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English: Infinitive To Sing

I sing.

We sing.

You (singular) sing.

You (plural) sing.

He / She / It sings.

They sing.

Spanish: Infinitivo Cantar

Yo canto

Nosotros cantamos.

Tu cantas

Ustedes cantan (or vosotros cantais)

El/ Ella / Lo canta

Ellos / Ellas cantan.

CONNOTATION: The extra tinge or taint of meaning each word carries beyond the minimal, strict definition found in a dictionary. For instance, the terms civil war, revolution and rebellion have the same denotation; they all refer to an attempt at social or political change. However, civil war carries historical connotations for Americans beyond that of revolution or rebellion. Likewise, revolution is often applied more generally to scientific or theoretical changes, and it does not necessarily connote violence. Rebellion, for many English speakers connotes an improper uprising against a legitimate authority (thus we speak about "rebellious teenagers" rather than "revolutionary teenagers"). In the same way, the words house and home both refer to a domicile, but home connotes certain singular emotional qualities and personal possession in a way that house doesn't. I might own four houses I rent to others, but I might call none of these my home, for example. Much of poetry involves the poet using connotative diction that suggests meanings beyond "what the words simply say." Contrast with denotation.

CONSONANCE: A special type of alliteration in which the repeated pattern of consonants is marked by changes in the intervening vowels--i.e., the final consonants of the stressed syllables match each other but the vowels differ. As M. H. Abrams illustrates in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, examples include linger, longer, and languor or rider, reader, raider, and ruder. Do not confuse consonance with a consonant (see below). See also assonance and sound symbolism.

CONSONANT: A speech sound that is not a vowel. To download a PDF file listing consonants and their symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet, click here.

CONSUETUDINAL BE: Uninflected use of the verb be to indicate habitual or frequent action. This grammatical structure is characteristic of Black Vernacular. An example would be as follows: "What you be doing on Thursdays?" "I be working every afternoon." Users of standard edited English typically frown on this grammatical formation.

CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE: Literature written "at the present moment." Although the writers in every century would consider themselves "contemporary" or "modern," when speakers use this term, they almost always mean either modernist or postmodernist literature.

CONTEXTUAL SYMBOL: A unique or original symbol an author creates within the context of an individual work or an author's collected works. Examples include the Snopes family in Faulkner's collected works, who together function as a symbol of the South's moral decay, or the town of Castle Rock, Maine, which in Stephen King's works functions as a microcosmic symbol of human society. Contrast with cultural symbol, below.

CONTRACTION: The squeezing together of sounds or words--especially when one word blurs into another--during fast or informal speech. Contractions such as I'm (I am), he's (he is), and they're (they are) are common in verbal communication, but they are often considered too loose for more formal writing.

CONTRAPASSIO ("counter-suffering): A thematic principle involving situational irony in which a punishment's nature corresponds exactly to the nature of a crime. Much of Dante's Inferno revolves around elaborate contrapassio.

CONTRASTIVE PAIR: Another term for a minimal pair.

CONTROL TEXT: A specific text upon which a modern edition is based. For instance, there are at least three dominant manuscript traditions of Langland's Piers Plowman poem: the A-text, the B-text, and the C-text (and possibly a Z-text, as recent scholarship has tentatively suggested). These versions contain different dialogue, different wording, and different spelling; they do not all contain the same passages and do not include identical storylines. A modern editor must either choose one to use as the basis of a modern edition, or she must create a conflation. Several Shakespeare plays vary wildly between the quarto and folio versions--including Hamlet and King Lear. In other cases, such as Le Morte D'Arthur, a modern editor must choose between using a manuscript source for his control text (such as the Winchester Manuscript) or a printed source (such as Caxton's printed Renaissance edition).

CONVENTION: A common feature that has become traditional or expected within a specific genre (category) of literature or film. In Harlequin romances, it is conventional to focus on a male and female character who struggle through misunderstandings and difficulties until they fall in love. In western films of the early twentieth-century, for instance, it has been conventional for protagonists to wear white hats and antagonists to wear black hats. The wandering knight-errant who travels from place to place, seeking adventure while suffering from the effects of hunger and the elements, is a convention in medieval romances. It is a convention for an English sonnet to have fourteen lines with a specific rhyme scheme, abab, cdcd, efef, gg, and so on. The use of a chorus and the unities are dramatic conventions of Greek tragedy, while, the aside, and the soliloquy are conventions in Elizabethan tragedy. Conventions are often referred to as poetic, literary, or dramatic, depending upon whether the convention appears in a poem, short story or novel, or a play.

