This interface will soon cease to be publicly available. Use the new interface instead. Click here to switch over now.

Cookies on our website

We use cookies on this website, mainly to provide a secure browsing experience but also to collect statistics on how the website is used. You can find out more about the cookies we set, the information we store and how we use it on the cookies page.

Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

login: password: stay logged in: help



Vol. VII. Poetry on Christian Subjects

8. Introduction

1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages – a New Edition (MCR)
2. The Corpus of Medieval Icelandic Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
3. Genres of Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
4. Manuscripts (MCR)
5. Poets and their Audiences (MCR)
6. History of Scholarship and Reception of Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
7. Verse-forms and Diction of Christian Skaldic Verse (MCR)
8. The Treatment of Foreign Learned Words and Foreign Personal Names in Skaldic Poetry (KEG)
9. Normalisation of Fourteenth-Century Poetry (KEG)
10. How to use this Edition (MCR)

(Vol. VII. Poetry on Christian Subjects > 8. Introduction > 9. Normalisation of Fourteenth-Century Poetry)

9. Normalisation of Fourteenth-Century Poetry (KEG)

The orthographic representations of fourteenth-century poems in Skj B and Skald are inconsistent and fail to reflect sound changes that are characteristic of this period. For example, even though ǫ and ø merged to ö in the thirteenth century, both editions consistently render the new phoneme as <ǫ> rather than as <ö>. Other changes, like the diphthongisation of é (é > ie; see below), are not reflected in the orthography at all. Likewise, syntactic innovations, such as the frequent omission of the relative particle er, are silently emended in Skj B and Skald to correspond with earlier practice. In the present edition we have adopted a series of fourteenth-century orthographic normalisations listed below (see A.), while syntactic and morphological idiosyncrasies characteristic of the fourteenth century (see B.) are left in the Text without comment.

None of the late Christian poems can be dated with any certainty, and these poems represent different stages of phonetic development. For example, progressive v-umlaut (- > - > vo-; see ANG §86; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xi-xii; Bandle 1956, 41) is occasionally reflected in Vitn (8/8, 16/2), Mv II (8/2, 14/6), Alpost (8/8), and Mey (47/8, 54/6), but not in any other fourteenth-century poem. Likewise, the quantity of <o> in internal rhymes in such words as dróttinn ‘lord’ varies significantly from poem to poem (dróttinn or drottinn; see Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, 6), and sometimes both [o:] and [o] are attested within the same poem (e.g. Alpost 4/2, 8/8). Vowel quantity was unstable during this period, and our practice is therefore conservative: progressive v-umlaut (-), for example, is only represented orthographically when it can be ensured by internal rhyme. The spelling of such words as dróttinn ‘lord’ (dróttinn or drottinn; see above) is left to the individual editor and justified in the Introduction or Notes. We also adhere to a conservative practice as far as desyllabification of -r is concerned (-r > -ur, see below), and desyllabified forms are only introduced when required by the metre.

A few observations should also be made here on the two ljóðaháttr poems in this volume, Sól and Hsv, as they present some special difficulties. Although it is not possible to date either poem with certainty, we have made an editorial decision to regard them as 1250+, but not post-1300. Thus, they have been normalised to later thirteenth- rather than fourteenth-century standards. However, they are mentioned here because many of the problems associated with editing them derive from the very late date of the manuscripts in which they have been preserved and from the probability that fourteenth-century and later scribes were unaware of the finer points of ljóðaháttr metre. Our policy with Sól and Hsv has been to leave later features of syntax and word order, such as non-cliticised pronouns and the negative adverb eigi ‘not’, unnormalised and unnoted, except where their presence is contra-indicated on metrical grounds, generally where they appear at the ends of lines. In such cases, if a metrically correct reading or word order is given in one or more of the subsidiary manuscripts, but not in the main one, the metrically correct reading has been chosen. In cases where none of the manuscripts yields a metrically correct reading, we do not emend conjecturally but point out the deficiency in the notes. Our practice thus differs greatly from that of Skj and Skald, both of which attempt to make the ljóðaháttr poems correspond more closely to fornyrðislag by deleting eigi and replacing it with the cliticised verbal negation –at, and by silently omitting pronouns, cliticised or non-cliticised, that occur in extended dips. Some of the more extreme differences between our texts and those produced by Finnur Jónsson and Kock are pointed out in the notes to individual stanzas.

