At 5:15:14 AM on Sunday, June 3, 2012, maringa713 wrote:

> I haven't been active on here in a while, but I just
> thought of something that I hope I could get answered by
> those with better ON knowledge than me.

> I know that Valkyrie means approximately "chooser of the
> slain". I also know that it has a history in the language,
> and what I'm asking for a translation of would not...

> But if there was a similar word for either "leader of the
> slain" or "protector of the slain", what would it (most
> likely) be? I know it's a difficult question, but I'd just
> like to have some idea.

One possibility is <valvörðr> 'slain-ward, guardian of the
slain'; the first element is as in <valkyrja>, and the
second is <vörðr> 'guardian, watch and ward'. However, this
seems to be 'guardian' in the same sense that Heimdall is
guardian/sentinel of the gods, which is perhaps not quite
the sense that you have in mind.

My safest suggestion, I think, is a hypothetical <valverir>
'defender, protector of the slain'; the first element is as
in <valkyrja>, and the second is an agent noun formed from
the verb <verja> 'to defend'. So far as I know, <verir>
'defender, protector' isn't attested, either free-standing
or in a compound, but agent nouns in <-ir> are not uncommon
with Class I weak verbs (also known as jan-verbs), and
<verja> does belong to that class.

There are other ways of forming agent nouns. For example,
some are formed from present participles, like <gefandi>
'giver', from <gefa> 'to give'. Old Norse actually has an
agent noun <verjandi> from <verja>, but it means (at least
primarily) 'defendant in a suit', so it hardly seems
appropriate. Another is by means of the suffix <-ari>, but
it's of relatively late appearance, apparently borrowed from
Latin <-arius>.

Another would probably yield <vari> when applied to the verb
<verja>, but I hesitate to suggest it, because Old Norse
already has a noun <vari> 'wariness, precaution' and another
<vari> 'the watery substance of the blood'. On the other
hand, ghere *is* a poetic term <vári> that probably means
something like 'defender', though this isn't entirely
certain; a poetic term would probably be appropriate for
what you want, so <valvári> is a possibility.

Finally, if you want to engage in *really* speculative
construction, you could imagine that there might have been a
word <valinn> 'leader of the slain, foremost among the
slain'. The construction is exemplified by poetic <þjóðann>
'prince, ruler', literally something like 'leader of or
foremost among a <þjóð> people', by <dróttinn> 'lord,
master', literally something like 'leader of a <drótt>
household', and by Óðin's byname <Herjann> 'lord/leader of
<herir> armies/hosts'. The variation between <-ann> and
<-inn> is governed by the stem class of the noun from which
the word is derived; <valr> 'the slain' is an i-stem, so it
would take <-inn>. So far as I know, there isn't a trace of
this word, and it's identical in form to the masculine
nominative singular of the past participle <velja> 'to
choose'. On the other hand, Old Norse, like other
languages, has plenty of homonyms, and the fact that it
could be understood both as 'leader of the slain' and
'chosen' has a certain appeal.