laugardagur, janúar 19, 2008


When it's this cold after a few warmer days, the streets are dry but edged with crackly white. It is salt rime more than hoarfrost. It is not too slick to cycle over.

Hoar is the English cognate of ON hár. It is the first element of Óðin's psuedonym Hárbarðr, if that name means "greybeard." According to Douglas Harper the word remains in German as the honorific Herr. That would mean it is also in Dutch in Mynheer (or more properly mijnheer -- my Anglicized spelling is from the stories of Washington Irving). This means that the word is in Old Norse twice, once as hár and again as the honorific herra, "lord," borrowed in from an earlier form of German.

Rime is old, too. It might be related to ON rim, rail, though I'm not sure whether a rim can be horizontal. It might be related to rimi, a raised strip of land. I will think of this, now, when I go rattling over the broken pavement pushed up by frost heaves and crusted with salt.

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