Who hit Bam Margera?

Posted on 25. Jun, 2015 by in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs


Islande 2011 by stephane333 at Flickr.com

Icelandic rap scene received some questionable fame last week when a fight broke out at the Secret Solstice music festival: headlines were made all the way to Europe and USA, stating that Bam Margera had been beaten up by three or four “popular Icelandic rappers”.


To put it in as simple and truthful terms as possible, for some reason a few Icelandic rappers were shown on a video beating up Margera. Originally the news were stating that Bam Margera had allegedly harassed female members of staff and that the rappers had come to rescue. However, soon the story began to take more twists and turns and in the end this is the best summary I think I can give.

Egill Tiny, one of the men seen beating Margera up, says they were not in fact attempting to rescue anyone but themselves. According to an interview by him Bam was harassing people in general, had been doing that for a while and that it was actually him who started the fight (link). Bam’s opinion is that he didn’t harass anyone and that the man he wanted to meet to discuss financial matters with sent his underlings to beat him up instead (link). Margera did originally also state that he wanted to press charges against the rappers (Gísli Pálmi and Egill “Tiny” Thorarensen) but alas, it would seem that Bam decided against it after all… or, as the police put it, was too impatient to do it and left right after talking to the police (link).

Curious details

The above link has another bizarre detail for this story, by the way – an official form for listing injuries in Margera’s name, not completely filled out, that was found tossed on the ground near Leifsstöð. The person who found it assumes it could be possible that since the form is all in Icelandic Bam might have had too much trouble trying to understand it and had flat out given up rather than ask for a translator (in my experience you do always get someone to translate you the forms if you need help with them, but I admit it’s annoyed me a few times that there often is no English option).

Well, it’s not like his Iceland visits have gone that well even before the fight at the festival happened, as upon arrival Bam was briefly arrested for the damages he had caused and left unpaid during his previous visit (link).

Who hit Bam Margera?

So who are Gísli Pálmi and Egill “Tiny” Thorarensen anyway if they’re so popular? Well –  to introduce them it may be best to let their music do it for them.

Gísli Pálmi

Ískaldur (= ice cold)(link). Lyrics here. This one mayyy be done a little bit tongue in cheek, just a hunch. 😀

Set Mig Í Gang (= start me up)(link). Lyrics are included in description.

Draumalandið (= the dream land)(link). Lyrics here.

Egill “Tiny” Thorarensen

Race City (link). By the now broken-up band Quarashi, Egill Tiny was a member and is rapping in this song.

K2R by Halleluwah featuring Tiny (link).


Hulda recommendshulda078

Since we’re talking about Icelandic rap musicians I’ll definitely have to push some more of them, so without further ado –

Úlfur úlfur – Brennum allt (= let’s burn all)(link). A brilliant video shot quite near where I live. 😀

xxx Rottweiler HundarÍ næsta lífi (= in the next life)(link).

Ari Másson & SiffiHugargull (= very difficult to translate, but I could suggest “gold of the mind”)(link). Lyrics are included in the description field. It doesn’t get more Icelandic than this, he’s even rapping in a sort of… rímur-ish way (a traditional Icelandic poetry meter)!

Hi ho yippee yay, Iceland!

Posted on 18. Jun, 2015 by in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs


Iceland flag by biologyfishman at Flickr.com

…or as we say it in Icelandic, hæ hó jibbi jei! Anyone who’s been in the country for the past week has no doubt both seen this line and heard the song it’s from (link) countless times because yesterday was Iceland’s National Day and Sautjándi Júní is actually far more popular song for the day then the real national anthem (link). Let’s look at some photos from yesterday!

17017This is still early – by the end of the day the whole hillside was one thick crowd of people. In the front of the picture is the statue of Christian IX of Denmark handing Iceland constitution. Behind him stands Ingólfur Arnarson, the first permanent Norse settler of Iceland and the man who gave Reykjavík its name. He doesn’t usually have the flag shied on his platform, that’s strictly a National Day addition.

17010Everything you could need for the National Day: regnhlífar (= umbrellas), fánar (= flags), rellur (= pinwheels) and pylsur (=hot dogs, like it says). Rain, patriotism, wind and so much exercise that you’ll need food sooner or later, that’s the National Day in a nutshell!

17012You can also opt for just eating so much sugar it takes you through the day. Many parents take this option with their children and for once it’s just fine, the whole downtown is closed for traffic and full of bouncy castles and other ways of spending all that extra energy.

17078Here’s one example. These… things have become massively popular lately, especially with children. You prop you kid inside one of those and send them rolling on Tjörnin for a while, seems to be great time. 😀

17024Here’s my own favourite part of the day – the parade! Of course when I say parade I mean a group of people moving towards the same direction with more people joining in as the line moves down Laugavegur from Hlemmur to Lækjargata. It tends to float along a few marching bands, street artists, occasionally protesters (none this year, they were already busily protesting by the house of the parliament I think) and of course lots and lots of Icelanders. And balloons. More and more balloons the nearer the parade gets downtown. The reason is that there are companies that like to hand out balloons for free, and though I’m already 36 I may have one as well… I love balloons!

17066Another thing that I love, cotton candy. On the National Day cotton candy stands are absolutely everywhere and the smell of sugar was driving me crazy until I finally caved in and got myself some. It’s a skill to eat it in the windy weather… a skill I’ve yet to master. Everything was sticky. My hands, my camera, my face, my clothes, my hair.

