Article published in:Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness: Relational linguistic practice over time and across cultures
Edited by Marcel Bax and Dániel Z. Kádár
[Benjamins Current Topics 41] 2012
► pp. 195–226
Insults, violence, and the meaning of lytegian in the Old English Battle of Maldon
The history of impoliteness — of which insults are a part — and violence are intertwined. In medieval Germanic cultural history, this link manifests itself in historical-pragmatic contexts such as sennur, whettings, and flyting-to-fighting scenarios, which are surveyed in this paper. The ethological origins of such interactions are called into question with reference to the Freudian death drive. Based on the connection between insults and violence, a novel definition of Old English lytegian in the Battle of Maldon is offered, namely ‘jeer, insult’, with comparative support from Icelandic.
Published online: 07 November 2012