Tuesday, 7 March 2017

'K' is for Kenning

(...It's been seven months since the last alphabet post.)

In my defence, 'K' was a really difficult letter.

Assuming that you aren't fluent in Old English or Old Norse, you're only ever going to come across kennings in translations. A kenning is where a noun is replaced with a descriptive compound. These are usually quite metaphorical, for example, 'battle-torch' in Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf which, as far as I can tell, means 'sword'.

Proper nouns may not count as words in a game of scrabble, but they can be replaced with kennings. For example, 'Wolf's Father' is a kenning for Loki, the father of Fenrir, in Henry Adams Bellow's translation of Lokasenna in the Poetic Edda.

Leave me a kenning in the comments!