Talk:Kenning

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Long example[edit]

I admit I constructed the "battle" kenning right from my head. I remember seeing a rather long ancient example involving sea-gull, wind, sail, ship, sea and something else. Does anyone remember? Mikkalai 08:22, 2 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I added an example from the skald Öyvind Finnsson which shows how kennings are based on knowing Norse mythology and why Snorri Sturluson composed the younger Edda.--Wiglaf 17:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Um...isn't the Game Of Kings usually a reference to horse racing, not tennis? I'm changing it to that, but if someone more knowledgeable changes it back, I won't contest it.

Modern kennings[edit]

Some of these are a little... obscure. Or at least in my experience. And can it really be said that any modern poetic way of saying something is a kenning? I'm not familiar enough with this term to know for sure. RobertM525 18:50, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree, in my opinion this is silly and should go. Kenning is not a very meaningful term outside of Germanic poetry. Haukur 19:17, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
Would "Boom-Stick" be a Keening for Shotgun? Army of Darkness fans want to know. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 159.53.78.142 (talk) 21:02, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Modern German languages still use them. de:Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod is a great book lamenting among other things, Kennings, Anglicisms in German, etc. The chapter on Kennings (called "Die Sucht nach Synonymen" The Yearning/Search/Addition for Synonyms), where he discusses the (German) media's obsession with replacing proper nouns with kennings. (In an Anglo-American context, that would be beginning sentences with "The former Governor", "The Connecticutian", etc., to describe George W. Bush, rather than saying "Bush" "the President", or "he" over and over again may become painful.) One chapter I remember "renamed" Frankfurt "the German Wallstreet", "Main-hattan", "the financial capital", etc. I'm thinking such a mention would merit a sentence in the English article. I'll be putting a similar comment on the German talkpage. See what they say, too. samwaltz 13:31, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Ergh. Working on a translation from German to English in the background, and I keep coming across more and more kennings. The author uses capital cities to refer to governments ("Washington's decision", instead of "the decision of the US government", when neither the city's 500,000 residents, nor their mayor had any say in the matter}. "The transatlantic security community" rather than "NATO". And on. And on. And on. samwaltz 13:53, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Those aren't actually kennings. They're called false titles, and in the case of "Washington's decision" metonymy. LokiClock (talk) 07:58, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Well, how about these (humorous) modern German metaphors?
  • Stubentiger ('living-room tiger') 'cat' (very common)
  • Dachhase ('roof hare') 'cat' (somewhat old-fashioned)
  • Glimmstengel ('glowing stalk') 'cigarette' (very common)
  • Nasenfahrrad ('nose bicycle') 'optical glasses' (also relatively well-known)
  • Gänsewein ('goose-wine') 'water'
  • Rasenschach ('lawn-chess') 'association football'
  • Andenpuder ('Andine powder') 'cocaine'
  • Rechenknecht ('calculating slave') 'electronic computer'
  • Stromklavier ('electric current piano') 'synthesizer keyboard'
  • Dampfroß ('steam horse') '(steam) locomotive'
  • Hopfenblütentee ('hop flower tea') 'beer'
  • Hippiekraut ('hippy herb') 'cannabis'
(used at German medieval markets, the European counterpart to American Renaissance faires, to denote modern implements that are blatantly anachronistic in the context of the pseudo-medieval ambience:)
  • Taschendrache ('pocket dragon') 'cigarette lighter'
  • Zeiteisen ('time iron') 'watch'
  • Horchknochen ('bone for listening') 'mobile phone'
These will even be productively formed on occasion, mostly for variety (in journalistic pieces), disparagement or mere amusement in informal language. The more I think about this and search the web, the more such compounds come up. There are whole compilations of purported current German "youth slang" (even websites devoted to the topic), which contain many such colourful and imaginative paraphrases (e. g. Teppichratte or Teppichporsche for a little dog, Zappelbunker for a discotheque, Pornobalken for a moustache), supposedly used to confuse adults, and while these collections are certainly amusing, I'm under the impression that many such coinings aren't particularly frequently used or already older than teenagers might think.
There are also comparable expressions in English, but they seem less frequent to me, for example boob tube for a TV set (in German Flimmerkiste is commonly used), or three-finger salute for the Ctrl+Alt+Del keystroke, which in German might be called, among other things, Affengriff ('monkey grip'), which is also quite vivid I'd say.
Don't you think these strongly resemble at least the simpler, Old English form of kennings? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:12, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


