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Re: ON Totemic personal names

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  • akoddsson
    Sael Patti. ... studied - I would say that Onomastics has been a lasting favourite. I am utterly fascinated by the old, heathen naming practice. Here and there
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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      Sael Patti.

      > Saell Konrad
      > This sounds really interesting - among many subjects I have
      studied - I would say that Onomastics has been a lasting favourite.

      I am utterly fascinated by the old, heathen naming practice. Here and
      there there are folk with a real interest names, I suppose. I think
      they tell us more than almost anything else about a folk, taken
      collectively.

      > I have heard the name Asbjorn and can see that is is some kind of
      Bear but in one of the Sagas that we have translated on this Group -
      there was a young Chieftain Jarl - whose name was translated as the
      HearthBear - do you know who that was. I am not sure if it was
      Asbjorn or not

      The personal name Jarl is the same as English Earl. Still used, I
      think. I recall seeing some years ago that a guitar player on a
      record by the rock-artist David Bowie was named Earl Slick. An early
      and important American jazz-pianist bore the name Earl Hines. He was
      a pioneer, and played with Louis Armstrong during the 1920s, and
      again during the 1950s. It is from Proto-Norse Erilaz, and refers to
      some kind of public official, whose fuction is not fully understood
      any longer. Later, it was used by Haraldr Harfagri Halfdanarson in
      Norway as the title of his district-rulers, whom he set in place of
      the old kings of the formerly i9ndependent kingdoms after he had
      conquered and subjected them. Originally, the Norwegian chieftains
      were called hersir, pl. hersar, which means army-leader. Folk were
      organized as armies in ancient times. He likely appointed the chief
      priest of the nation, called alls herjar godi, the priest of the
      whole army, who sacrificed for the folk according to the law at
      appointed times of the year. Hersir also occurs as a personal name in
      Rigsthula, but I have not found it elsewhere. Jarl is a category of
      names I will mention, occupational names, where folk were simply
      called after occupations and types of men, apparently irrespective of
      whether of not they had those occuptions. Totemic, I think. Asbjorn
      is from Proto-Norse *Ansubernuz, a u-stem, and is simply the man's
      name Bjorn plus a prefix As- (before about 1150 still Os, long hooked-
      o from u-mutation), meaning 'god', one of the aesir (the ON gods that
      came with the Indo-Europeans to Scandinavia about 4000BC). Remember
      that in ON inherited compound names, the second element is the main
      element, even if the second element is partly or fully obscured in ON
      due to linguistic loss.

      -Konrad
    • akoddsson
      Sael again. ... our English Surname Thorburn may have descended from Thorbjorn I believe it seems likely Patricia ... Names that took the prfix Thor- were
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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        Sael again.

        > I clicked Send - a trifle too soon I want to hazard a guess that
        our English Surname "Thorburn" may have descended from Thorbjorn I
        believe it seems likely Patricia

