2017, Volume 14, Issue 2

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Tatiana V. Toporova
Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Russia

Proper Name as a Marker of a Cosmogonic Song

Voprosy onomastiki, 2017, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp. 55–70
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2017.14.2.010

Received 12 February 2017

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to show the internal integrity of the Eddic Grímnismál (Sayings of Grímnir), putting forward that the proper name is the key element for understanding the structure and meaning of this Eddic song. The name with transparent semantic motivation can both explicate the key features of denotata in thulas that represent comprehensive classification schemes, and implicate them (cf. the multiplicity of names of Odin, concealing his true name and nature). The author considers the end of the song, when Odin unveils his identity, rejects his false names and uses a true one (I, Odin), as a marker of Odin’s special ecstatic state revealing the knowledge about the origin and the structure of the universe, as well as the true essence of Odin. The opposition of the names explicating the properties of named objects (personalized elements of the universe in the concept of cosmogenesis: rivers, deers, etc.) and subjects (i.e. actors, like Valkyries or Odin himself), on the one hand, and the names implicating them, on the other, is neutralized in the act of sacrifice when Odin comprehends the origin and the structure of the universe. Proper names are, thus, interpreted as a clip uniting the two parts of Grímnismál — the prose frame and the main poetic part of the song. The author argues that Grímnismál represents an ideal model of the universe embodied by the first and best proper name.

Keywords: Poetic Edda, Old Norse language, proper name, inner form of the name, explicatory and implicatory names, cosmogonic song, ideal model of the universe


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