F = Flyting


Flyting is a sort of contest involving an exchange of insults.  In Germanic tales, it usually occurred between two warriors, each of whom is trying to show that he is bigger and braver and knows more words.

Here are some instances from literature:

(from Troilus and Cressida, by Shakespeare)
Ajax: Thou bitch-wolf’s son, canst thou not hear? Feel then.
Thersites: The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!

But soft!  I have here a reenactment of such an exchange:

Does it sound like Rap?  Flyting is thought to be one of the origins of Rap.  If I had more time, I would expand on this.  Instead, here is a Flyting session staged between a Scot and Margaret Thatcher (if you suspend your disbelief…)

8 comments on “F = Flyting

  1. I can't see the videos at work. I'll return when I get home. 😉

  2. Cherdo says:

    The examples are great – but the second one was priceless! Love it! I didn't know this term.

  3. Hi Diana – that wasn't bad … and I didn't know about Flyting .. he was good and enamoured .. she could have been a little better, a bit more rambunctious and stronger in spirt … rambunctious – good word and hope it conveys what I mean!!!Cheers Hilary

  4. This is wonderful Diana! I had to go on line to see how flyting is pronounced. The videos are great. I'm always at a loss for words in an argument. And to think it's the origin of rap…so cool!

  5. Diana Wilder says:

    Hi, Debra – I think you'll enjoy them. There is one video (not posted: I didn't have room) filmed in 1938 with a Swede, and he sounds exactly like a rapper in diction and rhythm. Just when I think something is new, I find that it has been around for over a millennium.

  6. Diana Wilder says:

    I found myself wondering if 'Flyting' was a Norse or Old English term. It was the first I'd heard of it, myself, when I was researching for alphabetical posts on 'literature'. I have to say, some of the passages were unprintable.

  7. Diana Wilder says:

    Margaret Thatcher was certainly capable of rambunctiousness. …though the time I liked the best (all very ladylike) was the meeting in North America with the President of the US and the Prime Minister of Canada and, if I recall correctly, a couple other dignitaries. Word was sent that 'casual' was the order of the day. The others showed up in their shirtsleeves or wearing golfing attire. Mrs. Thatcher arrived in a silk dress and pearls. I'd always admired her.

  8. Diana Wilder says:

    Hi, Sharon -In an argument, I can see you citing instances with impeccable supporting information, said with a smile. It would certainly disarm me!

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