2018, Volume 15, Issue 3

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

Speaking Names in the Eddic Skírnismál

Voprosy onomastiki, 2018, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp. 139–153 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2018.15.3.033

Received 17 January 2018

Abstract: The paper seeks to explore the internal form of the central characters’ names in the Eddic Skírnir’s Journey. Proper names mentioned in the song are regarded as relevant markers of the plot that echoes the fertility myth. The author aims to substantiate that the genre structure of the song is shaped by semantic motivations behind character names, and to prove that the same logic extends to other genres represented in the song with their linguistic and stylistic peculiarities. “Speaking” names with explicitly expressed semantic motivations are the key to an adequate interpretation of the Eddic song Skírnir’s Journey that presents Skírnir as a “shining” mediator likened to a sunbeam, contributing to the marriage of Freyr, the god of fertility and one of the Vanir, and the giantess Gerðr of the jötunns, that personifies the “fenced-in” Earth. The cult of fertility is the most archaic layer, the mythological implication of the plot of the song. The transparency of the internal form of the names, reflecting the nature of the respective characters, attests to the semantic openness typical of “nominative” texts which serve exclusively as a verbal act illustrating the creative function of naming. These names refer directly to the creation myth as their precedent; they also determine the functions of a particular genre as part of the studied Eddic song.

Keywords: Old Norse language, Elder Edda, proper name, semantic motivation of the name, nominativity, mythopoetic model of the world, genre


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