        > Indeed, it is. And Thursten or Thurstin is from ON Thorsteinn.
        Names that took the prfix Thor- were extremely popular during the
        Viking Age proper, but only among heathen Scandinavians. About 1 of
        4 names Norse settlers in the Icelandic Landnamabok had the element
        in their name, either as Thor- or -thorr. This reflects Norwegian
        conditions, but the names were also extremely common in Denmark and
        Sweden. A few did not make it to Iceland (Thormarr, etc.), as they
        were typically borne by the East Norse, although Thormar was later
        adopted in Iceland also. Other Germanics were Christian at the time,
        and did not share in the wildly popular develpoment of the Thor-
        element in personal names, even if they still had many heathen names
        from their own forefathers in use. Osbourne is, for instance, an
        English name, which would have come to England with the Anglo-Saxon
        settlers, who bore name in Os-, Elf- and so forth, but apparently not
        in Thunor-. They believed in the OE god Thunor, and worshipped this
        god, likely fervently, but it appears that only the more generic,
        abstract god-names that could refer to any god were typically used by
        Germanic in general. In Proto-Norse were have attested Ansugastiz and
        Ansugislaz, two men's names unattesed in ON, despite ON names with
        the prefix As- (But compare Thorgestr, Torgisl ot Thorgils). These
        are beautiful names, but after the conversion one would not expect
        them to be re-introduced, and, indeed, they were not, even if the
        real thing (they are). No one knows why the Thor- element took over
        with such fervour, or even when this development began. Our Proto-
        Norse sources are so few, that although the element does not occur
        there in personal names, we cannot say that it did not occur. But it
        is clear from comparative Germanic evidence that the popularity of
        the element Thor- in personal names in an ON development, and rooted
        in the then current religion, later made obsolete. It is simply due
        to their extreme popularity that these names survive at all in
        Christian times, when almost all heathen names are lost. One can
        understand the mindset when one considers that one of the greatest
        authorites on nordic names in modern times, the Norwegian scholar
        Eivind Vagslid, insists on intrepreting the element as meaning
        something like tough, brave, enduring, etc., following some fancy
        about how the Norse were simply innocent fishermen and farmers with
        no religion, who happily and willingly saw the light and became
        Christian at the mere mention of the word. I wonder how folk in
        midieaval times dealt with these names? Anyway, I think we need to be
        objective in looking at this material, and in this case admit that
        some ON god *Thorr was at least somewhat popular during the Viking
        Age! But let us not forget, the second element is the main element,
        and not all names compound with Thor- as a prefix or -thorr as a
        suffix. The overwhelming, extreme majority of ON names do not. That
        is another reason why we need to look first at the basic, one-element
        names to understand them, and their way of seeing the world. ON could
        do wonderful things with suffixes, as we will see, and even though
        this was dying out in ON, being truly active in Proto Norse, ON could
        still work magic with suffixes when it wanted too.

        -Konrad
      • Patti (Wilson)
        My Neighbour who lives in opposite from me - is a Mrs Thornton - surely that might be a Viking name I must make a note of these - print off maybe - this would
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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          My Neighbour who lives in opposite from me - is a Mrs Thornton - surely that might be a Viking name
          I must make a note of these - print off maybe - this would be an interesting addition to my studies
          I hope to be back working with this group in the not-too-distant Future
          Kveðja
          Patricia 
           
          -------Original Message-------
           
          From: akoddsson
          Date: 11/01/2009 17:04:11
          Subject: [norse_course] Re: ON Totemic personal names
           
          Saell again.
           
          > I clicked Send - a trifle too soon I want to hazard a guess that our
          English Surname "Thorburn" may have descended from Thorbjorn I believe
          it seems likely
          > Patricia
           
