[Heralds] Yet another name question

GeekGrrl geekgrrl at geekgrrl.org
Thu May 3 21:57:23 PDT 2001

On Thu, 3 May 2001, Jodi McMaster wrote:

> PoetLover wrote:
> >
> > This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
> > --
> > [ Picked text/plain from multipart/alternative ]
> > Ok, I think I am about to open another can of worms, but here I go anyway. I have another newbie that wants his name to be Odin Silverwolf.
> A good article generally on Viking names (Old Norse) is available at
> http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~sfriedemann/names/sg-viking.htm
> Here's a quote from an old S. Gabriel report on <Odin>:
> The closest name we found was <Odin>, which was used by Scandinavian
> settlers in England. (3) Clark, Cecily.  Words, Names and History:
> Selected Papers, ed. Peter Jackson (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1995).
> http://www.panix.com/~gabriel/public-bin/showfinal.cgi?809+0
> However, it doesn't appear in the list from the Landnamabok.

Since Odin can be documented to a human name in period, I would have to
accept it, no matter how much it personally makes me twitch. :) However,
'Silverwolf' is not an appropriate byname for a Viking Age
construction. Bynames are patronymic, and in rare instances,
matronymic. Even individuals with nicknames had the patronymic element,
though it may have been omitted in time as they became more well-known as,
say, Eirik the Red, then Eirik what's-his-name's-son. Silverwolf does not
sound plausible as a nickname element. I find:

ve{dh}r - Ram, male sheep
v{i'}fill - weevel, beetle
Yxna-(Oxna-) - Oxen-
titlinger - sparrow
t{i'}k - female dog
trani - crane or bird
{u'}lfaldi - camel
Sv{i'}na- - Swine-, Pig-

and so on, in Geirr Bassi (since that was closest to hand). There is plenty
of evidence in my opinion for names like Gorm the Ram, or even Odin the Wolf
based on nicknaming after other types of animals, but I see no examples
indicating a color modifier to the animal name. Such a name would imply that
Gorm had ram-like characteristcs (negative or positive) and that Odin had
wolf-like ones. Perhaps they would consider dropping 'silver'?

'Odin the Wolf', since Odin is the normalized modern spelling, or
'{O'}{dh}inn ulfr', I would tentatively put it as. A noun (ulfr) used as
a nickname follows the name but is not modified by 'inn'. (The Old Norse
Name, Geirr Bassi, page 18-19).


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