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Tag Archives: advanced

Reciting Icelandic poetry. Posted by on Aug 27, 2015

If I had to describe Icelandic as a language, one word would come to mind immediately: poetic. For most of their existence Icelanders have always valued poets highly, so highly in fact that an important person was practically assumed to be a skilled poet and even the poorest farmer could (and often would) show off…

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Icelandic kennings. Posted by on Jul 16, 2015

What is “a wave’s horse”? If someone’s talking of “Ymir’s skull”, what are they talking about? What or who is being called Hringaná in the old song Hættu að gráta Hringaná? And who is “the possessor of the fallen slain and the owner of Sessrúmnir”? Kennings, or circumlocutions, form a large part of traditional Icelandic…

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When Icelanders fail Icelandic. Posted by on Jul 2, 2015

I’ve often addressed the various problems a language learner might come across when learning the language, but sometimes it seems that Icelandic is not easy for the natives either. Despite all the efforts at preserving the language it just tries to change itself anyway, resulting in f.ex. þágufallssýki – the dative illness – where people will attempt…

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Icelandic – unchangeable? Posted by on Jun 11, 2015

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…

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Vatnsenda-Rósa: a legendary poet. Posted by on Apr 9, 2015

The most famous love poem of Iceland is written by a woman. Though little is actually known of her the amount of legends that circle around Rósa Guðmundsdóttir, also known as Skáld-Rósa (= Rósa the poet) or Vatnsenda-Rósa (= Rósa of Vatnsendi), would suggest she was a striking and noteworthy person in her time just the same…

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Fyrir, or four uses for ‘for’. Posted by on Apr 2, 2015

I’ve recently received two comments regarding the use of the preposition fyrir and since the topic needs quite a bit of elaborating I decided to write a whole blog entry for it. Fyrir is one of those sneaky words that look deceptively easy to use. It’s like the English “for”, right? Yes – and no – and then…

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Non-binary pronouns in Icelandic. Posted by on Feb 26, 2015

Icelandic grammar offers a gender neutral option for personal pronouns. Does that therefore mean that referring to non-binary people is easy and straight-forward? Alas, no. Icelandic gender structure is very strict and merciless and the local non-binary folk have had to give this matter a great deal of thought. When the whole world of Icelandic…

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