Icelandic Language Blog

I read the news today Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in Icelandic culture

news019Oh boy. Despite the small size of Iceland there’s always something going on here, be it a lost tourist, strange accidents with lots of luck included, the mayor dressing up as a jedi and so forth. I collected some highlights from the most recent news here for you so without further ado let’s see what Iceland has been up to…

Royal visit

The queen of Denmark, Margrét Danadróttning (Margrete II of Denmark) has confirmed she will be visiting Iceland 12.-14. November, on the 350th birthday of the collection of Árni Magnusson, a book collector who specialized in Medieval literature (link). Unlike most collectors of his time Árni collected every tiniest piece of manuscript he could find, sometimes just a few pages, no matter how poor condition they were in. Half of his collection is now located here in Iceland, the other half in Copenhagen, Denmark. I will naturally be following with the festivities and reporting here!

Road warnings

This may sound like it belonged in the weather section but it’s actually among the most important news at the moment. Iceland is dangerous to drive in when the roads are iced over, and if you think you know how it’s like to drive on slippery roads, think again. By all likelihood you have not tried to drive on a surface that’s like a giant wet, oiled bar of soap, which is what driving in most parts of Iceland is like for about half a year every year. Change to winter tires, this may be your last chance. Most parts of the land have now iced over and even if the ice melts during the days it will return the following night.

Breiðdalsheiði and Öxi are currently in impassable condition for driving. Always remember to check Vegagerðin (link) before heading out to see if the route you’re planning to take needs re-planning.


The cities may look deceivingly easy to drive, but this is the reality just a half an hour’s drive away.

“One more spin and someone would have died”

As a stern reminder of how accidents can happen when the roads are slippery comes this piece of news: a group of friends drove off the road because of a patch of ice, fell into a river and somehow survived alive – by mere luck.

“We were traveling for fun and the roads were empty. Suddenly when we took a turn beside a small mountain we drove onto ice. It was a big fall,” says Gunnar, one of the travelers of the car, and estimates it to be 30-50 metres. “I remember seeing the river and thinking as the car began to spin: ‘Just not into the river, and don’t land upside-down'”. As if an answer to him the car indeed fell on its tires and into a shallow part of the river where the current was not too strong. The travelers all survived alive, in good health and only suffering a shock and cold, wet feet, because this particular river starts at a glacier and is therefore ice cold. “Just one more metre and the car would have rolled to its side”, remarked Gunnar at the end of the interview. “Then we would not all have survived alive.”

Madness in Stykkisholmur

For some reason the previous weekend has been very confusing in the small town called Stykkisholmur. Among the many tasks the police had were f.ex. a group of drunkards who had stolen a sheep and were walking it across the town,  a mechanic who was having a party which ended up with one bartender being rushed to hospital, and a fight that broke out in a hotel. The sole remaining policeman of Stykkisholmur had to call in help from Ólafsvík before he could attempt to go over to the hotel to break it up.

news025BBC calling

A short while ago the musician Ásgeir was interviewed for a Radio 2 show by Dermot O´Leary, who had heard a rumour that 10% of all Icelanders own Ásgeir’s CD Dyrð í dauðaþögn (= glory in dead silence/complete silence). To test this theory he had brought a 2009’s phone book he had received from the embassy of Iceland, opened it at random and chose the first name that he saw, that of Margrét María Sigurðardóttir’s… who just happens to be a fan of Ásgeir. Naturally she owns the CD!



Hulda recommends:

Fashion tip for Icelandic November weather

Wear a large sweater. Even better, wear two. Or three. Whatever you do remember that outside you’ll be battling severe weather conditions but once you’re indoors you never know what you’ll get: in some places you might as well be wearing a T-shirt, some are barely warmer than being outside. Layers of wool keep you warm when it’s most needed and they’re easy to shed according to the temperature indoors.

Language learning hack of the week

It’s very easy to make loan words from English into Icelandic. You just have to transliterate the word, that’s all! The usage of the loan words is equally easy, Icelanders will almost definitely understand them and they’re also automatically of the neuter gender. So if in a tight spot where just that one particular word decides to disappear from your memory, throw in a loan word instead. It’s only mildly cheating. 😀

There are few exceptions to the neuter gender rule but they do exist: words that have been in Icelandic language for centuries, such as kanill (= cinnamon, M) or kristall (= crystal, M) may have a different gender.

One of the funniest insurance advertisements I have ever seen

– can be found here. The text in the beginning says “this advertisement is based on real accidents” which is really all you need to know before watching it… 😀


Here are some more news that I’ve seen in the media within one week’s time. Some of them are even available in English:

Jón Gnarr will not seek re-election (link)
Ódýrara að leggja flugvél en einkabíl í miðborginni (= Cheaper to park an aeroplane than a car downtown; this piece of news is a bit older, from the beginning of October, but I saw it for the first time just a few days ago.)(link)
Íslenskt frímerki til sölu á eBay á 800 þúsund (= Icelandic stamp for sale on eBay for 800 000kr)(link)
About 70% Support Entrance Fees For Natural Sites (link)
Weather (link)

news024Here’s a fun little test-your-Icelandic-skills: what does the chicken ask the other?


Sources of the news:

Konungleg heimsókn (= the royal visit) (link).
Vetrarfærð í flestum landshlutum og varað við hálku (= winter road conditions in most parts of the land and a frost warning) (link).
Ein velta í viðbót og einhver hefði dáið (= one more spin and someone would have died) (link).
Rollu rænt og hestur sprakk (= kidnapped sheep and exploded horse) (link).
Aðdáandi Ásgeirs fékk símtal frá BBC (Ásgeir’s fan got a phone call from the BBC) (link). Includes the actual phone conversation!

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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!