Icelandic Language Blog

Where the wild Moomins are. Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

One thing you’ll notice quickly when you live in Iceland is that when the locals talk about something they’re much more prone to using a nickname than a real name. This is perhaps related to the way some names tend to be extremely common throughout the history: if you want to talk about Jón instead of Jón or Jón your chances are to either add his second name if he has one, or come up with a handy nickname that only this Jón has, but not Jón or Jón. For example, talking about Jón forseti (president Jón) easily defines that you’re either talking about a historical figure and a politician*, or perhaps a trawler. Therefore it was probably unavoidable that the shop that was originally called Suomi PRKL! Design ended up being called “Múmínbúðin” (The Moomin Store) instead.

Múmínbúðin – I mean PRKL – is a small, cute shop selling Finnish design on Laugarvegur 27 and it’s owned by two Finnish ladies, Maarit Kaipainen and Satu Rämö. You won’t be able to miss it, not with the way they painted it! Iceland does not regulate the outer appearances of houses and therefore most store owners really work to make their place look the way they want it to, no matter how wild their dreams may be.

The wares range from Jopo Bikes to jewellery to postcards to hair products and slippers, but of course it’s the Múmínalfar, moomintrolls, that grab everyone’s attention. They so often do. They and the other inhabitants of Múmíndal, Moominvalley, can be found printed on key chains, coasters, posters etc. and also as plush toys and cups. Interestingly moomintrolls aren’t called trolls at all in Icelandic, but elves.

So let’s take a quick look at what these trolls are called in Icelandic! From up to down and left to right: Tikkatú (Too-Ticky), Múmínmamma (Moominmamma) and Hattífattarnir (Hattifatteners).  Snorkstelpan (Snork Maiden), Snorkstelpan and Múmínsnáðinn (Moomintroll), Múmínsnáðinn, the scene is possibly from the story Halastjarnan (Comet in Moominland). Þöngull og Þrasi (Thingumy and Bob), Fílifjónka (Fillyjonk) and Múmínsnáðinn again in a scene that’s likely from the comic version of Vetrarundur í Múmíndal (Moominland Midwinter).

The stripy mug features Mía Litla (Little My) and below her is Morrinn (The Groke). However, for the next lady’s name I would greatly appreciate all the help I can get. She married the Muddler in The Exploits of Moominpappa and gave birth to Snabbi (Sniff). Alas, I don’t know her name neither in Icelandic nor in English, but in Swedish she’s called Sås-djuret.

Next is Snúður (Snufkin), Snabbi, and below him is his father Muddler, another character whose Icelandic name escaped me. The next one is the Primadonna’s horse, but she seemed to only feature in the comics so I’m not all that certain whether she has an Icelandic name at all. Snorkstelpan again and then a Mímla (one of the Mymbles that are shown in the stories). This one’s Snufkin’s mother and – a curious fact – Little My is his older half-sister! Last ones include the Police (again, Icelandic name unknown), Múmínpabbi (Moominpappa) and Hemúllinn (The Hemulen).

Of course the shop includes much, much more than just the Moomins, like mentioned. The Jopo bikes are a particular favourite of mine and they’re also available for rent! The stripy rugs make me very nostalgic since for some reason they’re not that common in Iceland, although back home they’re a regular feature of nearly every home and summer cottage. They’re made out of old clothes that are worn so well that wearing them any more is out of the question, a wonderful form of recycling which makes them both colourful and cozy. 

Starting a business in Iceland is not easy, nor easily affordable, yet there are several foreigners that have decided to face the bureaucracy and the ridiculously expensive starting fees. Walking downtown Reykjavík you’ll probably meet quite many of them: cafe, vintage clothing and design store owners who will be more than happy to share their experiences at being an entrepreneur in Iceland. It’s a lot of work, they’ll say. It’s frustrating. Yet it’s worth it, although I haven’t yet heard exactly why this is, just that it is.

See you in Múmínbúðin!


*Note, though, that Jón forseti Sigurðsson was actually never a president.

One half of the proud owners holding a ball of shredded fabric; it will eventually become one of those rugs behind her.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!