Eg tala ekki islensku

Borgarfjordur Eysti.

If you think of Iceland as a clock-face, we started in Reykjavik at about 8 o’clock and travelled clockwise. We’ve gone over 1600km so far and are now at about 4 o’clock. The South-Eastern coast is a contrast to further North. It’s much calmer, with flat seas and rocky inlets. Even the birds seem quieter than their Northern cousins.

We’re beginning to run out of words to describe all the beautiful places we’ve seen. And so far we’ve failed to add much in the way of Icelandic to our vocabulary. Icelandic is a strange combination of the incomprehensible and the almost familiar.

The incomprehensible part comes from the fact that Icelandic has several letters that don’t appear in English. It also lacks the letter ‘z’ which was abolished in 1974. I do love the fact that they got together and decided to get rid of a letter which was not doing much good.

The familiarity comes from a couple of places. Quite a few words are similar to English or German words, at least if you say them phonetically; although they’re not always used in quite the same way. ‘Hello’ is ‘Hallo’; ‘Good night’ is ‘Goda nott’. My favourite word in Icelandic is ‘goodbye’ which is simply ‘bless’. A lot of other words are similar to old English or to Scottish English: ‘Child’ is ‘barna’, ‘head’ is ‘heid’.

So if you take a stab at saying something you can sometimes work it out. Othertimes you take a stab and end up with your tongue tied in an awkward knot.

All of this, of course, is rather academic since everyone in Iceland speaks English.

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