BL: Viking
Posted: 17 July 2014 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This one goes out to my colleagues who are living it up at the New Chaucer Society meeting in Reykjavík this week.

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Posted: 17 July 2014 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Interesting if true, and certainly plausible, but all my reference works, including quite recent ones, say the English word is from Old Norse.  The only one that discusses your theory is the OED, which calls it “possible.” You’re usually pretty cautious about these things; why do you state this as if it were settled fact?

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Posted: 17 July 2014 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Very interesting and instructive, Dave; thank you! You imply that piracy (or as it’s called in German, sea-robbery) before the Norsemen was necessarily associated by English writers with the Mediterranean. This raises a question with me: Is there any reason why the old English word wicing couldn’t, or shouldn’t, have been used, in those early glossaries you mention, in reference to people such as the Germanic invaders (Hengist, Horsa) who arrived in England in ships, centuries before the Norsemen, and set up their encampments in Kent and thereabouts?

(I freely confess that all I know about Old English is what I’ve read at this site, and in one or two books, and that my question might, in my ignorance, be completely without relevance)

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Posted: 17 July 2014 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Do those references refer only to the modern use? The modern word is certainly (re-)borrowed from the Old Norse, which I state. The question is where did the Norse word come from and how does it relate to the Old English wicing?

In this case, the dating is pretty clear. The Norse word doesn’t appear until much later than the Old English, and the semantic development of the Old English word is clear—it did not originally mean a Norse raider (not to mention the early uses pre-date the Viking era). It’s certainly possible that the Old Norse word developed independently from a cognate root, but as I say I think it “likely” that the Norse word comes from the Old English.

The Fell article is the most complete discussion I’ve found on the topic, although it doesn’t address the development of the Norse word.

Is there any reason why the old English word wicing couldn’t, or shouldn’t, have been used, in those early glossaries you mention, in reference to people such as the Germanic invaders (Hengist, Horsa) who arrived in England in ships, centuries before the Norsemen, and set up their encampments in Kent and thereabouts?

It’s not used in that context in any of the extant manuscripts. Wicing has a negative connotation, and it is unlikely the Anglo-Saxons would have applied it to their forebears, whom they tended to valorize.

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Posted: 17 July 2014 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I see what you mean. Thanks.

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Posted: 18 July 2014 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I too see what you mean and thank you!

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Posted: 21 July 2014 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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And where does the Old English wicing come from? Wic refers to a town, dwelling place, or encampment, and a wicing was probably someone who set up a temporary camp, as piratical raiders were wont to do

I will not argue with you that wicing has a connection to wic = a town or dwelling place.
But vik in Scandinavian terms is a cove/a bay (like Reykjavik= Smoke bay) and to me it seems pretty close to wic.
So this made me wonder if wicing could have something to do with the fact that the intruding Norsemen came from the seaside (or in this case bayside) and where maned for that.

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Posted: 21 July 2014 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, if you go with Viking being independently coined in Old Norse, that is a logical etymology. But that sense does not exist for the Old English wic.

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Posted: 22 July 2014 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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the Old English wic.

which survives, of course, in bailiwick (nowadays mostly used figuratively), and in many place names ending in -wick : Prestwick, Gatwick, Norwich, Sandwich, Eastwick (of “The Witches of.....”).

All this is new to yours truly. The things one is continually learning at this site never fail to astound me!!!

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