What is a kenning? — Guild Wars 2 Forums
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What is a kenning?

Haaznahnuff.1907Haaznahnuff.1907 Member ✭✭
edited December 2, 2020 in Lore

Hello, I wonder about the meaning English and German speakers associate to this word used in game for jotun camps.
From what I collected, a kenning is a metaphoric name in both languages, and is associated to the Germanic/Norse civilisation. It fits jotuns very well, but is there any reason beyond the simple association "jotuns = norse giants"? How does it come to be used for a place?

There are 5 kennings in game for now (citing the wiki):

Kresdor Kenning: a jotun camp located within the Wayfarer Foothills.
Hessdallen Kenning: a jotun citadel found in the area of Troll's Teeth.
Theign Kenning: a point of interest within Theign Spiritwalk.
Haivoissen Kenning: an ancient jotun citadel located within the Ossenfold Shear.
Grogshadow Kenning: a jotun base in Jotun's Shoulders.

I tried to look at their situation to define what a kenning is, to no avail, and formulated 3 hypothesis, using "kenning" in a stretched, figurative meaning.

1. A place to ken each other: a place of gathering, a moot.
All are populated with Jotuns.
Some are associated to jotun tents, some are not (the "village" is further away, as for the Theigh Kenning that is like a chapel for the Hessdallen Kenning?)

2. A place to ken the neighbourhood: an elevated vista or point of interest.
All are on high ground, if not directly at a vista point.

3. A place to ken the world: a spiritual place.
Most are associated to giant, painted, shred stones or megaliths, and spiritual forces (place of power).
(perhaps Grogshadow Kenning in the starting norn area is an exception, although there a shrine to Jormag)

4.The meaning is lost for a long time as their civilisation declined, and let's just have a Nordic-connoted word for those Nordic-inspired creatures.

In French, "kenning" is currently translated into either "gathering" or "belvedere", and I'm on proposing a unique word or periphrasis that is as evocative as "kenning" can be for the English or the German.
So, I would be really interested in knowing what the word evokes to an anglophone or a germanophone versed into fantasy and Nordic lore. What mental pictures does it call forth? What alternative world(s) would you use to try and explain the concept to children or non-English speaking fellows?
Of course, you are welcome to use compound words and... kennings!


  • Eekasqueak.7850Eekasqueak.7850 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Gathering place makes sense to me.

  • What about assembly, or even meeting place? Are they too elaborate for the Jotuns?

  • Eekasqueak.7850Eekasqueak.7850 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Those are all synonyms for gathering place.

  • Fueki.4753Fueki.4753 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2, 2020

    Jötnar (or Jötunn in singular, which the GW2 race Jotun is derived from) are part of the Old Norse mythology, which is strongly entwined with Norse Poetry.

    And from wikipedia, we can learn that:

    Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English poetry.

    Since Arenanet usually doesn't go very deep into meanings of words, we can assume that they simply took a word strongly associated with Old Norse and made it the name for gathering places of a race based on a race from Old Norse mythology.

    Also, Kenning as a word is rather similar to kennel (which is a structure or shelter for dogs or cats), so that may have had an influence in choosing Kenning.