kenning

kenning
   A kenning is a traditional figure of speech distinctive to OLD ENGLISH and Old Norse poetry.The term kenning seems to have derived from the Germanic word kenna, meaning to define or characterize—in other words, to name. Usually considered a kind of periphrasis or circumlocution, a kenning is essentially a metaphor in which a literal, single noun is replaced by a figurative compound of two words. Kennings always consist of a noun modified by the possessive form of another noun, sometimes fused together to form a single word. For example, the kenning swanrade (“swan’s road”) in BEOWULF refers to the sea: The analogy implied is that the sea is to a swan as a road is to a man or a horse. Kennings in Old English poetry are generally simple, as the one cited above, or as “storm of swords” for a battle. In the SKALDIC POETRY of medieval Norway and later Iceland, however, kennings could become extremely complex, when one or both of the terms of the kennings contained kennings themselves. Peter Hallberg cites the skaldic line “the swan of the sweat of the thorn of the wounds” (sára loorns sveita svanr) as an example. Here, the “thorn of the wounds” is a kenning for sword. “The sweat of the sword” is a kenning for blood. “The swan of blood,” then, is the raven, the bird of the battlefield (Hallberg 1975, 23). In some types of Old Icelandic courtly poetry, nothing is ever directly named, and all nouns are replaced by kennings. The understanding of such poetry becomes an intellectual challenge, akin to the popularity of such literary forms as RIDDLES in Old English.
   Bibliography
   ■ Hallberg, Peter. Old Icelandic Poetry: Eddic Lay and Skaldic Verse. Translated by Paul Schach and Sonja Lindgrenson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Kenning — Kenning, en el nórdico antiguo, significa símbolo, el hecho de nombrar, cuyo plural en esa lengua es kenningar. Relacionado con kenna que significa conocer, nombrar con un kenning. La kenning es una figura retórica usada en las producciones… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kenning — Ken ning, n. [See {Ken}, v. t.] 1. Range of sight. [Obs.] Bacon. [1913 Webster] 2. The limit of vision at sea, being a distance of about twenty miles. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kenning — (n.) O.E. cenning procreation; declaration in court, prp. of KEN (Cf. ken) (v.). From early 14c. in senses sign, token; teaching, instruction; c.1400 as mental cognition. From 1883 as periphrastic expression in early Germanic poetry; in this… …   Etymology dictionary

  • kenning — [ken′iŋ] n. [ME: see KEN] 1. Scot. a) knowledge or recognition b) a tiny quantity; trace 2. [ON, symbol < kenna: see KEN] in early Germanic, as Old English, poetry, a metaphorical name, usually a compound, for something (Ex.: “whale path” for… …   English World dictionary

  • Kenning — A kenning (Old Norse kenning [cʰɛnːiŋg] , Modern Icelandic pronunciation [cʰɛnːiŋk] ) is a circumlocution used instead of an ordinary noun in Old Norse and later Icelandic poetry. For example, Old Norse poets might replace sverð , the regular… …   Wikipedia

  • Kenning — Als die Kenning (von altnord. kenna „kennzeichnen“, Pl. Kenningar) wird in der altgermanischen, besonders der altisländischen Stabreimdichtung (Edda, Skalden) das Stilmittel einer poetischen Umschreibung einfacher Begriffe bezeichnet. Im… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kenning — Kẹn|ning 〈f.; , nin|gar〉 bildersprachl. Ausdrucksweise in der altgerm. Dichtung [anord.; verwandt mit nhd. kennen] * * * Kẹn|ning, die; , ar […ŋgar] u. e [anord. kenning, eigtl. = Erkennung] (Literaturwiss.): (in der altgermanischen Dichtung)… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Kenning — Ken Ken, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Kenned} (k[e^]nd); p. pr. & vb. n. {Kenning}.] [OE. kennen to teach, make known, know, AS. cennan to make known, proclaim, or rather from the related Icel. kenna to know; akin to D. & G. kennen to know, Goth. kannjan …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Kenning — Un kenning (pluriel savant : kenningar) est une figure de style propre à la poésie scandinave, qui consiste à remplacer un mot par une périphrase à valeur métaphorique. La guerre est par exemple appelée vacarme des épées dans certaines… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • kenning — /ken ing/, n. a conventional poetic phrase used for or in addition to the usual name of a person or thing, esp. in Icelandic and Anglo Saxon verse, as a wave traveler for a boat. [1880 85; < ON; see KEN1, ING1] * * * ▪ medieval literature… …   Universalium

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