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Re: [norse_course] use of neuter

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  • Haukur Þorgeirsson
    Here s my favorite Old Norse Q&A: Hverr deyr? Hjarðar stýrir ; hví? Fyrir sauða lífi ; hvessu? Hekk á krossi ; hvar? Þar er Lazarús jarðask ; hvénær
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 4, 2005
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      Here's my favorite Old Norse Q&A:

      Hverr deyr? Hjarðar stýrir ;
      hví? Fyrir sauða lífi ;
      hvessu? Hekk á krossi ;
      hvar? Þar er Lazarús jarðask ;
      hvénær helzt? At nóni ;
      hverir knúðu at? Júðar ;
      hverr nýtur? Heiðni bötnuð ;
      hvat geldr? Djöfuls veldi.

      Quick and dirty translation:

      Who dies? The shepherd.
      Why? For the life of the sheep.
      How? He hung on a cross.
      Where? Where Lazarus is buried.
      When quite? At "nón".
      Who forced it? Jews.
      Who benefits? Heathendom cured.
      What yields? The devil's power.

      Kveðja,
      Haukur


      > Lots of nice examples in Chapter 2 of Eireks saga víðförla, which is
      > largely a series of questions and answers:
      > ________________________________________________________
      >
      > 1. Eirekr mælti: "Hver er gröf sú, er þú mæltir, at í jörðu væri?"
      > Konungr segir: "Þat er jörð dauðans, er fyrir er búin syndugum
      > mönnum..."
      >
      > E. said, "What is that pit which you said was in the earth?"
      > The king says, "That is the land of death which is prepared for
      > sinful people."
      >
      > hver = feminine, agreeing with 'gröf sú'.
      > þat = neuter, even though 'jörð' is feminine.
      > _______________________________________________________
      >
      > 2. "Hverjar eru þær þrjár greiningar?"
      > "What are those three aspects?"
      >
      > hverjar = fem.pl. of 'hverr'
      > _______________________________________________________
      >
      > 3. "Hverr er sá?"
      > "Who is that?"
      >
      > Both masculine.
      > _______________________________________________________
      >
      > But 'hvat er...?' introduces those questions where Eirek doesn't
      > know what gender the answer will be. Also used when someone does
      > know but is being a bit distainful. Both these examples refer to
      > people, the first from Arrow-Odd's Saga (Örvar-Odds saga), the
      > second spoken by Loki in the Eddic poem Lokasenna:
      >
      > 4. "Hvat er þat?" sagði Oddr.
      > "Þat er skjaldmær (f.), er lengi hefir mér fylgt," sagði konungr,
      >
      > "What is that?" said Oddr.
      > "She's a shield-maiden who has been with me for a long time," says
      > the king,
      >
      > 5. hvat er þat it litla
      > "what is that little [puny] thing"
      > ______________________________________________________
      >
      > ON Online, 35 [ http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/lrc/eieol/norol-7-
      > X.html#Nor07_GP35 ], "In the later language 'er' is found combined
      > with the interrogative pronouns to produce relative pronouns, e.g.
      > hverr er '(he) who, whoever'; hvárr er 'whoever (of two)'; hvat(ki)
      > er 'whatever'; etc. This usage is an innovation in ON, imitative of
      > Latin."
      >
      > I guess that applies to the following example from Eireks saga
      > víðförla, which was written (in this form at least) by a priest and
      > inspired by the Eleucidarius a collection of ecclesiastical lore
      > translated from Latin into Icelandic in the 12th century:
      >
      > En til þess at ek fylli spurning þína, þá heyr þú, hvat er ek segi
      > þér, ok nem eptir.
      >
      > But so that I may answer your question, hear what I say and learn.
      > _________________________________________________________
      > _________________________________________________________
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, "llama_nom" <600cell@o...>
      > wrote:
      >
      >> Síðan gerði hann myrkvastofu; þat er þessi heimr, er vér byggjum.
      >> "Then he made a dungeon; that is this world which we inhabit."
      >> ('myrkvastofa' "dungeon" = feminine; þat = neuter; 'þessi
      >> heimr' "this world" = masculine).
      >>
      >> Þat er ómennska ef maðr gengr með húsum fyrir nenningarleysis
      > sakir
      >> eða ókosta annarra þeira er góðir menn vilja fyrir þeim sökum eigi
      >> hafa þau.
      >> "It is ''perversity'' if a person goes from house to house because
      >> of indolence or other failings which make good men unwilling to
      > have
      >> them."
      >> (A legal definition: 'ómennska' "perversity" = feminine).
      >>
      >> Þat er hin þriðja náttúra jarðar, þá er hon er opnuð ok grafin, þá
      >> groer gras á þeiri moldu er efst er á jörðunni.
      >> "That/this/it is the third property of earth, [that] when it is
      >> opened up and dug, grass grows on that soil which is uppermost on
      >> the earth."
      >> (þat = neuter; hin þriðja náttura = feminine; hon = feminine,
      >> referring to 'jörð' "earth".)
      >>
      >>
      >> Neuter also used as default where the reference is abstract and
      > not
      >> to any particular noun: 'þat er sagt' "it is said". Similarly
      > with
      >> adjectives. Here's a curious quote:
      >>
      >> ok er því gott góðu at trúa, en illt er at trúa illu, þótt satt sé
      >> "and so it is good to believe in good things, but bad to believe
      > in
      >> bad things, even if they are true" (!) [
      >> http://narrowshore.blogspot.com/2004/11/tt-satt-s-again-with-
      >> information.html ].
      >>
      >> With people, 'hverr' "who" may be used: 'Hverr er sá maðr, er svá
      > er
      >> spurull?' "who is that who is so curious/questioning?" (The
      > 2nd 'er'
      >> here is the relative, the 3rd = "is".) But even when the
      > referrence
      >> is to a noun that is clearly animate and grammatically non-
      >> neuter, 'hvat' may be used together with the genitive plural:
      >>
      >> hvat er þat fiska?
      >> "what fish is that" (literally "what [one] of fishes").
      >>
      >> hvat er þat manna?
      >> "what man is that", "what sort of a man is that", "who is that"
      >>
      >> hvat manna ertu?
      >> "what sort of a man/person" are you", "who [exactly] are you"
      >> (the answer might include any or all of details such as name,
      >> lineage, status/occupation (king, beggar, etc.), place of origin,
      >> country ruled over, etc.)
      >>
      >> Also dat. sg. is possible: hvat er þat drykki? "what drink is
      > that"
      >> (what sort of a drink is that). But the genitive constrction
      > seems
      >> to be more common.
      >>
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > A Norse funny farm, overrun by smart people.
      >
      > Homepage: http://www.hi.is/~haukurth/norse/
      >
      > To escape from this funny farm try rattling off an e-mail to:
      >
      > norse_course-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • llama_nom
      Yeah, that s nice. How could it not be true: it s so symmetrical! It reminds me of the Mystery Plays and all those great childlike Middle English lyrics.
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 7, 2005
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        Yeah, that's nice. How could it not be true: it's so symmetrical!
        It reminds me of the Mystery Plays and all those great childlike
        Middle English lyrics. Thinks: I wonder if you copied it from here
        [ http://skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au/db.php?table=verses&id=1520 ].
        They too have 'nýtur' in place of standardized ON spelling 'nýtr'.
        Should we let them know?

