There are a lot of legends about fairies in Iceland. My pieces for Light Grey Art Lab’s current Wanderlust show, commemorating their residency program from last year, explores what some of these creatures might look like! The show is currently open at their Minneapolis gallery–check it out if you are in the area!
There seems to be this idea out there that the Icelandic language is an incredibly difficult language for English speakers to learn, so when I first started studying it I was a bit nervous. However, although I still haven’t been studying it for very long, I’ve yet to run across anything that’s scared me off, and quite a bit that actually makes it quite easy to pick up as a native English speaker. So to cast off some of the stigma, here are some things that make Icelandic easy to learn (or at least not as horrifying as I’d been led to believe):
Spelling is very consistent. Icelandic spelling is mostly phonetic, where each letter represents only one sound. While there are a few instances where letters aren’t pronounced exactly the same, the variations are regular so you can learn when they’re said differently instead of just having to guess, and over time they will become natural with practice. French is supposed to be relatively easy for English speakers to learn due to shared vocabulary, but Icelandic beats French hands down in this area.
Most of the sounds are similar to English. Many of the letters are pronounced basically just like English, and while it might look a little intimidating with all the extra vowels with accent marks and so on, most of those are sounds we actually have in English, they just represent them explicitly in Icelandic, which actually helps with the point about spelling above. Here is a great video that very clearly explains the Icelandic alphabet, and as you can see, out of the 14 vowels/diphthongs there are only 3 that aren’t in English. So sure, there are some sounds that aren’t in English, but that’s going to happen in almost any language, and Icelandic doesn’t seem to be any worse in this area than German, for example. In fact, if you know both German and English, you’re pretty much set when it comes to Icelandic phonemes.
The stress is always the same. In Icelandic words are always pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. In Spanish, for example, the stress changes based on which letters a word ends with and whether or not there are any accent marks, so you have to learn those rules and then memorize each exception so you know where to put the accent, and it can be a little tricky. In Icelandic there is only one rule that never changes, making it super simple.
There are only four cases. Okay, if you’ve never studied a language with cases before, having any at all can be a bit daunting coming from English since we don’t really use them much, but if you’re going to learn a language with cases only having four is pretty great! It’s the same number of cases as German has, and waaay better than Slavic languages that can have six or seven, and there are other languages which have even more.
There are only three new characters to learn. A lot of people seem to be intimidated by the special characters Ðð, Þþ, and Ææ, but if you compare those three
characters to languages like Greek, Russian, Arabic, or even Japanese – which has two separate syllabaries on top of thousands of kanji to learn – you can see how it’s nothing at all. Best of all, those characters represent sounds that already exist in English, so you can easily learn how to pronounce them. Ð is pronounced as the ‘th’ in ‘breathe’, Þ as the ‘th’ in ‘breath’, and æ as the ‘i’ in ‘hi’. In fact, if you want to say “Hi!” in Icelandic it’s exactly the same: “Hæ!” Similarly, “Bye!” is “Bæ!” You can see too how the spelling here is consistent in Icelandic, using only one character to represent the same sound, while in English we use ‘i’ in one word and ‘ye’ in the other, and in other words we might use even more spellings for the same sound, such as ‘ai’ or ‘y’, or even ‘igh’ (like in ‘sigh’). So even though you do have to learn a few new characters, it’s hardly any, and once you’ve learned them it actually makes Icelandic much easier to read and spell than it would be without them.
A lot of vocab comes from the same Germanic roots as English words. While English has borrowed a bunch of vocab from Latin languages, it still contains many words that come from its Germanic origins, which it shares with Icelandic. You’ve already seen hæ and bæ, and there’s also halló (hello), dóttir (daughter), móðir (mother), hér (here), frá (from), takk (thanks), heitt (hot), kalt (cold), hjálp (help), fiskur (fish), nót (net), undir (under), mús (mouse), and many more.
Basic grammar is very similar to English. Like I’ve said, I haven’t been studying long so I’m sure there’s more complicated stuff coming up, but in the basics I’ve run across so far the word order is so similar to English that you can pretty much take an English sentence and switch out the English words for their Icelandic versions and have a correct sentence. Some examples:
I am from Canada.
