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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon (FoGT) 19III

[5] lær heitir á læru ‘… is named from …’: No fully convincing explanation of these two nouns has been proposed. Finnur Jónsson (Skj B) was unable to come up with anything, while Kock (Skald and NN §1445) and FoGT 2004 adopt lær in the sense ‘thigh, upper leg’. Lær must be sg., as the verb heitir is sg., which rules out Sveinbjörn Egilsson’s suggestion (SnE 1848-87, II, 216-17 nn. 9 and 10) that lær stands for lœr, pl. of ‘golden plover’. He further proposed that læru could be a variant of léru = leiru ‘mudflat, muddy shore’, but this is highly improbable both phonologically and ecologically (cf. FoGT 1884, 266-8 n. 4). Another hypothesis is that the form læru or lœru may be dat. sg. of a noun that occurs in SnE in a list of pejorative terms for men, viz. leyra (SnE 1998, I, 106, 224-5, II, 345: leyra or løra or løri; cf. AEW: løra and discussion), which appears in various spellings in the mss and seems to mean ‘degenerate person’ or ‘coward’. The sense of l. 5 might then be ‘a thigh is so-called on a degenerate man’ (i.e. just as it is on other men), but this interpretation is really clutching at straws. Jón Helgason (1970, 213-14) postulated a *lór ‘sluggishness, inactivity’ as the basis for the mutated noun lœra, later læra ‘degenerate, good-for-nothing’, giving the sense ‘*lór (sluggishness) is named from/derives from læra (a degenerate, good-for-nothing)’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. SnE 1848-87 = Snorri Sturluson. 1848-87. Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: Edda Snorronis Sturlaei. Ed. Jón Sigurðsson et al. 3 vols. Copenhagen: Legatum Arnamagnaeanum. Rpt. Osnabrück: Zeller, 1966.
  4. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  6. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  7. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  8. FoGT 1884 = Björn Magnússon Ólsen, ed. 1884. Den tredje og fjærde grammatiske afhandling i Snorres Edda tilligemed de grammatiske afhandlingers prolog og to andre tillæg. SUGNL 12. Copenhagen: Knudtzon.
  9. FoGT 2004 = Longo, Michele, ed. [2004]. ‘Il Quarto Trattato Grammaticale Islandese: Testo, Traduzione e Commento’. Dottorato di Ricerca in ‘Linguistica Sincronica e Diacronica’ (XV Ciclo). Palermo: Università degli Studi di Palermo, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia.
  10. Jón Helgason. 1970a. ‘Þriðji íhaldskarl’. Fróðskaparrit 18, 206-26.
  11. Internal references
  12. Edith Marold 2017, ‘Snorra Edda (Prologue, Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál)’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].


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