          Indeed, it is. And Thursten or Thurstin is from ON Thorsteinn. Names
          that took the prfix Thor- were extremely popular during the Viking Age
          proper, but only among heathen Scandinavians. About 1 of 4 names Norse
          settlers in the Icelandic Landnamabok had the element in their name,
          either as Thor- or -thorr. This reflects Norwegian conditions, but the
          names were also extremely common in Denmark and Sweden. A few did not
          make it to Iceland (Thormarr, etc.), as they were typically borne by
          the East Norse, although Thormar was later adopted in Iceland also.
          Other Germanics were Christian at the time, and did not share in the
          wildly popular develpoment of the Thor-element in personal names, even
          if they still had many heathen names from their own forefathers in use.
          Osbourne is, for instance, an English name, which would have come to
          England with the Anglo-Saxon settlers, who bore name in Os-, Elf- and
          so forth, but apparently not in Thunor-. They believed in the OE god
          Thunor, and worshipped this god, likely fervently, but it appears that
          only the more generic, abstract god-names that could refer to any god
          were typically used by Germanic in general. In Proto-Norse were have
          attested Ansugastiz and Ansugislaz, two men's names unattesed in ON,
          despite ON names with the prefix As- (But compare Thorgestr, Torgisl ot
          Thorgils). These are beautiful names, but after the conversion one
          would not expect them to be re-introduced, and, indeed, they were not,
          even if the real thing (they are). No one knows why the Thor- element
          took over with such fervour, or even when this development began. Our
          Proto-Norse sources are so few, that although the element does not
          occur there in personal names, we cannot say that it did not occur. But
          it is clear from comparative Germanic evidence that the popularity of
          the element Thor- in personal names in an ON development, and rooted in
          the then current religion, later made obsolete. It is simply due to
          their extreme popularity that these names survive at all in Christian
          times, when almost all heathen names are lost. One can understand the
          mindset when one considers that one of the greatest authorites on
          nordic names in modern times, the Norwegian scholar Eivind Vagslid,
          insists on intrepreting the element as meaning something like tough,
          brave, enduring, etc., following some fancy about how the Norse were
          simply innocent fishermen and farmers with no religion, who happily and
          willingly saw the light and became Christian at the mere mention of the
          word. I wonder how folk in midieaval times dealt with these names?
          Anyway, I think we need to be objective in looking at this material,
          and in this case admit that some ON god *Thorr was at least somewhat
          popular during the Viking Age! But let us not forget, the second
          element is the main element, and not all names compound with Thor- as a
          prefix or -thorr as a suffix. The overwhelming, extreme majority of ON
          names do not. That is another reason why we need to look first at the
          basic, one-element names to understand them, and their way of seeing
          the world. ON could do wonderful things with suffixes, as we will see,
          and even though this was dying out in ON, being truly active in Proto
          Norse, ON could still work magic with suffixes when it wanted too.
           
          -Konrad
           
           
           
          ------------------------------------
           
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        • Scott
          While Thursten is a no-brainer (the obvious is accurate), Thornton is not Norse but good AS: there are 31 listings in Watts’ Cambridge Dictionary of English
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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            While Thursten is a no-brainer (the obvious is accurate), Thornton is not Norse but good AS: there

            are 31 listings in Watts’ Cambridge Dictionary of  English Place-Names for ‘ Thornton ’ “settlement

            with a thorn hedge.”   The locative is the sole source quoted by Reaney & Wilson’s Dictionary of

            English Surnames—a book that tries to give all known etymologies for each surname—many have

            two and some three or more; Thornton has but the one.  Damily histories may say otherwise, but

            I have read far too many imaginative genealogies and name explanations: one of favorites was

            ‘Wooten’—so-called because he ‘wooten’ obey King George’s orders.

             

            Scott

             

             

            Scott Catledge,PhD/STD

            Professor Emeritus (ret.)

            history & languages

             


            From: norse_course@yahoogroups.com [mailto: norse_course@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of Patti ( Wilson )
            Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 12:19 PM
            To: norse_course@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [norse_course] Re: ON Totemic personal names

             

            My Neighbour who lives in opposite from me - is a Mrs Thornton - surely that might be a Viking name

            I must make a note of these - print off maybe - this would be an interesting addition to my studies

            I hope to be back working with this group in the not-too-distant Future

            Kveðja

            Patricia 

             

            -------Original Message----- --

             

            From: akoddsson

            Date: 11/01/2009 17:04:11

            Subject: [norse_course] Re: ON Totemic personal names

             

            Saell again.

             

            > I clicked Send - a trifle too soon I want to hazard a guess that our

            English Surname "Thorburn" may have descended from Thorbjorn I believe

            it seems likely

            > Patricia

             

            Indeed, it is. And Thursten or Thurstin is from ON Thorsteinn. Names

            that took the prfix Thor- were extremely popular during the Viking Age

            proper, but only among heathen Scandinavians. About 1 of 4 names Norse

            settlers in the Icelandic Landnamabok had the element in their name,

            either as Thor- or -thorr. This reflects Norwegian conditions, but the

            names were also extremely common in Denmark and Sweden . A few did not

            make it to Iceland (Thormarr, etc.), as they were typically borne by

            the East Norse, although Thormar was later adopted in Iceland also.