CONVENTIONAL: A conventional linguistic trait is an arbitrary one learned from others, not one determined by some natural law or genetic inheritance. Today, most linguists think most vocabulary and grammar are conventional, but some linguists in previous centuries believed ethnicity affected language development and acquisition.

CORPUS CHRISTI PLAY: A religious play performed outdoors in the medieval period that enacts an event from the Bible, such as the story of Adam and Eve, Noah's flood, the crucifixion, and so on. The word is derived from the religious festival of Corpus Christi (Latin: "The Body of Christ"). See also cycle and mystery play.

CORRESPONDENCES: An integral part of the medieval and Renaissance model of the universe known as the "Chain of Being." The idea was that different links on the Chain of Being were interconnected and had a sort of sympathetic correspondence to each other. Each type of being or object (men, beasts, celestial objects, fish, plants, and rocks) had a place within a hierarchy designed by God. Each type of object had a primate, which was by nature the most noble, rare, valuable, and superb example of its type. For instance, the king was primate among men, the lion among beasts, the sun among celestial objects, the whale among fish, the oak among trees, and the diamond among rocks. Often, there was a symbolic link between primates of different orders--such as the lion being a symbol of royalty, or the king sleeping in a bed of oak. This symbolic link was a "correspondence." However, correspondences were thought to exist in the material world as well as in the world of ideas. Disturbances in nature would correspond to disturbances in the political realm (the body politic), in the human body (the microcosm), and in the natural world as a whole (the macrocosm). For instance, if the king were to become ill, Elizabethans might expect lions and beasts to fall sick, rebellions to break out in the kingdom, individuals to develop headaches or fevers, and stars to fall from the sky. All of these events could correspond to each other on the chain of being, and each would coincide with the others. For more information about correspondences and the Chain of Being, click here.

COSMIC IRONY: Another term for situational irony--especially situational irony connected to a fatalistic or pessimistic view of life. See discussion under irony, below.

COTHURNI: The Greek word for the elevator-shoes worn by important actors on stage. See discussion under buskins.

COTTABUS: See kottabos.

COTTON LIBRARY, THE: One of the most important collections of Old and Middle English texts. Click here for details.

COTTON NERO A.X: The Middle English manuscript that includes Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the Legend of Saint Erkenwald. Click here for details.

COTTON VITELLIUS A.XV: The Old English manuscript that includes The Passion of Saint Christopher, The Wonders of the East, and The Letter of Alexander to Aristotle, Beowulf, and the Old English translation of Judith. Click here for details.

COUNTING: A technique of determining stylistic qualities of a piece of writing by counting the numbers of words in paragraphs or sentences, and determining the average number of modifiers, average word lengths, and so on.

COUPLET: Two lines--the second line immediately following the first--of the same metrical length that end in a rhyme to form a complete unit. Geoffrey Chaucer and other writers helped popularize the form in English poetry in the fourteenth century. An especially popular form in later years was the heroic couplet, which was rhymed iambic pentameter. It was popular from the 1600s through the late 1700s. Much Romantic poetry in the early 1800s used the couplet as well. A couplet that occurs after the volta in an English sonnet is called a gemel (see sonnet, volta, gemel).

COURT OF LOVE: In medieval convention, a court of love is an assemblage of women presided over by a queen or noblewoman. At this mock-court, various young knights or courtiers are summoned to court and put on "trial" by the ladies for their crimes against love. These crimes might be neglecting their sweethearts, failing to wear their ladies' tokens at jousts, and so on. Chaucer himself may have been summoned to a court of love for his "libelous" depiction of Criseyde in Troilus and Criseyde, and Queen Anne may have required him to write The Legend of Good Women as a penance for his literary "crimes." In "The Wife of Bath's Tale," we find an inversion of the normal play-acting in which King Arthur gives Gwenevere and her ladies the right to try a rapist-knight for his crimes. Here, the women literally have power of life or death over the subject. Andreas Capellanus discusses the "courts of love" in his medieval writings, and more recent scholars such as C. S. Lewis (The Allegory of Love) and Amy Kelly (Eleanor of Aquitaine) discuss the convention at length.

