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Author

Áslaug Ellen G Yngvadóttir

Published

22.06.2016

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Introduction to the Icelandic Language

Hæ! Learning and pronouncing Icelandic for many, has proven to be challenging. Traveling in Iceland means that you will be struggling with pronouncing strange names of people and places, but don’t worry, we are used to hearing many versions of words -so no shame. Trying is half the challenge. I have faith in you!

You might know that we made the world news with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, not only because of the terrible delays in air-traffic but also because television broadcasters had a terrible time of pronouncing the glacier’s name. Furthermore, Icelandic is also monster of a language, so every noun has 16 different versions of it, depending on the context (so yes, Eyjafjallajökull also has a few different conjugations).

However, here I shall not focus on the impossible parts of Icelandic, but only on the deliciously simple things about the Icelandic language.

Good news #1:

Greeting people is super simple – Hello is halló or simply hæ! (pronounced hi). You can pronounce it with very many different types of tones of voice. Either with too many ”æ” or too friendly. Example:

”Hæ.”

or

”Hæææææ”

or

”Hæ!”

Good news #2:

As a nation, we are not so polite, which is one of the reasons we LOVE polite travellers, politeness is a breath of fresh air for us. An easy way to be polite in Icelandic is simply using the word ”Takk” after everything you ask for. Since our word for ”please” is very inconvenient or ”vinsamlegast” the use of ”takk” is a welcome entry. Example:

”Can I have the raisin at the end of the hot dog, takk?”

or if you’re feeling angry, but would like to express it in a polite manner:

”You are not being helpful, takk”

Good news #3

Mittens and kittens also rhymes in Icelandic. In Icelandic: Vettlingar and kettlingar.

So you remember that, it will come in handy.

Kitten mitten

Good news #4

Dish is Diskur. Fish is fiskur. These two words also rhyme sometimes.  Example:

”Can I have a disk of fisk, takk?”

This one will probably not be useful, since Icelanders will very likely not know what you are talking about. But hey worth a shot, no?

Good news #5

Puffin in Icelandic is exactly the same as ”Monday” in French. So if you took French in elementary school, or if you are indeed, French, this one is easy. If you did not, here is the word:

LUNDI

I don’t think that there is a connection between Mondays and Puffins, linguistically speaking. But who knows.

Good news #6

Goodbye is also simple. More formal version is ”Bless” (literally meaning, be blessed) or you can also say ”bæ” (pronounced exactly like the English bye) You can also mix ”bæ” up, like the ”hæ”. So here I shall say goodbye to you in different versions of bæ like the hæ.

”Bæ.”

”BÆ!”

”Bææææææææ!”

 

 

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Having carefully researched and read the reviews of this trip, we booked and were so glad we did. The tour was well structured with plenty of time at each attraction (45 mins to 1hr at each). There were also refreshment and comfort breaks along the way. The coaches were very comfortable with WiFi and a USB charger point at each seat. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable and definitely enhanced the experience.

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From pick up from our hotel to being dropped back at our hotel around 8 hours later, we had the most fabulous Iceland experience. Our tour guide was excellent, funny and engaging throughout...not overbearing but gave us all we needed. You get an interactive tablet (so bring headphones) that had a map and information as you drove along- excellent way of getting information as you could choose from a wide variety of languages. The map was GPS linked so as you drove the tablet automatically started to tell you information relevant to your position on the tour.

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