Hey Fjorn! I love your work here. I'm curious about the Old Norse word for "warrior." It seems there might be some debate between words like "drengr" and "rekkr" and others. Going along with this, what about the word for "army" or "war-band?" I have found "herlidh" and "hirdh" but I am unsure. Thank you for your time and efforts, keep up the good work!
Velkominn, vinr minn! (Welcome, my friend!)
Many thanks for the kind words; they are greatly appreciated in this hall.
There are several Old Norse words for ‘warrior’, especially when we consider poetic terminology. Each word or phrase is correct in its own way, and so the true debate is in deciphering the different connotations associated with each word and reference. In other words, context is key, but so is cultural and mythological reference, especially when considering poetic verse. According to the Skaldic Project Database, there are over 700 different kennings recorded as referring to a warrior! You can view all of those HERE.
To get to your actual question though, let’s look a few of the words used for ‘warrior’, as well as for an ‘army’ or ‘war-band’, and discuss them a bit:(1)
[1.] Drengr (noun, m.) a bold, valiant, chivalrous man; (with góðr) a good-hearted, noble-minded man; a young, unmarried man; attendant; fellow; pole. [2.] Rekkr (noun, m.) man, warrior [3.] Hermaðr (noun, m.) man-of-war, warrior [4.] Herbaldr (noun, m. poetic) man, warrior
[5.] Herr (noun, m.) army, troops [6.] Herlið (noun, n.) war-people, troops (—likely your proper match for “herlidh”) [7.] Herfólk (noun, n. pl.) men of war [8.] Hernaðarfólk (noun, n.) or Hernaðarmenn (noun, m. pl.) plunderers, forayers
[9.] As for hirð (which I assume is what you meant by “hirdh”), the word refers more to a king’s personal men or bodyguard.
I have read very little about the word rekkr, nor are many of its local entries similar in nature. It does mean warrior, but it was not likely a common way to refer to one. I am also unfamiliar with its context, since dictionaries lack such information and I have not personally come across it in a saga yet. As for drengr, there is a considerably different context that can be involved with this word. To be drengr does not necessarily mean that one is a warrior. It means that a man has a solid, respectable character. It is true that he could be a warrior, but not all warriors would have been considered drengr. Such a ‘title’ would have been quite the honor; to be called such meant that you were respected.
The term we should really be considering is hermaðr. I am more confident that this word was the most commonly employed term for a warrior. It is also related to the word herr, which means ‘army’ or ‘troops’. In the dictionary, there are roughly 65 separate terms relating to war that begin with her—. Some primary examples are herja (to raid) and hersir (Norwegian chieftain); even Odin himself is sometimes called Herjafǫðr (father of hosts) or Herjan (Lord of Hosts). Given the abundance of terms sharing such similarity, the word hermaðr would have been the most likely term used in normal conversation to refer to a warrior. And, as you saw above, all of the words that I found with a meaning closest to ‘army’ also relate to hermaðr.
There are definitely other options available out there (I could not have possibly covered them all), but you can be fairly confident in using the word hermaðr for warrior. After all, it literally means “a man of war,” and there are numerous terms about war that relate to it linguistically. Poetically speaking however, your options are nearly limitless, as the list on the Skaldic Project Database will reveal.
I should also mention that Scandinavia was no home to large, standardized armies until the end of the Viking Age. Even then, they would not live up to the standards of others. Most of the warriors in the Norse world went on raids in relatively smaller groups, meaning that most battles were of men who suddenly came to plunder against men frantically trying to protect their home (and not necessarily lines of warriors colliding together between hills). The word ‘army’ can often be a bit misleading, which is why I wanted to make sure I mentioned that Norse ‘armies’ seriously lacked in size and efficiency. Even the ‘armies’ heard of during the end of the Viking Age (including the Great Army) were really just several independent troops of plundering men loosely united under the command of one or more powerful chieftains.
Anyway, I do hope that this discussion has helped to ease your mind. If there is anything else that you would like to have clarified, or even further discussed, feel free to ask a follow-up question. Until then, I hope for the best in your endeavors.
Herr M.:</b> Jeder von uns hat eine Maske auf. Jeder. Manche oft manche fast nie. Man kann die Maske nicht die ganze Zeit tragen. Nur wenn man alleine ist lässt man sie weg.<p><b>Ich:</b> ....<p><b>Herr M.:</b> Und die Leute gehen daran kaputt. Auch wenn sie lächeln sehen sie innendrin ganz anders aus.<p><b>Ich:</b> *muss die Tränen zurück halten*<p><b>Herr M.:</b> Leute die 'Echt' lachen sieht man an den Falten an ihren Augenwinkeln.<p><b></b> *er schaute auf mich*<p><b></b> Ich lächelte<p><b>Herr M.:</b> Ja genau das war kein echtes Lächeln. Das war das lächeln das du immer machst damit die anderen nicht wissen wie es dir wirklich geht. Stimmts?!<p><b>Ich:</b> ... *nickte*<p>
Odd question: for "dear diary" you would have to use the formal and neutral "Sehr geehrter" since the diary has no gender, correct? Would it be incorrect to choose "lieber" or "liebe" if you wanted to give your diary a name/personification for fun?
Awwww I love this question! “Sehr geehrtes Tagebuch” is just so cute, omg!
But no, that’s not what you would write. It’s always “liebes Tagebuch”.
“Tagebuch” is neuter, so you have to bring the adjective “lieb” in line with it.
lieber Peter (m)
liebe Julia (f)
liebes Tagebuch (n)
It’s the same with “geehrt” if you would want to use it for fun:
sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt (m)
sehr geehrte Frau Schmidt (f)
sehr geehrtes Tagebuch (n)
The latter would just be waaaaaay too formal. A diary is always something very personal, something you treat like a person of trust. That’s why “sehr geehrtes Tagebuch” sounds funny since you only use that instruction in very formal situations for complete strangers or persons of high authority.