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Tag Archives: viking era

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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Icelandic names’ gender rules. Posted by on Jan 21, 2016

A new girl’s name has been accepted by the naming committee (link)! Although the word “new” there does not quite describe the name itself, it’s in fact so old it can be found in some of the oldest texts written in Iceland. Everyone knows the lady, she’s a key figure in Norse mythology… but up…

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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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Icelandic – unchangeable? Posted by on Jun 11, 2015

At some point or another anyone interested in Icelandic will come across the popular idea that Icelandic is being kept unchanged, or at least that it has changed very little with time. Occasionally you’ll even hear people claim that Icelandic is so close to Old Norse that Icelanders can still understand it. Alas, all of…

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The coat of arms of Iceland – monsters ahoy! Posted by on Mar 5, 2015

In Medieval times Icelandic noblemen had their own coat of arms assigned to them by the ruler of the time, King of Norway, but today no Icelander is allowed to carry a personal heraldic symbol. No, not even if they can prove a family connection to the early nobles of Iceland (which, considering how small the gene pool of…

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