Posted: 29 September 2013 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  650
Joined  2011-04-10

I was curious about the etymology of the word “troll” but found nothing definitive on the inter-tubes.

There was this, which I found to be interesting:

...Gradually throughout Norse culture, we can discern the forming of two main traditions regarding the use of “troll.” In the first tradition, the troll is large, brutish and a direct descendant from the Norse jötnar. They are often described as ugly or having beastly features like tusks or cyclopic eyes. This is the tradition which has come to dominate fairy tales and legends, but it is also the prominent concept of troll in Norway. In Skáldskaparmál, the poet Bragi Boddason encounters a troll-woman who hails him with this verse (in Old Norse):


Troll kalla mik
tungl sjötrungnis,
auðsug jötuns,
élsólar böl,
vilsinn völu,
vörð náfjarðar,
hvélsvelg himins –
hvat’s troll nema þat?


They call me Troll;
Gnawer of the Moon,
Giant of the Gale-blasts,
Curse of the rain-hall,
Companion of the Sibyl,
Nightroaming hag,
Swallower of the loaf of heaven.
What is a Troll but that?


Although I really liked the imagery [an example of kenning?] portrayed in the English above, I wondered if it might be a dubious translation; I found another:

Hvernig er ókennd setning skáldskapar? Svá, at nefna hvern hlut sem heitir. Hver eru ókennd nöfn skáldskaparins? Hann heitir bragr ok hróðr, óðr, mærð, lof. Þetta kvað Bragi inn gamli, þá er hann ók um skóg nökkurn síð um kveld. Þá stefjaði trollkona á hann ok spurði, hverr þar fór:

233. Troll kalla mik
tungl sjöt-rungnis,
auðsug jötuns,
élsólar böl,
vílsinn völu,
vörð nafjarðar,
hvélsvelg himins.
Hvat er troll, nema þat?

“How are the uninvolved terms of poesy made? By calling each thing by its proper name. What are the simple terms for poesy? It is called Poetry, Glorifying, Song, Laud, and Praise. Bragi the Old sang this, when he was travelling through a forest late at evening: a troll woman hailed him in verse, asking who passed:

‘Trolls do call me
Moon’s . . .
. . . of the giant,
Storm-sun’s (?) bale,
Fellow-in-misery of the sibyl,
Warder of the circled ring-earth,
Wheel-devourer of the heaven.
What is the troll but that?”


Related links:

Posted: 30 September 2013 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  4875
Joined  2007-01-03

Those look like good translations to me. (Although I wouldn’t go with “swallower of the loaf of heaven,” it’s clearly “wheel-devourer of heaven"—reference to the firmament of heaven as a circle or wheel is common. And “Sybil” may be problematic; it would depend on the date and whether or not there was an expectation that the poet might be familiar with classical myth—the word it translates is obscure and I’m not sure of its meaning.) The vocabulary of the passage is tough, with several obscure words—several aren’t in my Old Norse dictionaries, but the translations seem reasonable.

The OED says the internet troll is a derivation of the fishing term (troll, n.1). One goes trolling for responses. The first citation is from 1992 in the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban. But the dictionary acknowledges an influence by the trolls of Norse myth. The term predates my use of the internet and my participation on AFU by about a year, and my understanding is that the word was coined and used in the early days with both metaphors in mind.

Posted: 30 September 2013 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  1373
Joined  2007-01-29

A previous discussion here.

Posted: 30 September 2013 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  2063
Joined  2007-02-19

The alternative translations of an Icelandic word, as either “loaf” or “wheel”, intrigued me. In Hebrew, the word kikar means either a loaf of bread, or a circle ( e.g. kikar Piccadilly). I always assumed that this was because in antiquity, loaves of bread were usually round, baked on a flat surface without a mould.

Posted: 01 October 2013 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Total Posts:  363
Joined  2012-01-10

What a shame: I was hoping I could one day sternly advise, “Do not feed the swallower of the loaf of heaven!” (DNFTSOTLOH)

Somehow, “Do not feed the wheel-devourer of heaven!” isn’t nearly as pleasing.

‹‹ The letter H      BL: lunch, luncheon ››