Icelandic Language Blog

Tag Archives: sagas

Four kinds of dreaming. Posted by on May 26, 2016

In Icelandic fairy tale tradition dreams are given an especially important part in how they affect and shape people’s lives. In old stories and legends gods and elves visit people in the dreaming, explaining dreams has been a valued skill all the way from the settlement era and people have for a long time believed…

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Who were the berserks? Posted by on Jan 14, 2016

Few parts of the Nordic past are as well known as the vikings and among them a very specific group: the berserks, warriors that worked themselves into a battle rage that blinded them to anything but the fight. Today they bear a much romanticized look and are often considered as the ultimate soldier, the unstoppable one…

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Leifur’s Icelandic, thanks Obama. Posted by on Nov 5, 2015

The president of the United States has recently insulted the whole nation of Iceland, at least if going by the public outcry. His offence? He recently referred to Leifur Eiríksson, also known as Leif Eriksson in the English-speaking world, as a Norwegian. Leifur was born to an Icelandic mother in Iceland and grew up here…

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Icelandic kennings. Posted by on Jul 16, 2015

What is “a wave’s horse”? If someone’s talking of “Ymir’s skull”, what are they talking about? What or who is being called Hringaná in the old song Hættu að gráta Hringaná? And who is “the possessor of the fallen slain and the owner of Sessrúmnir”? Kennings, or circumlocutions, form a large part of traditional Icelandic…

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Fighting, Viking-women Style pt.2! Posted by on Nov 24, 2014

What would be the biggest difference between Medieval Icelandic women who fought using weapons as opposed to using their wits? I’d say it would be in the amount of casualties. Let’s count! Auður Vésteinnsdóttir (Gísla saga Súrssonar)  Deaths – 0, Injuries inflicted – at least 2 severe ones. Auður is one of the most loyal wives…

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Fighting, viking-women style! Posted by on Nov 20, 2014

Medieval Norse women tend to make people think of either of two things first: either a stoic-looking linen-clad lady who does nothing besides carrying horns of mead and popping out heroic babies, or a shield-maiden in a skimpy armour. Both images are wrong, but because they answer to two romantic ideals it’s easy to…

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Fighting, viking-style! Posted by on Nov 11, 2014

Vikings fighting… I can’t begin to count how many movies get this one entirely wrong. There’s the age-old mistaken idea that Norsemen were some kind of mindless frothing-at-the-mouth barbarians, that fights mostly consisted of swords hitting swords, Hollywood-esque spins in the heat of a battle and a weird conviction that Medieval Norse warriors somehow had…

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