17059As you may have noticed the National Day is a very child oriented occasion here. There’s all kind of activities for the little ones, rest assured it’s almost impossible for them to be bored!

17076Icelandic national dresses. These ladies are wearing faldbúningur, the oldest type of the Icelandic national dresses. Unlike usually in Europe the national dresses of Iceland don’t mark the wearer’s home area but mirror different eras of Icelandic dress instead.

17036This lady is wearing a slightly newer dress type called upphlutur. You can see more Icelandic national dresses here.

17047Oooh visitors from the east! This is still from the parade by the way.

And what would the Norwegians serenade us with? Well – Sit on My Face by Monty Python, apparently. 😀

17056Still the parade. It picks up so much people and the street itself is so narrow that it always ends up taking a very long time just to pass through.

17071Remember that picture of king Christian IX and Ingólfur I posted earlier? Same hill one hour later. There’s a large stage to the left of the picture and also a First Aid + Missing Children point (this year’s casualties were one missing child and one injury that needed a plaster).

All in all the National Day is always a great experience. I warmly recommend it if you happen to be around on the 17th, don’t miss the party (and the free balloons)… hæ hó jibbi jei og jibbi jei, það er kominn sautjándi Júní!

Icelandic – unchangeable?

Posted on 11. Jun, 2015 by in Icelandic culture, Icelandic history


Viking Arms and Armor by Helgi Haldórsson at Flickr.com.

At some point or another anyone interested in Icelandic will come across the popular idea that Icelandic is being kept unchanged, or at least that it has changed very little with time. Occasionally you’ll even hear people claim that Icelandic is so close to Old Norse that Icelanders can still understand it.

Alas, all of the above is untrue, as romantic as it would be to believe otherwise. Icelandic is a language just like any other and trying to keep it “clean” of foreign influence will never completely work. Languages are alive, they develop according to the needs of their speakers and evolve when it best suits the speakers,  so is language preservation therefore even important?

Let’s look at an example of Old Norse:

Hverir vökðu mér
varman dreyra?
segið mér ok segið mér,
sárt var ek leikinn ;
ætlask virðar,
ok veit Tumi,
gleðr mik ok gleðr mik,
Gizur veiða.

Who rose my
warm blood?
Tell me and tell me
I was played with evilly
We aspire
And so knows Tumi
It gladdens me and it gladdens me
To hunt Gissur.

A poem by an unknown author from the age of Sturlungs. Two men are named in it, Tumi, a powerful chieftain of the Asbirnings family and Gissur Þorvaldsson. Of the two Gissur had the unhappy task of bringing Iceland under Norwegian crown, much against the wishes of many Icelandic nobles. Looking quickly at the poem a few things stand out – such as the words ek and mik (ég and mig in contemporary Icelandic) and the lack of -ur endings. The meanings of the words have also changed: “sárt var ek leikinn” would now be said, perhaps, “mér var misþyrmt” (= I was abused).

You can listen to this song here performed by Voces Thules.


Björk bead finalized by possan at Flickr.com.

Icelandic itself has changed a great deal as well. This can be seen in f.ex old texts that at their origin used words or grammar that either sounds odd now or is no longer correct.

Augað mitt og augað þitt,
ó þá fögru steina…

(My eye and your eye, those beautiful gems…)

So begins the most famous love poem of Iceland by Vatnsenda Rósa, Rósa of Vatnsendi. Yet when you hear Björk’s version of the same song here the lyrics seem to have changed a bit:

Augun mín og augun þín,
ó þá fögru steina…

(My eyes and your eyes, those beautiful gems…)

It just feels more natural to Icelanders of today to speak of both eyes at the same time. 😀

What would happen with no language preservation attempts? We can look at warning examples not far away, just a bit over the sea to the west… I’m talking about you, West-Icelanders (= Canadians with Icelandic roots). Here’s one stanza of Winnipeg Icelander, a hilarious poem by Guttormur Guttormsson that pokes fun at what happened to Icelandic once it left its homeland:

…Að repeata aftur eg reyndi’ ekki at all,
En ran like a dog heim til Watkins.
En þar var þá Nickie með hot alcohol.
Já, hart er að beata Nick Ottins.
Hann startaði singing, sá söngur var queer
Og soundaði funny, I tell you.
Eg tendaði meira hans brandy og beer,-
You bet, Nick er liberal fellow

I’ve bolded the English influence. As you can see it takes over almost half of the language – although this poem being a joke the effect might be slightly exaggerated – and that whole sentences of English get wedged in, English words are used even if there’s already an Icelandic equivalent (such as beer / bjór) and English verbs get used in an Icelandic fashion. The effect is such that this poem is, alas, untranslatable and can only be understood if you speak both languages.


I find that if you stay long enough… by Ron Mader at Flickr.com.

So to answer my own question, yes, language preservation is important especially when it comes to small languages that have a creative habit of stealing everything they can. Protecting Icelandic language is actually not as much about shielding it from other languages as it is about keeping Icelandic itself in check and seeing it doesn’t run rampant along the coasts again, looting everything in its way. Occasionally this fails, which is why Icelanders f.ex. eat pizza instead of flatbaka (= flat bake, the real Icelandic word for pizza), but at least we can make it behave for the most of the time.

YouTube Preview Image

And now for something amusing for you all but especially the West-Icelanders reading this blog! I tried to read the poem out loud. I tried. I probably didn’t get it exactly the way it’s supposed to sound like because I have to admit I haven’t actually heard West-Icelanders speak the language, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had reciting a poem… do feel free to notify my pronunciation errors in the comments.