones)
hagmælt, ‘skillfully spoken’, fornyrðislag with internal rhyme (skothending in odd ll. and aðalhending in even ones)
hálfhnept, ‘half-curtailed’, a skaldic metre in which the odd and even ll. are made up of five to seven syllables (rarely four). Each l. ends in a heavy monosyllable preceded by another heavy monosyllable or two resolved short syllables. The odd ll. have two alliterative staves and the even ll. one stave, which falls on the first lift. The metre is characterised by internal rhymes following the patters of dróttkvætt (skothending in odd ll. and aðalhending in even ones). The second hending always falls on the last syllable of the l. No traditional metrical patterns can account adequately for the rhythm of hálfhnept.
háttlausa, ‘lack of form’, a form of dróttkvætt lacking internal rhyme
háttr, metre, verse-form (lit. ‘mode, manner’)
heiti, poetic synonym, an alternative and often descriptive term or name for a frequently-occurring object or person mentioned in skaldic poetry, e.g. skævaðr ‘high-strider’ for ‘horse’, Yggr, an alternative name for the god Óðinn.
helmingr (pl. helmingar), a half-st. of normally four ll.
hending (pl. hendingar), lit. ‘catching’, a syllable participating, with one other, in full internal rhyme (aðalhending) or partial rhyme (skothending) within a verse of a skaldic poem
hrynhent, ‘flowing rhymed’, a skaldic metre, an expanded version of dróttkvætt in which each l. contains eight syllables
hǫfuðstafr, ‘head (main) stave’, chief alliterating stave fixed in initial position of even ll. of regular dróttkvætt and hrynhent sts
kenning, a nominal periphrasis, consisting of a base-word and one or more determinants
klofastef, ‘split refrain’, a refrain (stef) in a skaldic encomium that has been split into individual ll. that appear separately in different sts, usually as the first or the last l. of a st.
kviðlingr, a snippet of poetry, usually no more than two ll.
kviðuháttr, a skaldic metre (a variant of fornyrðislag) in which the odd ll. consist of three syllables and the even ll. of four syllables
lausavísa (pl. lausavísur), ‘loose stanza’, a separate st. or part thereof which does not belong to a long poem
ljóðaháttr, ‘song metre’, a six-l. metre in which ll. 1-2 and 4-5 alliterate, while ll. 3 and 6 alliterate internally
málaháttr, ‘speech metre’, an extended form of fornyrðislag with five metrical positions rather than four
nýgjǫrving, ‘new creation’, a term applied to extending the meaning of words, usually through the use of metaphor in extended kennings
ofljóst, ‘too transparent, excessively clear’, play on words, punning, using homonyms
ókent nafn, noun without periphrasis
rekit, ‘driven’, a kenning of the same type as tvíkent, but extended more than once by the use of kennings as determinants
runhent, skaldic metres employing end rhyme
skothending, combination of two syllables with different vowels and similar postvocalic environments participating in a form of internal rhyme within a skaldic l. Normally skothending occurs in odd ll. (so ll. 1, 3, 5, and 7) of a dróttkvætt or hrynhent st.
slœmr, the concluding section of a poem
stef, refrain of a skaldic drápa
stefjabálkr, middle section of a drápa containing one or more refrains (stef)
stefjamél, each of the sets of sts ending with a refrain, within a stefjabálkr
tvíkent, ‘doubly modified’, an extended kenning in which the determinant is itself a kenning
tøglag, ‘journey metre’, a variant of fornyrðislag in which the even ll. have aðalhending and odd may have skothending
upphaf, ‘beginning’, the opening section of a skaldic poem, the section before the beginning of the stefjabálkr
vísa (pl. vísur), a skaldic st., in pl. often a term used of a long poem lacking refrain (e.g. Sigvatr’s Bersǫglisvísur)
þáttr, ‘strand’, a smaller, independent narrative usually embedded in or added to a saga
þula (pl. þulur), a list of poetic synonyms (heiti) in metrical form

2. Other Technical Terms

apo koinou, construction in which the same element has a role in more than one cl.
base-word, member of a kenning (see above) that is modified by a qualifier, called the determinant
byrnie, a coat of mail
cliticise, to add an enclitic syllable to a word (see enclitic below)
desyllabification, syllabic liquids and nasals developing an excrescent vowel, in Icel. usually involving the addition of [u] before [r]
determinant, qualifier of a base-word in a kenning, consisting either of a noun or name in the genitive or of the first element of a compound
dip, a metrically unstressed syllable
dromon, a large Byzantine warship or merchantman
enclitic, monosyllabic word, usually a particle, verb or pron., added as a suffix to another word (see also cliticise and bragarmál above)
enclitic position, post-position (as opposed to proclitic position)
epenthesis (epenthetic, adj.), a sound, usually a vowel, inserted between two others (see excrescent)
excrescent, a sound, usually a vowel, inserted between two others (see epenthesis)
hypermetrical, a poetic l. containing more syllables (metrical positions) than is normal for the metre in question
hypometrical, a poetic l. containing fewer syllables (metrical positions) than is normal for the metre in question
in spe, expected
lectio difficilior, more difficult reading
lectio facilior, easier reading
lift, a metrically stressed syllable
litotes, understatement, in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite
macrologia, a long sentence containing matter irrelevant to the subject at hand
metonymy, the substitution of a word referring to an attribute or adjunct for the whole thing that is meant
neutralisation, a metrical situation in which two short syllables occupy one unstressed metrical position in a l.
nomen agentis, ‘agent noun’, a noun derived from a verb, denoting a person who is carrying out the action implicit in the verb
paragoge, the lengthening of a word by the addition of a letter or syllable
pars pro toto, part for whole
pleonastic, syllable, word, or phrase that is superfluous
proclitic position, pre-position (as opposed to enclitic position)
referent, the unmentioned cognitive meaning value of a kenning, e.g. the referent of the kenning logi fjarðar ‘flame of the fjord’ is gold
resolution, two short syllables occupying one fully stressed metrical position in a l.
siglum (pl. sigla), abbreviation, usually a combination of alphanumerical symbols, used to designate a specific ms. and/or the collection in which it is found
solecism, soloecismus, grammatical irregularity, e.g. change of tense, pl. used in place of sg.
stanza, a group of poetic ll., arranged according to a regular scheme; one of a series of such groups, which together make up a poem
stemma (pl. stemmata), a diagram representing a reconstruction of the relationships between the surviving and postulated witnesses to a text
tmesis, the separation of a word or cpd into two parts, with another word or words between them
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