            Other Germanics were Christian at the time, and did not share in the

            wildly popular develpoment of the Thor-element in personal names, even

            if they st ill had many heathen names from their own forefathers in use.

            Osbourne is, for instance, an English name, which would have come to

            England with the Anglo-Saxon settlers, who bore name in Os-, Elf- and

            so forth, but apparently not in Thunor-. They believed in the OE god

            Thunor, and worshipped this god, likely fervently, but it appears that

            only the more generic, abstract god-names that could refer to any god

            were typically used by Germanic in general. In Proto-Norse were have

            attested Ansugastiz and Ansugislaz, two men's names unattesed in ON,

            despite ON names with the prefix As- (But compare Thorgestr, Torgisl ot

            Thorgils). These are beautiful names, but after the conversion one

            would not expect them to be re-introduced, and, indeed, they were not,

            even if the real thing (they are). No one knows why the Thor- element

            took over with such fervour, or even when this development began. Our

            Proto-Norse sources are so few, that although the element does not

            occur there in personal names, we cannot say that it did not occur. But

            it is clear from comparative Germanic evidence that the popularity of

            the element Thor- in personal names in an ON development, and rooted in

            the then current religion, later made obsolete. It is simply due to

            their extreme popularity that these names survive at all in Christian

            times, when almost all heathen names are lost. One can understand the

            mindset when one considers that one of the greatest authorites on

            nordic names in modern times, the Norwegian scholar Eivind Vagslid,

            insists on intrepreting the element as meaning something like tough,

            brave, enduring, etc., following some fancy about how the Norse were

            simply innocent fishermen and farmers with no religion, who happily and

            w ill ingly saw the light and became Christian at the mere mention of the

            word. I wonder how folk in midieaval times dealt with these names?

            Anyway, I think we need to be objective in looking at this material,

            and in this case admit that some ON god *Thorr was at least somewhat

            popular during the Viking Age! But let us not forget, the second

            element is the main element, and not all names compound with Thor- as a

            prefix or -thorr as a suffix. The overwhelming, extreme majority of ON

            names do not. That is another reason why we need to look first at the

            basic, one-element names to understand them, and their way of seeing

            the world. ON could do wonderful things with suffixes, as we w ill see,

            and even though this was dying out in ON, being truly active in Proto

            Norse, ON could st ill work magic with suffixes when it wanted too.

             

            -Konrad

             

             

             

            ------------ --------- --------- ------

             

            A Norse funny farm, overrun by smart people.

             

             

            To escape from this funny farm try rattling off an e-mail to:

             

             

            <*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

             

            <*> Your email settings:

                Individual Email | Traditional

             

            <*> To change settings online go to:

                (Yahoo! ID required)

             

            <*> To change settings via email:

             

            <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

             

            <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

             

             

             

          • Scott
            If you document the sources for the names in your book, I want to buy a copy as soon as it is printed. I ll start saving now. Do you have an estimated price?
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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              If you document the sources for the names in your book, I want to buy a copy

              as soon as it is printed.  I’ll start saving now.  Do you have an estimated price?

               

              Scott Catledge

               


              From: norse_course@yahoogroups.com [mailto: norse_course@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of akoddsson
              Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 10:32 AM
              To: norse_course@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [norse_course] ON Totemic personal names

               