Ég er frá Kanada.
Are you from Iceland?
Ert þú frá Íslandi?
I am not from Spain.
Ég er ekki frá Spáni.
They come from Japan.
Þau koma frá Japan.
I don’t know about you, but the above doesn’t seem so difficult to me. Even if you haven’t learned the pronunciation yet, the grammatical structure is very familiar and many of the words look similar to their English counterparts.
Of course there are difficult things about Icelandic, but there are difficult things about every language. Icelandic is certainly not an impossible language to learn, and there are many things about it that are actually quite simple compared to other languages, or at the very least not any worse. If you’ve considered learning Icelandic, but were hesitant after hearing how terribly difficult it supposedly is, maybe this will show that it doesn’t have to be so scary after all.
Under Appreciated Lines in Hetalia: Paint It, White!
Iceland: “Oh skit… what the cripes!
France: "Everybody knows I’ve got the biggest-”
England: “-nobody asked you, cheesy monkey!”
England: “…You feel like a horse’s ass!”
China: “Suck ball! I knew fortune cookie this morning was full of bad luck!”
Poland: “Why are you look at me like that with the no eyes?”
Switzlerand: [Permanant Neutrality Border]
Japan: “No likey” (said like ‘rikey’)
Tony: “Because I don’t do dubs!”
Japan: “Germany! I’m sorry; I touched you. But if we fight sporadically we will only end up defeated”
Germany: “Must kill!”
Narrator: “Britain. A former pirate, but now a rather effeminate, yet gentlemanly empire with a plethora of rain. France is a longtime acquaintance he’s often found bickering with for bickering’s sake. However, in their heart of hearts, they love each other. Sexually”
America: “…When humans think the word hospitality, they all think about me because I know how to have a good time!”
Germany: There is no crying in alien warfare!
America: “I’m happy to see you, hands! We’re going to have so much fun!”
The mystical palagonite landscape of Hvanngil valley, in the Icelandic highlands north of Mýrdalsjökull glacier
JRR Tolkien was very inspired by Iceland. the landscape of Tolkien’s Middle-earth (except for the very-English Shire) is Icelandic. Tolkien’s trolls are Icelandic trolls. His hobbit holes are like Icelandic turf houses. Bilbo’s ride to Rivendell matches, more or less, a ride through the Icelandic landscape and Gandalf’s character comes from Icelandic tales of Odin.
🐷 and 🍁for Denmark? I thought it was interesting how you write den so differently from what feels like everyone else
uhh, I’m not sure who you meant but I’m gonna do it because it’s easy and my motivation levels are at an all-time low.
🐷 which muse is most likely to win a pie eating contest
Iceland because he eats almost everything and any type of food he can find
🍁 what inspired you to write/create (specify muse)
Well, his personality for me. I saw how everyone portrayed him as this jumpy, overly dominant, controlling, drunk and it annoyed me. There is so much more to him than that. Not to say he doesn’t drink, I mean which of the Nations haven’t before?
I grew to know these characters like the back of my hand and Denmark is such a fun character to write for being complex and just interesting in general. He’s really a lovely person
I understand this probably wasn’t for me, just send in another ask for Amanda if you want.
SWIFTOFRPH PRESENTS HER FOURTH MASTERLIST: CHARACTER PSD'S FOR SPECIFIC ROLEPLAYS
So since I always get the question; “Hey Taylor, Can you suggest some PSD’s for ______ Roleplay” I decided to combine all of my previous suggestions into one masterlist to help everyone. I feel like sometimes I repeat myself so I hope this helps all of you! Please LIKE or REBLOG if using or if you found this useful
Hi! I was wondering if any of you could point me in the direction of some good LGBT (preferrably 'L') written by an Icelandic writer, concerning Icelandic characters or even just set in Iceland? Anything really, I was just wondering if there was anything like that around. So far I haven't found much... thanks in advance!
I’m really sorry that this has been sitting in my drafts forever! I was able to find a couple, though:
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any resources for seeing which books are available in Icelandic! I would try all the most common wlw books, like Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, and Emma Donoghue. They’re the most likely to be translated.