When the texts of Skj B and Skald are referred to in the notes, the orthography of Finnur and Kock is retained, that is, we do not subject their texts to our principles of normalisation. Hence the notes often contain two different systems of orthographic representation (e.g. og and ok ‘and’, mjög and mjǫk ‘much’, mier and mér ‘to me’ etc.). This mixture of forms is unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Below is an outline of the standard normalisations (A.) adopted in the present edition and a list of fourteenth-century phonological, morphological and syntactic features (B.) which occur occasionally in the poems. Such features are retained in the texts without comment in the notes to individual stanzas.

Standard Normalisations


Vowels in stressed syllables

é > ie (ANG §103; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xiv): hér > hier ‘here’

e > ie | k, g, h– (ANG §103): ketill > kietill ‘kettle’, gefa > giefa ‘to give’, hekk > hiekk ‘hung’

e > ei | –ng (ANG §102; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xii): lengi > leingi ‘long’ (adv.)

ö > au | –ng, nk (ANG §105): söngr > saungr ‘song’


ð > d | [+short syllable] l, n, m– (ANG §238, 1b): talða > talda ‘counted, told’

ð > d | b, lf, lg, ng, rg– (ANG §238, 1b): skelfða > skelfda ‘trembled’

pt > ft (ANG §247): lopt > loft ‘air’

t, k > ð, g | [- stress]–# (ANG §248; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xxvii, xxxii): ek > eg ‘I’, at > ‘that’

rl > ll (ANG §272.1; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xxx): karl > kall ‘man’

rs > ss (ANG §272.3; Björn K. Þórólfsson 1925, xxx): vers > vess ‘verse’

rst > st (ANG §272.3): skýrst > skýst ‘most clear’

ts < z > > ss (ANG §274.2): Gizurr > Gissurr ‘Gissur’

gn– > n– (ANG §290): gneisti > neisti ‘spark’


Mediopassive or middle voice: –sk > –z (ANG §544; see also Kjartan G. Ottóson 1992): kallask > kallaz ‘to be called’.

Desyllabification (only when justified by metre): –r > –ur (ANG §161b; see also Jón Þorkelsson 1863; Stefán Karlsson 1964): hestr > hestur ‘horse’

Occasional Syntactic, Morphological, and Phonological Peculiarities

Loss of the relative particle er in the combination demonstrative + relative particle (NS §261): Vitn 3/3 kóngr, sá átti unga ‘king, who had a young’.

Loss of er after þá ‘when’, þar ‘where’, þegar ‘as soon as’, síðan ‘after’ (NS §265, Anm. 2a): Sól 6/3 þá hann veginn vaknaði ‘when he slain awoke’

Loss of ‘that’ after svá ‘so that’, þó ‘although’, því ‘because’ (NS §265, Anm. 2b): Sól 54/5 svá víða þótti mér ‘so that widely seemed to me’

1st person sg. pret. subj. ending -a > -i (ANG §536.1): Vitn 26/1 Væri eg skyldr að skýra ‘should I be obliged to explain’

Occasional reintroduction by analogy of v- | -o (ANG §235.1): Mv II, 4/7 Vurðu þau; af velferð ‘became they; from prosperity’

6. Devoicing of g before s: huxan ‘thought’ as opposed to earlier hugsan (ANG §239.1b.): Mv I, 6/1 Vóx hræðilig huxan ‘grew (a) terrible thought’.

© Skaldic Project Academic Body, unless otherwise noted. Database structure and interface developed by Tarrin Wills. All users of material on this database are reminded that its content may be either subject to copyright restrictions or is the property of the custodians of linked databases that have given permission for members of the skaldic project to use their material for research purposes. Those users who have been given access to as yet unpublished material are further reminded that they may not use, publish or otherwise manipulate such material except with the express permission of the individual editor of the material in question and the General Editor of the volume in which the material is to be published. Applications for permission to use such material should be made in the first instance to the General Editor of the volume in question. All information that appears in the published volumes has been thoroughly reviewed. If you believe some information here is incorrect please contact Tarrin Wills with full details.

This is a backup server for Any changes made here will be lost.