Icelandic Language Blog

Everyday Icelandic Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

The most difficult thing to find when you don’t live in Iceland is the Icelandic for things that you would never talk to someone else about. You might be able to get some of this from reading a lot of varied books, but unless you have a friend in Iceland willing to take photos or record conversations for you then some things will probably remain a mystery unless you end up moving to Iceland. I remember when I was sitting in a coffee shop in the US and a French man came in. When the cashier asked if he “wanted room” in his coffee he had no idea what she was talking about and she couldn’t think of how to explain it in a way he understood either. The idea of being in that sort of situation haunts me – and I don’t think the average Icelandic learner wants to be in that situation either, so here are some photos with vocabulary that might one day help you a little.

An elevator.

A pay phone (located in the Nordic House in the coat-rack area next to the bathrooms).

A University of Iceland print-out telling you that you have too few print credits (“print quota”) available and that you need to add more credit. Notice that they say “outprints” instead of “print-outs”.

A crane-game machine at BSÍ, the long-distance bus station in Reykjavík. It’s saying that you can also pay via phone if you send a text to this number, then you get two tries.

Notice of a street being closed due to construction. Orange signs in the capital basically mean construction or road closures.

Washing machine instructions.

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About the Author: sequoia

I try to write about two-thirds of the blog topics on cultural aspects and one-third on the language, because there's much more out there already on the language compared to daily life information. I try to stay away from touristy things because there's more of that out there than anything else on Iceland, and I feel like talking about that stuff gives you the wrong impression of Iceland.


  1. leonhard:

    And what does it mean to want “room” in the coffee? 🙂

    • sequoia:

      @leonhard It means to give you a little less coffee so it leaves enough “room” (space) in the cup so you can add your own sugar/cream/chocolate to your drink afterwards, typically at a little “toppings stand” (it has straws, lids, napkins, etc.) in the coffeeshop. : D

      I see your linked blog for Icelandic! I’ll bookmark and start following it. I had a few similar blogs I made for Icelandic but I only posted vocabulary I was learning, and I also have a few translation blogs for Icelandic to English, but they’re all a bit specialized and I don’t update them often. Most of my translations I don’t post on them because they’re just things like photo translations and they aren’t so useful to people.