              I have for over 10 years collected every ON personal name that I
              could find, including nicknames. My sources have been ON runic
              inscriptions, mideaval letters and other such documents, kings sagas,
              Landnamabok and the sagas of Icelanders, sagas of olden tides
              (fornaldarsogur) , foreign sources of ON names, Proto-Norse runic
              inscriptions, oral tradition in a some cases. My yet unpublished book
              is in 3 sections: 1) ON totemic names 2) ON compound names 3) ON
              nicknames. As many of the nicknames can also occur as personal names,
              the book goes full-circle. The middle section on compound names is
              arranged after the second element, not the first, as this was
              originally the main element. What I have discovered is that the ON
              naming tradition tells us more about ON folk, culture, and religion
              that any other source. That might sound strange, given all the
              wonderful and important information in other sources, but I w ill
              assert for the record that it is true. Personal names as a whole give
              us a chance to see ON folk with eyes unbiased by any writers views,
              and unlimited by any given topic. As personal names were highly
              important and reflected the ON culture's values, ideals, beliefs, and
              way of seeing the world, they tell their own story in a silent way,
              where each man can draw his own conclusions. The ON naming tradition
              was totally and irreparably devastated by the introduction of the
              Christian faith. That some ON names survive is no argument to the
              contrary, as the context of the old naming tradition has been lost.
              Some names, especially male names, did survive, often by force of
              tradition or the number bearers for a given name within a given
              Christian area, but also later through revival during the age of
              national romanticism, in which many old name that had died out were
              reintroduced, as well as new, analogous names formed after the old
              compound model. But my work cuts off around the reformation, and
              ignores all development after that point except in the case of a few
              individual names that are thought to be ON names, but old survive in
              oral tradition due to chance. Time provided, I want to share some of
              my work with Norse Course members, and simply write some posts on the
              topic for interested members to read. Feel free to ask me questions
              if ye w ill , and w ill try to answer them when I have the time. Bare in
              mind that I can be called to sea for weeks, even months, on end, and
              without online access. I am not going to go into compound names too
              much, or nicknames, unless the topic sparks discourse on references
              are needed, or specific questions asked. Instead, I want to post on
              short, non-compound names, as they reflect an old, totemic tradition
              where folk were simply called after tools, clothes, weapons, things
              in natures, qualities, physical characteristics, etc.. I hope that
              readers w ill enjoy trying to see the world as the heathen norsemen
              once saw it, and imagine what it would have been like to live in a
              society were the names discussed were the only ones in use. My hope
              is that this can give the reader some idea of how utterly different
              was this olden folk's way of seeing the world, and how utterly
              different were their values and beliefs. Short personal names from
              Old English, Old High German, etc., tell us that the totemic naming
              tradition is as least as old as, and propably older than, the
              coumpound one, which likely evolved out of the totemic one, although
              we have no real way of knowing, as it also already existed in common
              Germanic times, if we are to believe our sources. Also, it is hard to
              understand why someone would be called Thorbiorn if one does not
              already understand why one would be called Biorn. Hence, we should
              probably try to understand that first. I call them totemic names
              after the famous native American use of personal names like Red
              Cloud, Sitting Bull, Blue Sky, etc., which reminds one of the ON
              tradition, as one sought to confer the qualities of the named things
              upon a person through a personal name. I w ill not go into native
              American names, as there were, and are, hundreds, if not thousands,
              of different tribes, and I am no expert on any of them. Enough said,
              I w ill post some names. I hope that ye enjoy the topic, and that ye
              see its relevance for Norse Course.

              -Konrad

            • Doug Erickson
              You nailed it, Konrad! Totemic, I think. Asbjorn is from Proto-Norse *Ansubernuz, a u-stem, and is simply the man s name Bjorn plus a prefix As- (before about
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 11, 2009
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                You nailed it, Konrad!

                 Totemic, I think. Asbjorn 
                is from Proto-Norse *Ansubernuz, a u-stem, and is simply the man's 
                name Bjorn plus a prefix As- (before about 1150 still Os, long hooked-
                o from u-mutation), meaning 'god', one of the aesir (the ON gods that 
                came with the Indo-Europeans to Scandinavia about 4000BC). Remember 
                that in ON inherited compound names, the second element is the main 
                element, even if the second element is partly or fully obscured in ON 
                due to linguistic loss. 
                
                -Konrad
                
                
                


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