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.

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