Tag Archives: intermediate

When women are men and men women. Posted by on Oct 8, 2015

Recently I found a question about feminine nouns in Icelandic: the person asking had found many masculine and neuter nouns that could apply to either gender, but no feminine ones that would have worked for non-females. Do they even exist? The short answer would be yes, they do exist and there’s plenty of them! The…

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Soon landing in Reykjavík! Posted by on Sep 17, 2015

The ravens have returned to the villages and towns. In Iceland ravens are a seasonal sight, living the spring and summer in the countryside but spending the dark, cold season among humans. During the summer seagulls take over but come autumn they make way for the true kings who return to take their thrones atop…

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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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From hand-leg to leg-throat. Posted by on May 7, 2015

Broadening your vocabulary is best started with themes, and I’m going to suggest body parts as a good first option! This is especially because you’ll find some dangers therein and some fairly interesting words as well, words that really make you wonder why and how do they even exist. Did the Icelanders of old just…

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