INTRODUCTION TO THE ICELANDIC LANGUAGE

10 minute read22 Jun 2016


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.

Cat Picture here

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!”


Alex

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