COURTLY LOVE (Medieval French: fin amour or amour courtois): Possibly a cultural trope in the late twelfth-century, or possibly a literary convention that captured popular imagination, courtly love refers to a code of behavior that gave rise to modern ideas of chivalrous romance. The term itself was popularized by C. S. Lewis' and Gaston Paris' scholarly studies, but its historical existence remains contested in critical circles. The conventions of courtly love are that a knight of noble blood would adore and worship a young noble-woman from afar, seeking to protect her honor and win her favor by valorous deeds. He typically falls ill with love-sickness, while the woman chastely or scornfully rejects or refuses his advances in public but privately encourages him. Courtly love was associated with (A) nobility, since no peasants can engage in "fine love"; (B) secrecy; (C) adultery, since often the one or both participants were married to another noble who was unloved; and (D) paradoxically with chastity, since the passion should never be consummated due to social circumstances, thus it was a "higher love" unsullied by selfish carnal desires or political concerns of arranged marriages. In spite of this ideal of chastity, the knightly characters in literature usually end up giving in to their passions with tragic results--such as Lancelot and Guenevere's fate, or that of Tristan and Iseult.

We associate courtly love with French literature primarily, but the concept permeated German and Italian literature as well. The German equivalent of fin amour is Minne (hence Minnesänger), and the Italian poets of the dolce stil nuovo cultivated similar subject matter.

The convention of courtly love eventually becomes a source of parody. Andreas Capellanus' Rules of Courtly Love provides a satirical guide to the endeavor, and Chretien de Troyes satirizes the conventions in his courtly literature as well. Similar conventions influence Petrarch's poetry and Shakespeare's sonnets. These sonnets often emphasize in particular the idea of "love from afar" and "unrequited love," and make use of imagery and wording common to the earlier French tradition.

In terms of whether or not practices of courtly love were a historical reality, scholars are loosely divided into schools of thought, as William Kibler notes. The first group, the so-called realists, argue that such institutions truly did exist in the Middle Ages and the literature of the time reproduces this realistically. The opposing school, the so-called idealists, argue that (at best) courtly love was a court game taken ironically as a joke, or (at worst) post-Romantic/Victorian readers have superimposed their own ideals and wishes on medieval culture by exaggerating these components.

CRADLE TRICK: A sub-category of the "bed-trick," this is a folk motif in which the position of a cradle in a dark room leads one character to climb into bed with the wrong sexual partner. It appears prominently in Chaucer's "The Reeve's Tale." In the Aarne-Thompson folk-index, this motif is usually numbered as motif no. 1363.

CREOLE: A native language combining the traits of multiple languages, i.e., an advanced and fully developed pidgin. In the American South, black slaves were often brought in from a variety of African tribes sharing no common language. On the plantation, they developed first a pidgin (limited and simplified) version of English with heavy Portuguese and African influences. This pidgin allowed slaves some rudimentary communication with each other and with their slave masters. In time, they lost their original African languages and the mixed speech became the native tongue of their children--a creole. Contrast with pidgin.

CRESCENDO: Another term for rhetorical climax. See climax, rhetorical, above.

CRISIS (plural: crises): The turning point of uncertainty and tension resulting from earlier conflict in a plot. At the moment of crisis in a story, it is unclear if the protagonist will succeed or fail in his struggle. The crisis usually leads to or overlaps with the climax of a story, though some critics use the two terms synonymously. See climax, literary, above.

CRITICAL READING: Careful analysis of an essay's structure and logic in order to determine the validity of an argument. Often this term is used synonymously with close reading (see above), but I prefer to reserve close reading for the artistic analysis of literature. Click here for more information about critical reading. Cf. close reading.

CROSSED-D: Another term for the capital letter eth.

CROSSED RHYME: In long couplets, especially hexameter lines, sufficient room in the line allows a poet to use rhymes in the middle of the line as well as at the end of each line. Swinburne's "Hymn to Proserpine" illustrates its use:

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from Thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.

