Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NORSE SURNAMES, The SkarfR. Old Norse Cormorants on Water, Cliffs, and in (family) Trees

Names. Important. Name a cow and she gives more milk, and those who study that fact get a Nobel Prize for Veterinary Science 2010, see ://www.vetsweb.com/news/ig-nobel-prize-naming-cows-raises-milk-yield-518.html/

Name us Skarf, as in  the not-admirable Otkell Son of Skarf, and we look up more.  The form SkarfR with the capital R at the end is also written in OW. Norse, Old Norse as Skarfr, and refers to skarfr -- "bird, green cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)" Also found as scraef, or scraeb; see Cormorant entering the English language in 1320, ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changes_to_Old_English_vocabulary/.

In the Runes, it becomes, accusative case (this is not our field) skarf, or s:karf\; with the spaces, punctuation symbols and slash. Find it at ://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONMensNames.shtml/.  Scroll down to SkarfR.  Source there is given as NR s.n. SkarfR. NR means Lena Peterson's Nordiskt runnamnslexikon, a 2002 Dictionary of Names from Old Norse Runic Inscriptions, and see further identification at vikinganswerlady.com.  The Nordiskt runnamnslexikon is not in English, so we are stumped.

It is also a by-name. Initial research is where the name, for us, ended up: In Ireland, see Scarf-Scharfe-Scharf.  In Burnt Njall's Saga, where appears the in-admirable Otkell Son of Skarf, the motto on the old frontispiece for the Njall side is "But a short while is hand fain of blow."  Fain means a warding off, a forbidding, contented, satisfied, constrained - not long before the hand blows yet again.

After that, a name that comes from Cormorant seems tame. It gets worse. 

Skari is a young sea-gull.

Now we look at the Cormorant, with Skarfskerry just across the water in northern Scotland, the flat coastal farmland past the Highlands. 

Cormorants have differing crests.  They are black, a little coloring around the bill. The Phalacrocorax aurius has two crests, a double-crested cormorant. Those are little tufts that appear on the heads of both sexes in mating season  These flourish in North America.  They have taken over some small islands in Long Island Sound, and their droppings smother part of Maine. Poor snowy egrets, pretty as they are, find themselves pushed off. Bluefish and flounder numbers dwindle. It is a crime here to kill migratory birds, but folks have set out to do just that.  A Michigan vigilante group killed 500, no action taken.  There are indeed new rules now, allowing culling - read, egg-oiling and nest destruction.

There are 27-38 species, related to pelicans, frigate birds, anhingas - says March 2009's Natural History magazine, at page 255 (the source of the info so far).  Richard J. King wrote it. Some cormorants can't fly - they are on the Galapagos. There are pygmy cormorants in Eastern Europe.

The Great Cormorants, like our double-crester: They can dive over 100 feet down in the water. In the Southern Hemisphere, they go down 475 feet.  They build nests most anywhere - rocks, sand, you name it. They grunt.  They do not sing.

Bible:  I read that there is a reference to it as unclean, connected with death. Where?  Or Milton, he writes of Satan sitting like a cormorant on the Tree of Life. Raven Ravenous.  Shakespeare uses cormorant, the article in Natural History says, four times to mean "voracious."

But they eat less than a pelican; but their problem may be heightened visibility. Docks, bays, see them all over.

NORSE SURNAMES. Scharf - Everywhere the Vikings Went. Scharfe, Skarfr. Cormorant, and Construction roots, Scarff, sgarbh

 Norse roots elsewhere:  The cormorant, and construction.

See Ireland, where Sgeir nan Sgarbh, or "skerry of the cormorants",  is the Gaelic with the Norse root skarfr.  See: A New History of Ireland, at //books.google.com/books?id=SJSDj1dDvNUC&pg=PA632&lpg=PA632&dq=cormorant+in+old+norse&source=bl&ots=Z-SDPG11yu&sig=DuZ6nziQ45ye9TdRW8o6ShyXqpw&hl=en&ei=JzkSTNigB8H7lweF6pjyBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false/.

