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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 2. General Introduction 3. Questions of textual reconstruction 3.2. Dating of poetry and principles of normalisation 3.2.3. Normalisation of Old Norse-Icelandic words, names and place names

3.2.3. Normalisation of Old Norse-Icelandic words, names and place names

Kari Ellen Gade 2012, ‘Normalisation of Old Norse-Icelandic words, names and place names’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. l-li.

The SkP editions routinely render the spellings of personal names and other Old Norse-Icelandic words in the skalds’ Biographies (including the sigla for skalds and poems), as well as in the Translations and Notes, according to the norms of thirteenth-century (pre-1250) orthography. Hence the spelling of many names that appear in the Text of an edition will differ from the spelling of the names in the English Translation and Notes. In Sigv Berv 1/2II, for example, the Text reads Sighvatr hefr gram lattan but the Translation uses the form Sigvatr (literally ‘Sigvatr has lord dissuaded’), because medial ‑h- was lost in compounds when the h formed the onset of the second element (e.g. Sig-hvatr > Sig-vatr, ANG §294). Similarly, long vowels were shortened before consonant clusters (see above), which resulted in such pairs as Þórmóðr and Þormóðr, Oddi lítli and Oddi litli. Conversely, short vowels were lengthened in certain environments (see above), yielding Þjóðolfr and Þjóðólfr, Kalfr and Kálfr, Ulfr and Úlfr. For the different forms of the name Óláfr, see above. Scandinavian ethnic names are also normalised according to these principles, hence Hǫrðar, Þrœndir, but Hólmbúar (< Holmbúar). For the treatment of place names in the Translations, see §2.4 above; elsewhere in the edition, place names are given in their Old Norse-Icelandic or modern forms, or both, as appropriate.


  1. Bibliography
  2. ANG = Noreen, Adolf. 1923. Altnordische Grammatik I: Altisländische und altnorwegische Grammatik (Laut- und Flexionslehre) unter Berücksichtigung des Urnordischen. 4th edn. Halle: Niemeyer. 1st edn. 1884. 5th unrev. edn. 1970. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
  3. SkP = Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols.
  4. Internal references
  5. Kari Ellen Gade (ed.) 2009, ‘Sigvatr Þórðarson, Bersǫglisvísur 1’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 12-14.

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