Riddles and Kennings

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The skaldic kenning is frequently described as ‘riddling’ or ‘riddle-like’. Valuable work has been done (e. g. Lindow1975) in establishing the structural, linguistic, and cognitive similarities between kennings and riddles, but this has usually been done in terms of the broad modern English sense(s) of the word ‘riddle’ or ‘riddling’. This paper, more specifically, explores the comparison by examining Old Norse riddles, namely items described as gátur in their textual setting, and Old Norse kennings, in the context of each other. In doing so it highlights Old Norse poetic techniques of play and of cognition, how ‘riddling’ strategies work in context, and how both riddles and kennings provide fresh ways of perceiving and understanding the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-68
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Scandinavian Studies
Issue number1
Early online date9 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021


  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics


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