 Skarf, scarf. Etymology Old Norse, see Etymology Online Dictionary:  Another root line -- construction, not cormorant: good nest-builders?

"connecting joint," 1276, probably from O.N. skarfr "nail for fastening a joint." A general North Sea Gmc. ship-building word (cf. Du. scherf, Swed. skarf, Norw. skarv), the exact relationship of all these is unclear. Also borrowed into Romanic (cf. Fr. ├ęcart, Sp. escarba); perhaps ult. from P.Gmc. *skerf-, *skarf- (cf. O.E. sceorfan "to gnaw, bite").

The connections seem to continue between Norse roots and the name Skarf, Scharf, Scharfe.  The ending "e" is arbitrary, added by my grandfather in 1890 or so in Ottawa where the family farms were,  to distinguish his line from all the others relatives around, and so help out the post office), and other spellings.

See Surname Scharfe, Yorkshire, England - Vikings?.  It fits the history.  There are also many, many Jewish Scharfs we now find. 


See the reference at the localhistories site here to Viking conquest of Orkney. See ://www.localhistories.org/viking.html/; and throughout Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, trading with the Byzantine Empire.  Now to look for Byzantine Scharfs. The name itself would predate the Middle German use of it; so we are not convinced the name was originally germanic; it went where the raiders went. And settled.  And intermarried. And simply took.  And slaved, and did what they did. Is that so? Would a slave or apprentice of a Viking take in any way the name of the Viking?

See the wingspan of the name - at Scarff spelling form,  ://www.ancestry.com/facts/scarff-family-history.ashx/ and ://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.scarff/25/mb.ashx/.

NORSE SURNAMES. Stromness: and family name Norse Origins. Otkell, Son of Skarf

Stromness; and family name Norse origins.

The main town is Stromness, an old Viking layout with the curved streets to defeat the winds, old cobbles. For more on Stromness, see www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/stromness/stromness/index.

Look up your birth name.

We found name-roots in Skarfskerry, Scotland, across the water; and scraeb. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changes_to_Old_English_vocabulary-"

Cormorant was in the Old English vocabulary, 1320 Scrabster, then to Skarfskerry and Skarfr listed in Viking Men's Names at www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONMensNames. Skarfr green cormorant.
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Note to self on progress. Self?

We are reading old sagas.

In the Old Icelandic, for Skarfr, we went to www.northvegr.org/zoega/h369.php; and to the Old Irish (Vikings going a-viking) as Skafr at listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0307&L=old-irish-l&T=0&P=11459. Old Irish skafr for cormorant also. Icelandic Saga of Burnt Njall: son of Skarf: this is a limited quote for educational purposes that should not offend any copyright.


"...here was a man named Otkell; he was the son of Skarf, the son of Hallkell, who fought with Grim of Grimsness, and felled him on the holm. (1) This Hallkell and Kettlebjorn the Old were brothers.
Otkell kept house at Kirkby; his wife's name was Thorgerda; she was a daughter of Mar, the son of Runolf, the son of Naddad of the Faroe Isles. Otkell was wealthy in goods. His son's name was Thorgeir; he was young in years, and a bold dashing man."

From www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/epics/TheStoryofBurntNjal/chap47.Son of Skarf.
Find a readable total version in paragraph form, see (our excerpt is from section 47. OF OTKELL IN KIRKBY) the Northvegr.org site at ://www.northvegr.org/lore/njal/017.php/.

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Skarfs around in Iceland, then scharfes in Ireland, earliest 1516 - back to Scotland; then off to Australia. What's in a name? John and Ann Scharf immigrated from Kilkenny to Ottawa River Valley, Ontario. Scariff - An Scairbh, Ireland at www.tageo.com/index-e-ei-v-03-d-447477.htm">An Scairbh, County Clare, alt.name Scariff. See also walks.iwai.ie/derg/scariff/ the site for Walks at Scariff. Linking back to ourselves, Ireland Road Ways.