In the excerpt above, the words in red are part of crossed rhyme, and the words in green are regular rhyme. Crossed rhyme is also called interlaced rhyme. Contrast with internal rhyme and leonine rhyme.

CTHULHU MYTHOS (also spelled Cthulu and Kutulu, pronounced various ways): Strongly influential in pulp science fiction and early twentieth-century horror stories, the Cthulhu mythos revolves around a pantheon of malign alien beings worshipped as gods by half-breed cultists. These aliens were invented and popularized by pulp fiction horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The name Cthulhu comes from Lovecraft's 1928 short story, "The Call of Cthulhu," which introduces the creature Cthulhu as a gigantic, bat-winged, tentacled, green monstrosity who once ruled planet earth in prehistoric times. Currently in a death-like state of hibernation, it now awaits an opportunity to rise from the underwater city of R'lyeh and plunge the earth once more into darkness and terror. August Derleth later coined the term "Cthulhu mythos" to describe collectively the settings, themes, and alien beings first imagined by Lovecraft but later adapted by pulp fiction authors like Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, and Brian Lumley. Some common elements, motifs, and characters of the mythos include the following:

  • "The Great Old Ones," an assortment of ancient, horrible, powerful (and often unpronounceable) deities/aliens including Cthulhu, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, Hastur, Dagon, and Yog-Sothoth.

  • "The Elder Gods/Elder Things," A term used interchangeably with "The Great Old Ones" by Lovecraft, but used by August Derleth to refer to a separate group of aliens at war with the evil "Great Old Ones." They serve as a deus ex machina in several short stories of the Cthulhu mythos.

  • Servitor races, i.e., lesser alien species that worship and/or act as slaves to The Great Old Ones, including the shape-changing shoggoths, the intelligent fungus crabs (Mi-go) living on Pluto, the tentacled star-spawn, and the aquatic race of "Deep Ones" living near Devil's Reef in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth."

  • The imaginary town of Arkham, New England, used as a setting, along with nearby towns like Dunwich and Innsmouth along the Miskatonic river valley.

  • The theme of insanity (often protagonists suffer mental breakdowns merely by viewing one of the Old Ones).

  • The appearance of forbidden books of ancient and dangerous lore, such as the fictional Necronomicon, The Book of Eibon, and Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

CULTURAL SYMBOL: A symbol widely or generally accepted as meaning something specific within an entire culture or social group, as opposed to a contextual symbol created by a single author that has meaning only within a single work or group of works. Examples of cultural symbols in Western culture include the cross as a symbol of Christianity, the American flag as a symbol of America's colonial history of thirteen colonies growing into fifty states, the gold ring as a symbol of marital commitment, the Caduceus as a symbol of medicine, and the color black as a symbol of mourning. Examples of cultural symbols in other cultures include white as a symbol of mourning in Japan, the Yin-Yang sphere as an oriental symbol of oppositional forces in balance, the white crane as a symbol of longevity in Mandarin China, and so forth. Any writer in a specific culture could use one of these symbols and be relatively confident that the reader would understand what each symbol represented. Thus, if a writer depicted a pedophilic priest as trampling a crucifix into the mud, it is likely the reader would understand this action represents the way the priest tramples Christian ideals, and so forth. Contrast with contextual symbol and archetype.

CYBERPUNK MOVEMENT: (1) A loose school of science fiction authors including William Gibson, Bruce Stirling, Rudy Rucker, and Neal Stephenson who rose in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. (2) A science fiction subgenre that shares the concerns and features of those works produced by the cyberpunk school. Features of their novels and short stories in this period include the following motifs:

  • a disturbing, amoral vision of the near-future focusing on urban life, often in post-industrial dystopias.

  • casual violence between gangs, private armies of mercenaries, and decadent government agencies

  • ubiquitous (and often dangerous) cybernetic implants and sensory enhancements in the general population

  • powerful multi-national corporations or franchises that have gradually become more influential than passé governments

  • appearances of high-tech multicultural crime syndicates--especially the Japanese yakuza and Jamaican drug posses

  • renegade or illegal artifical intelligence programs seeking to free themselves from corporate control

  • cheap designer drugs or precise mind-altering and mood-altering chemicals

  • failures of space travel, which forces ever greater numbers of people into cramped urban conditions

  • finally (and most especially) computer hackers who link to computers by directly plugging their brains into networks (often referred to as "jacking in" in cyberpunk parlance) or by wearing virtual reality goggles.

