Um slafak og marinkjarna

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Published Jan 1, 1970
Helgi Guðmundsson

Abstract

I. The present paper deals with some Icelandic words of Gaelic origin, all previously dealt with by Chr. Matras in an important paper published in 1958. II. Icel. slafak has several meanings, but closest to the Gaelic is 'green seaweed', still found in North-Eastern Iceland, see Map 1. III. The Icelandic word for 'Alaria esculenta', an edible seaweed, shows a number of different forms. The authenticity of one 18th century example of Myri-kiarni was discussed by Chr. Matras, and his conclusion is borne out by the occurrence of mýrikjarni in Northern Iceland, see Map 2. IV. According to Chr. Matras Icel. sólvamæður 'a kind of seaweed' is in all probability a loan translation of Scottish Gaelic mathair an duilisg 'carrageen, Irish moss'. The sources do not agree as to the meaning of the word, but still it is quite possible that Chr. Matras' hypothesis is right. V. In Icelandic annals a skin-boat is mentioned in the year 1666 on Hvítá, a major salmon river. This river is comparable to e.g. the Severn, the Shannon or the Boyne, where the use of currachs persisted into the 20th century. But nothing further is known about skin-boats in Iceland
and Celtic influence cannot be proved. But several well-documented instances of cultural traits borrowed by the Norse from the Celts have been discussed by Chr. Matras. Amongst these is the use of seaweed for food. But whereas Gaelic has contributed words for edible seaweed in the Faroes and in Iceland, a Norse loan word kvanneq occurs, according to Thalbitzer, as a word for a kind of edible seaweed in Labrador Eskimo, on the continent of Native America. 

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Section
Linguistics