Lifern - Meaning

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James Brandon

Senior Member
English + French - UK
I believe "a lifern" is a mythical animal, as depicted on medieval tapestries (in Europe). I remember seeing the word in some museum. I wanted some more information and was quite sure I would find the word in a standard dictionary and/or on the web, but I can only find references (via the internet) on gamers' websites (hence the link to a mythical creature).

I wonder if anyone would be able to describe the said animal. I presume the word would be pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, with a short /i/ (as in /ship/ for instance); the second syllable would be a schwa (as in the 2nd syllable of /paper/), with the 'r' before the final 'n' almost not pronounced.

Suggestions welcome.
 
  • Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Could it be that you mean wyvern? It sounds similar, and there are plenty of images of it available on a search engine. Looks like a dragon.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I have just done a Search Inside search via Google, i.e. searching through books, and the word comes up but one book is in Latin and is barely legible (it has been digitized, as is), and all the other titles are in German, which I cannot read!

    Some German-speakers may be able to help. The books appear to relate to theology rather than to mythology. Then again, a question of viewpoint.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It could, as a wild guess, be a cross between a lion and a wyvern - that would be either a livern or a wyon:D

    Heraldic beasts (and adventure games) don't seem to encounter the same kind of inter-species breeding problems that make the flying pig so difficult. I have to confess, of course, that I can find no trace of either of these wonders.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Although I have found references to the word through Google's Search Inside (books) facility, as I said, they are in German. Any German-speaker out there who might show an interest?...

    Oddly enough, the word does not appear in the Oxford Reference Dictionary, which I have checked today.

    Also, I seem to remember that the word "lifern" is used in one of the songs, in "West Side Story" - one of the songs sung by the White/American gang of German origin. I think it goes: "Liferns, lizards..." But I may be imagining this...
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    Gee Officer Krupke,

    (Riff) Dear kindly Judge, your Honor, my parents treat me rough
    With all their marijuana they won't give me a puff
    They didn't wanna have me but somehow I was had
    Leapin' lizards, that's why I'm so bad

    (No liferns were harmed during the making of this musical!) :)
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    James Brandon said:
    Although I have found references to the word through Google's Search Inside (books) facility, as I said, they are in German. Any German-speaker out there who might show an interest?...

    Oddly enough, the word does not appear in the Oxford Reference Dictionary, which I have checked today.

    Also, I seem to remember that the word "lifern" is used in one of the songs, in "West Side Story" - one of the songs sung by the White/American gang of German origin. I think it goes: "Liferns, lizards..." But I may be imagining this...
    I've never heard anyone refer to the Jets as German :D I think the word in the song lyric must be "leapin' lizards."
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    It's funny how things get misinterpreted! I did not say the Jets in West Side Story were German - I said I thought they were an American gang (of Whites) that might be of German origin. In the LP I have, some of them at least speak with a distinctly Germanic accent, I seem to remember. (I have not listened to it for a long time!) Maybe they are not German at all, and they just put on that accent for fun - actually, that is quite possible. I cannot quite remember now...

    Then I was wrong regarding the reference to "lifern" in the song - as Maxiogee pointed out earlier.

    Finally, I said that, if I do Search Inside (through Google), the word "lifern" does come up, but only in books that are written in German, so that I cannot understand what is said. Hence the German connection, initially. But I have heard the word in English, or come across it.
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    James Brandon said:
    It's funny how things get misinterpreted! I did not say the Jets in West Side Story were German - I said I thought they were an American gang (of Whites) that might be of German origin. In the LP I have, some of them at least speak with a distinctly Germanic accent, I seem to remember. (I have not listened to it for a long time!) Maybe they are not German at all, and they just put on that accent for fun - actually, that is quite possible. I cannot quite remember now...
    Sorry, I didn't mean that I thought they were actually Germans. Because of the melting-pot nature of the US, Americans sometimes are pretty loose with nationalities--I guess I should have said German-American. In any case, this is really interesting because I would have tagged the accent as a kind of New York accent. Never thought of that particular New York accent as being German, but now that you mention it . . . .:D
     
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