Common themes include the dehumanization, commodification, and mechanization of the individual; the negative effects of commercialization upon society; and implicit philosophical questions regarding consciousness and sensory reality. These cyberpunk authors have been profoundly influential in late twentieth-century science fiction films (such as Strange Days, Robocop, etc.) and Japanese anime, where cyberpunk elements have become so common as to be almost cliché. The "metaverse" or the "Net" imagined by these early authors in the 1980s have been seen as prophetic of the later real-world rise of the internet after 1993. Examples of novels, anthologies, short stories, and other literary works from the cyberpunk movement include Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Islands in the Net, and "Johnny Mnemonic." (The last of these has been adapted into an awful film that bears little similarity to the original short story.) More recently, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash has put a more satirical spin on the genre.

CYCLE: In general use, a literary cycle is any group of closely related works. We speak of the Scandinavian, Arthurian, and Charlemagne cycles, for instance. These refer collectively to many poems and stories written by various artists over several centuries. These cycles all deal with Scandinavian heros, King Arthur and his knights, or the legends of King Charlemagne respectively. More specifically, a mystery cycle refers to the complete set of mystery plays performed during the Corpus Christi festival in medieval religious drama (typically 45 or so plays, each of which depicted a specific event in biblical history from the creation of the world to the last judgment). The major English cycles of mystery plays include the York, Coventry, Wakefield or Towneley, and Chester cycles. See Corpus Christi play, above. See also sonnet cycle.

CYFARWYDD: A Welsh professional storyteller. The equivalent Irish term is an ollamh. Cf. bard and sceop.

CYHYDEDD HIR: A syllabic verse form in ancient Welsh poetry. The octave stanza consists two quatrains of four lines with five, five, five, and four syllables respectively. The rhyme scheme is AAAx AAAx, with X's indicating unrhymed lines. See octave and rhyme.

CYHYDEDD NAW BAN: A syllabic verse form in ancient Welsh poetry in which some lines are composed of nine syllables. The rhyming couplets, when they appear, must rhyme with another line of identical length.

CYNGHANEDD (pronounced kun HAN neth, lit. Welsh for "symphony"): A Welsh term that loosely denotes sound similarities peculiar to Welsh poetry, especially alliteration and internal rhyme. Typically, the consonants in one word or line repeat in the same pattern at the beginning and end of the next word or line--but the vowel sounds between the consonants change slightly. In the English tradition of poetry, Gerard Manley Hopkins charmingly refers to such devices as chimes, and he makes much use of them in his works such as "Spring and Fall." See also awdl and englyn. For an example of cynghanedd in English, click here.

CYNING: A king, another term for an Anglo-Saxon hlaford.

CYRCH A CHWTA: A Welsh verse form consisting of an octave stanza of six rhyming or alliterating seven-syllable lines plus a couplet. The second line of the couplet rhymes with the first six lines. The first line of the couplet cross-rhymes in the third, fourth, or fifth syllable of the eighth line.

CYRILLIC: The alphabet used to write Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian. The name comes from the Greek missionary Saint Cyril, who traveled from Byzantium to convert Slavic races to Christianity.

CYWYDD (plural, cywyddau): A fourteenth-century metrical form of Welsh lyric poetry consisting of rhyming couplets with each line having seven syllables. Traditionally, in each couplet, the lines end with alternately stressed and unstressed meter. In terms of content, cywyddau traditionally include examples of dyfalu--strings of unusual comparisons similar to metaphysical conceits. The genre is associated with the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym.

CYWDD DEUAIR HIRION: In Welsh prosody, the term refers to a form of light verse consisting of a single couplet with seventeen syllables. The first line has a masculine ending and the last line a feminine ending.

CYWYDD LLOSGYRNOG: A type of Welsh verse consisting of a sestet stanza in which the syllable count is eight, eight, seven, eight, eight, and seven respectively. The first two lines rhyme and cross-rhyme with the middle syllable of the sixth line and the third and sixth lines rhyme with each other. Rime coueé or tail-rhyme has a similar scheme.

