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Ég er að læra íslensku

12 August, 2014

It’s three weeks and two days. Yes, I am counting. And as I mentioned the other day, it’s time for me to break out the books (and the instructional website) and do some last minute cramming of the Icelandic language. I admit that part of the excitement I have for visiting Iceland is that I have a proper excuse – and genuine, fast-approaching motivation – to learn the language. Okay, I’m not going to be anything like fluent, but by the time I arrive I should have to at least make a polite stab at a conversation in the language before the inevitable (and less painful for everyone) switch to English.

Maybe it’s because I write, but I have an ability for language and a fascination for the foreign. I already speak Italian pretty well, French passably enough that I don’t need to take a phrase book abroad, and although my basic Spanish has gone rusty, it’s still there and it wouldn’t take me long to recall it if needed. But that isn’t enough. I’m adding (very faltering and basic) Icelandic and beyond that I have a yearn for Russian and Polish. I see Arabic and Japanese written and I want to know what those curious symbols and swooshes mean, what sounds they make, what emotions they evoke in the reader or the speaker. Oh, if only it were possible to become not just a polyglot but an omniglot.

It’s the little things that intrigue me. Yes, there is an order and a symmetry to a lot of grammar that satisfies my logical mind, but it’s the way language smiles from behind the letters that I enjoy. Like the fact that Italian word for skyscraper is “grattacielo” which literally means “skyscratcher”. It’s the same, but one removed. Yesterday I was learning the days of the week in Icelandic. They haven’t quite stuck yet, I can recognise them if not yet say them all, but I like the fact that Wednesday is “Miðvikudagur” which you can probably see means “midweekday”. And never mind naming the next day after Thor the God of War, let’s call it “Fimmtudagur” – Fifthday. Inspired, and cute.

And I can’t wait to discover more of these etymological Easter Eggs as I study more.

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing pictures (she said with envy dripping from each word 😉 )

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