A note on the derivation of Faroese grind

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Published Jan 1, 1995
Kate Sanderson

Abstract

The most common and widely used explanation for the derivation of the Faroese word grind (school of pilot whales) elates the word's origins to grind with the meaning of a framework or gate-like structure. The application of this sense to a school of pilot whales has been popularly explained either by the formation of a school of whales as they swim together, or in relation to
the methods used to drive schools of pilot whales, whereby they are "fenced into" bay s by a line of boats to prevent their escape, with parallels in sheep herding activities. An alternative to this standard derivation is suggested, in which the word is rather related to the agitated behaviour and movement of whales within a group, as found in the seventeenth century Norwegian description of a Hvalsgrind by Peder Claussøn Friis, as well as in Icelandic expressions such as að vera í grindum or
grinda sig, which refer to the shoaling and mating behaviour of groups of whales.

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Section
Linguistics