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From Skræling(j)ar, the Old Norse word for the indigenous people of Canada. The literal meaning of the word has still not been defined. In Norwegian it means ‘weakling, wretch’ and in modern Icelandic ‘barbarian’ (See Germanic Language Studies – Scandinavian Loanwords in English).

The term does not point toward one particular group, it may refer to the Dorset or Thule, and perhaps even the Beothuk people. There is a lot to say and to study about the way the native people are depicted in the Vínland sagas. The bottom line seems to be that communication between the Greenland settlers and native people was difficult, hostilities took place but trade exchanges too (See: A New Introduction to Old Norse: Part II, page 117, 282, 301).

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