[Heralds] German/Norse name for Destiny

GeekGrrl geekgrrl at geekgrrl.org
Fri May 4 07:17:23 PDT 2001

On Fri, 4 May 2001, Richard Culver wrote:

> > >   A good number probably were literally understood.  Cyneweard meaning
> > > "kin-ward" was probably an expressed hope.
> >
> >This example is from another culture/language. As close as Old English and
> >Old Norse are, they are still far apart enough to differences to arise and
> >one shouldn't be used to justify the other. :)
>   Not so.  They still have a great deal in common particularly between the
> Northern English and the Scandinavians.  In my research, I have found OE and
> its culture maintain many similarities with Old Norse.  They did not
> significantly diverge into separate tongues until about 550 and perhaps
> sometime later.  At any rate, they were not so totally different and still
> are "Germanic" cultures and tongues.  So they are relevant.  Technically Old
> English and Frisian are called in linguistic circles. at least the one I
> read and talk with, as Northwestern Germanic because the hold elements of
> both groups.
>    One of the clergy's complaints of the Northumbrians in the Danelaw is
> there religios practice was not pure enough (the seem to have liked those
> weird things called folk festivals) and they looked to much like the heathen
> who invaded.  One must remember, the Wuffinga dynasty of east Anglia was
> founded by Swedes and maintained that connection up until the Danelaw in art
> and culture.  There were connections like these which allowed for a more
> heroic view of the Geats and Danes for the basis of Beowulf.  Also remember
> the Anglii specifically came from the Angeln district in Southwestern
> Danemark and Northern Germany.
>    Despite what the later Wessex folk may have felt and written in their
> late period the average English person would have had more in common with
> the Scandinavians than the Continental powers like the Franks.

The various Nordic tribes which came into England prior to the Viking Age
did have a lot of influence on the British Isle. There is no doubt of
that. However, there is approximately 150 - 200 years between 550 and the
start of the Viking Age. In a time when lifespans were as long as they are
today, that is certainly enough time for cultural differences and language
changes to be wrought. While the Old Norse of the Viking Age did share
many commonalities with the speakers of Old English, including a common
root to their language, there was a divergance and they did become
seperate and distinct cultures by the time the Viking Age began. Yes, they
could understand each other and shared several things in common, but they
were two people and two languages. A key difference is that a good deal of
the British Isle was already Christian by the start of the Viking Age, and
that is a significant difference in culture and law. The Anglo-Saxons were
not -happy- with their long-lost cousins deciding they wanted a peice of
England too, and paid them to go home. Several times. Then they gave them
a chunk of land in hopes they would stay there and leave everyone else
alone. The Danelaw in Northumbria came to be after the start of the Viking Age
and there were differences between the residents of the Danelaw and the
rest of England and I am sure the Danelaw did cause much hand-wringing among
the clergy because of the unique Norse outlook on practicing Christianity.

Just because a concept exists in Old English does not mean that it
exists in Old Norse. It -can-, but it is not a given. Both cultures had
time to grow apart and add or subtract from things they once had in
common. I absolutely know different things were borrowed back and forth, but
they weren't identical. My own SCA name is from 'Sunngifu', Old English,
borrowed into Old Norse as Sunnifa at about 1000 CE, Norway.* They shared a
common umbrella of being Germanic, but it is like comparing apples and pears.
Both come from trees, you can find both in the same color ranges, and they
both taste sweet, but there is a subtle difference to them.


* OE origin and name meaning wasn't what motivated my decision to choose this
name, though. I didn't even know about it until I was playing around with it
later after I'd filled out the forms. :) I chose it because it sounded similar
enough to my mundane name that I would find it easy to respond to, and it was
a pleasing name to me.

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