DACTYL: A three-syllable foot consisting of a heavy stress and two light stresses. Examples of words in English that naturally constitute dactyls include strawberry, carefully, changeable, merrily, mannequin, tenderly, prominent, buffalo, glycerin, notable, scorpion, tedious, horrible, and parable. Verses written in feet that follow this pattern are said to be in dactylic meter. For further discussion, see meter, or click here for a PDF handout contrasting dactyls and other types of feet.

DANEGELD: The practice of paying extortion money to Vikings to make them go away, often associated in particular with the Anglo-Saxon king "Aethelred Unraed." His nickname means "Aethelred the Unready," or more accurately translated, "Aethelred the Uncounciled." At various points in history, British kings paid as much as 20,000 pounds in silver to appease the Vikings and prevent invasion--a disastrous policy that bankrupted the island and encouraged the return of extortionate Vikings every few years. This failed policy of Danegeld ultimately led to large portions of northern England being settled by the Vikings in the area known as the Danelaw, which in turn played a key part in the evolution of the English language through the incorporation of Scandinavian loan-words. Words like skiff, ship, and shirt, for instance, are all loan-words borrowed from the Vikings. NB: Danegeld should not be confused with wergild.

DANELAW (Anglo-Saxon, Dena lagu): The region of northeast England up to the southern part of Scotland that was conquered and inhabited by Viking invaders. In 871 CE, a Wessex army under King Aethelred (the West Saxon king) and his brother Alfred confronted the Danish Vikings at the Battle of Ashdown (in modern Berkshire). Unfortunately, after a series of losses, Wessex began paying annual Danegeld (tribute) to the Vikings. Aethelred died soon after, and Viking settlers swarmed into the northern parts of England while their raiders occupied London.

The Vikings continued their expansion until 878 CE. That year, King Alfred the Great rallied men from Somerset and Wiltshire and decisively defeated the Danish Vikings. The Danes were too numerous to dislodge from their holdings, but it was clear that they would not be able to expand their territory while Alfred lived. King Alfred freed London from Danish occupation in 886. At this point, Alfred made a treaty with the Danes so that England was divided. The northeastern section between the Rivers Thames and Tees was officially declared to be Danish territory and later become known as the Danelaw (where the inhabitants followed Danish law from 890 onward). The influence of this period of Viking settlement is still visible in the North of England and the East Midlands, especially in toponyms or place-names. Towns with name-endings such as -by or -thorp are all places named by the Viking settlers.

DANS MACABRE (French, "morbid dance"): A gruesome motif or trend that spread through late medieval Europe's visual art, architecture, sculpture, and poetry in the wake of the Black Plague (1347-1349 CE) and which remained common in woodcuts, gravemarkers, and cenotaphs through the Renaissance two hundred years later. Visually, it took the form of imagery involving bones, skeletons, graves, and similar death-imagery, most famously in images of living revelers intermixed with animated skeletons carousing, eating, drinking, and dancing. Functionally, the art was a memento mori, a reminder of death's inevitability in the face of each individual's mortality. In terms of literature, we find traces of the dans macabre motif appearing in tombstone epitaphs such as "Such as I am, So Shalt Thou Be," or poetic verse such as "Golden lads and girls all must, / As chimney-sweeps, come to dust."

DARK LADY SONNETS: Sonnets 127-147 of the Shakespearean collection published in 1609 are known loosely as the "Dark Lady" sonnets because most of them have an implied audience or implied subject-matter of a mysterious sexually promiscuous woman with dark features. This contrasts with the traditional Petrarchan conceits of a fair-haired and fair-skinned lover who is coldly aloof to the male speaker's wooing. Contrast with the "young man" sonnets earlier in the collection.

DARRA∂ARLO∂ (ON, "Song of Dorrud"): In the last chapters of Njal's Saga, a minor character named Dorrud sees a group of twelve mysterious women (probably intended to be the Valkyries). The women enter into a room and sing as they weave a loom composed of human heads, intestines, swords, and arrows--an idea often associated with the Norns (the Old Norse equivalent of the Greek Fates or Roman Parcae). Scholars traditionally refer to this section of Njal's Saga and the women's song as the darra∂arlo∂.

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