Cheval ou baleine ? Les noms du morse dans les mondes septentrionaux (IXe-milieu du XVIe siècle)


fr Anthropozoologica 53 (15) - Pages 175-183

Published on 26 October 2018

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animaux aquatiques et monstres des mers septentrionales (imaginer, connaître, exploiter, de l’Antiquité à 1600)

Horse or whale? Naming the walrus in Northern Europe (ninth to mid-sixteenth century)

One of the main features of the relation between humans and the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus (Linnaeus, 1758)) is terminological plurality. Our lexicographical approach specifies the meanings of words referring to the walrus in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, and the links between them. Those terms are both numerous and ambiguous, while some of them actually mean ivory rather than walrus. In order to achieve our study, we use narrative, juridical and practical sources. Our examination of words also bears results in the fields of food history and animal symbolism.


Nordic countries, walrus, horse-whale, hvalr, ivory, animal names, lexicography, food, monsters.

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