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A Deviant Word Hoard: A Preliminary Study of Non-Normative Terms in Early Medieval Scandinavia

Ruiter, Keith


Keith Ruiter


Norms, normativity, and the transgression thereof have long been topics of special interest in the social sciences; however, these studies routinely demonstrate an inherent fluidity between normativity and deviance, making the study of either in isolation problematic. For this reason, deviance and normativity are most often considered together, due to the manifold ways that understandings of one naturally aids understanding the other. From the perspective of language, this is in fact not especially surprising as concepts tend to be most easily defined by what they are not, rather than what precisely they are. This fluidity of understandings of deviance and normativity is highly visible in many Old Norse texts as well and recently the study of norms, normativity, and deviance in these texts has enjoyed a certain vogue, not the least demonstrated by the present collection of papers. However, examinations of this normative fluidity are few and far between, as are lexical and semantic studies of the terms used to delineate non-normative behaviors, which highlights a problematic hole in our understandings of the contemporary associations around these terms. The present paper will proceed by conducting an examination of select lexical choices in medieval Scandinavian texts to better understand the contemporary web of associations surrounding non-normative and transgressive behaviors.


Ruiter, K. (2019). A Deviant Word Hoard: A Preliminary Study of Non-Normative Terms in Early Medieval Scandinavia. In Social Norms in Medieval ScandinaviaAmsterdam University Press

Acceptance Date Apr 10, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2019
Publication Date Aug 31, 2019
Deposit Date May 30, 2019
Publisher Amsterdam University Press
Series Title Beyond Medieval Europe
Book Title Social Norms in Medieval Scandinavia
Chapter Number 11
ISBN 9781641892407
Keywords Normativity, transgression, Old Norse, norms, law, medieval, Scandinavia
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