        Well, since the subject of the Battle of Stiklastaðir has come up
        recently, we´d better have that other Q&A:

        Hverr fell? Hörða stillir.
        Hvar? Þar er karlfólk barðisk.
        Hvénær hneig? At nóni.
        Hver er sök? Öfund vöknuð.
        Hverr vá? Kálfr helt darri.
        Hverir boendu slíks? Þroendir.
        Hvat nýtr? Heilsa bötnuð.
        Hvat sýtir? Fira lýti.

        Who fell? Retinue's commander.
        Where? Where men fought.
        When did he go down? Mid-afternoon.
        What was the cause? Envy roused.
        Who slew? Kálfr held the spear.
        Who requested the like of that? Trondheim folk.
        To what gain? The cause of salvation furthered.
        What grieves? Men's faults.

        (Or "men's disgrace". I'm guessing this is the implication
        of 'heilsa bötnuð', lit. "health/salvation improved, made better",
        by analogy with that other martyrdom).

        LN




        --- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, Haukur Þorgeirsson
        <haukurth@h...> wrote:
        >
        > Here's my favorite Old Norse Q&A:
        >
        > Hverr deyr? Hjarðar stýrir ;
        > hví? Fyrir sauða lífi ;
        > hvessu? Hekk á krossi ;
        > hvar? Þar er Lazarús jarðask ;
        > hvénær helzt? At nóni ;
        > hverir knúðu at? Júðar ;
        > hverr nýtur? Heiðni bötnuð ;
        > hvat geldr? Djöfuls veldi.
        >
        > Quick and dirty translation:
        >
        > Who dies? The shepherd.
        > Why? For the life of the sheep.
        > How? He hung on a cross.
        > Where? Where Lazarus is buried.
        > When quite? At "nón".
        > Who forced it? Jews.
        > Who benefits? Heathendom cured.
        > What yields? The devil's power.
        >
        > Kveðja,
        > Haukur
      • llama_nom
        Or is hvat sýtir rather: what is lamented .
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 7, 2005
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          Or is 'hvat sýtir' rather: "what is lamented".
        • Haukur Þorgeirsson
          ... I got it from Eysteinn, noticed the error after posting and notified Eysteinn of it. Ultimately this skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au comes from our good friend EB
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 7, 2005
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            > Yeah, that's nice. How could it not be true: it's so symmetrical!
            > It reminds me of the Mystery Plays and all those great childlike
            > Middle English lyrics. Thinks: I wonder if you copied it from here
            > [ http://skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au/db.php?table=verses&id=1520 ].
            > They too have 'nýtur' in place of standardized ON spelling 'nýtr'.
            > Should we let them know?

            I got it from Eysteinn, noticed the error after posting and notified
            Eysteinn of it. Ultimately this skaldic.arts.usyd.edu.au comes from our
            good friend EB if I'm not very much mistaken.


            > Well, since the subject of the Battle of Stiklastaðir has come up
            > recently, we´d better have that other Q&A:

            Yes, this is also excellent. Interesting how the rhyme in the second line
            of each stanza goes over word boundaries.

            Also interesting how both stanzas are careful to identify the bad guys
            "Júðar, Þroendir"...

            Kveðja,
            Haukur
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