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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Forað Lv 2VIII (Ket 18)

[4] hverr er sjá inn köpurmáli ‘who is that presumptious-speaking man’: The adj. kǫpurmáll is a hap. leg. but the synonym kǫpurmálugr appears in Ǫrv, where it is used of Ǫrvar-Oddr by the giant Hildir (Ǫrv 1888, 121 and variant reading l. 24). The etymology of kǫpur- is obscure (AEW: kǫpurmáll; ÍO: köpurmáll), but its sense is clearly derogatory, and implies arrogance, defiance and recklessness in the speaker. Giants are often represented in Old Norse literature as using comparable expressions to belittle their opponents (cf. Kommentar II, 190-1 to Hárb 13/5). In Gylf the giant Skrýmir warns Þórr that the people at the abode of the giant-like Útgarðaloki will not tolerate þvílíkum kǫgursveinum kǫpuryrði ‘overbearing speech of such babes in arms’ (SnE 2005, 39); cf. the similar episode in Þiðr ch. 303 (Þiðr 1905-11, I, 362).


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. ÍO = Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon. 1989. Íslensk orðsifjabók. Reykjavík: Orðabók Háskólans.
  4. Kommentar = von See, Klaus et al. 1997-. Kommentar zu den Liedern der Edda. 6 vols (continuing). Heidelberg: Winter.
  5. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  6. Þiðr 1905-11 = Bertelsen, Henrik, ed. 1905-11. Þiðriks saga af Bern. SUGNL 34. Copenhagen: Møller.
  7. Ǫrv 1888 = Boer, R. C., ed. 1888. Ǫrvar-Odds saga. Leiden: Brill.
  8. Þiðr = Þiðreks saga af Bern.
  9. Internal references
  10. 2017, ‘ Anonymous, Ǫrvar-Odds saga’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 8. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 804. <> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  11. (forthcoming), ‘ Snorri Sturluson, Gylfaginning’ in Kari Ellen Gade and Edith Marold (eds), Poetry from Treatises on Poetics. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 3. Turnhout: Brepols, p. . <> (accessed 25 September 2021)
  12. Not published: do not cite ()


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