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Icelandic Language Blog

The First Day of Summer, Icelandic-Style (and a Knuckle-Calendar, Just For Fun) Posted by on Apr 20, 2017

Today in Reykjavik, it was a whopping 3 degrees (C), even though it is, according to the Icelanders, the first day of summer. The old Icelandic calendar is called the misseristal, or semester-count, and it’s been used since the Settlement Age. It emphasizes the two “semesters” of the year – summer and weather – with…

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Suggested Reading: Four Icelandic Books Posted by on Mar 31, 2017

In my language studies in German, Russian, and Icelandic, nothing has been more valuable to me than reading a book to bolster my skills. I am always frustrated early on in my studies, and sometimes I throw in the towel (Russian is on hold at the moment). But when I force myself to read a…

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Let’s Get Up Close And Personal With Impersonal Verbs Posted by on Mar 20, 2017

Impersonal verbs are not unique to Icelandic (e.g., German “mir ist kalt” [to me it is cold] rather than “ich bin kalt” [I am cold]), but they are perhaps comparatively common. Impersonal in this case means that the subject of the sentence is the recipient of the action, instead of the do-er. The predicate…

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Haunting Images Of Iceland’s Abandoned Farms Posted by on Mar 9, 2017

In 2004, poet and publisher Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson and photographer Nökkvi Elíasson paired up with one goal in mind: assembling Nökkvi’s twenty-years’ worth of photographs of Iceland’s abandoned farms and publishing them alongside Sigurðsson’s poetry. The resulting collection reveals the ways that Icelandic lifestyles have changed overtime: details as meager as the shape and size…

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Red Christmas, Ergo White Easter: Snjóflóð 2017 Posted by on Feb 28, 2017

When Snjóflóð 2017 (“avalanche”) hit Reykjavik this past weekend, I started to think about a blog I’d prepared but not published this past December. And I decided to resurrect it from the pile. The weekend felt odd to me – like the snow had come too late. And then I remembered the Icelandic saying, rauð…

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