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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

2. Sneglu-Halli, Lausavísur, 9 [Vol. 2, 330]

[1] gerik þann þjón at sveini ‘I make that slave [my] boy’: The most common meaning of sveinn is ‘boy’ or ‘young male person’ (see Fritzner: sveinn 1-2), and þjónn and sveinn could mean both ‘slave’ and ‘servant’ (see Fritzner sveinn 4-5; þjónn). Skj B translates this sentence loosely as Ham gör jeg til tjæner ‘I make him a servant’, whereas Kock (NN §§2526, 3396R) suggests that sveinn here stands for matsveinn ‘cook’ (‘this servant I make a cook’). See also Gulaþingslǫg §300 (NGL I, 98) and NGL V: matgerðarmaðr; matsveinn; sveinn; þjónn. Neither interpretation captures the full derogatory force of Halli’s couplet.


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