Don't forget about some of Shakespeare's insults (particularly in the exchange between Falstaff and Hal in Henry IV part I):
HAL I'll be no longer guilty of this sin; this sanguine
coward, this bed-presser, this horseback-breaker,
this huge hill of flesh,--
FALSTAFF 'Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried
neat's tongue, you bull's pizzle, you stock-fish! O
for breath to utter what is like thee! you
tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile
standing-tuck,--
(Henry IV part I, Act II, scene 4)
This includes the simpler kennings (with the initial noun in both the nominative and the genitive forms), and complex kennings ("dried neat's tongue", "huge hill of flesh"). And this is only one example! Terrencereilly (talk) 17:39, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
Erm, how are these expressions kenningar? They don't stand in metaphorically for other, simpler words; they aren't paraphrases at all. They're simply fanciful insults in the form of compounds. Something quite common in German and some other languages I'm familiar with, especially where the exchange of insults is practised in an elaborate way that makes quarreling and verbal fighting almost an art form.
Another example for a humorous German kenning that's so common that you may never really think about that it is a metaphor: Drahtesel, literally "wire donkey", for "bicycle". --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:07, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Quotation format[edit]

A lot of this article looks like it comes out of someone's research paper-- which is fine, except that they aren't using the right quotation format. Muncadunc (talk) 14:21, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Could you please give some concrete examples? The quotation format and referencing looks fine to me. –Holt (TC) 14:49, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
Who is that "someone"? The name that crops up most in the references is Faulkes, but no one text by Faulkes predominates, and a lot of these are references to Old Norse texts edited by him, rather than a single paper. Dependent Variable (talk) 13:45, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Pseudonym?[edit]

Hi, I stumbled onto this page from Sleipnir and before I got here I was 90% sure that 'relative of sleipnir' for Loki being a kenning would (based on the scottish 'ken = to know') have a meaning similar to - "known as", "pseudonym", "alias", "synonym", "descriptive nickname" "apellido" and for that matter "aka".

If that's correct, I'd like to add something along the lines of the following to clarify the lead (I don't imagine most people know the meaning of the verb 'to ken' something). Telling them lots about the construction of the literary trope before they even grasp the word's meaning might be tricky.

A Kenning (Old Norse: kenning, Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk], meaning "known") is a 

Incidentally why is the modern Icelandic pronunciation of the work kenning relevant to the article (I note that the modern english pronunciation isn't included)? Perhaps this (below) would be clearer?

A Kenning (Old Norse: kenning, meaning "known") is a type of literary trope

I now wonder whether things like Iron Lady and Coeur de Lion would be a kenning, or The Scottish Play, or things like 'the Card shark' (if applied in a sentence with no name) would count?

If you happen to be rather more familiar with Kennings, you might want to look at those articles and consider adding kenning to the "see also" section. EdwardLane (talk) 09:09, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

The Scottish Play or Old Nick are circumlocutions or periphrases (used for taboo avoidance in these cases, which makes them euphemisms). The kenning is a subtype of circumlocution (used for stylistic variation), as explained in the lede, which has the form of a compound. Your examples are not all compounds, and Iron Lady and Cœur de Lion are epithets or bynames (Iron Lady is a nickname or sobriquet, while Cœur de Lion is a necessary epithet, as it is used for disambiguation – many people are called Richard, including kings: bynames are the origin of our modern surnames) rather than circumlocutions. Of course, all these concepts are closely related and not always clearly separable. Card shark is simply a technical term; I can't think of a more common or shorter alternative expression that it could be said to periphrase. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:37, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
By the way, the modern English pronunciation of kenning is really obvious – just use the intuitive pronunciation. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 17:33, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

What's with the red text?[edit]

Is there a good reason why text is in red in the "Old Norse kennings in context" section? Red makes it look like a broken template or some other kind of error on the page. Can it not be in any other colour? Simon Peter Hughes (talk) 09:19, 10 August 2014 (UTC)