15 Sunday Dec 2013
Written by Mark in Icelandic
After 15 months, I finally made it back to Iceland…everything seems to be just as I left it 🙂 Good the see Tjörnin is still there in the same place, and there’s still plenty of cats running around 🙂 I’m mostly over my jet-lag I think; I’ve never been able to come up with a good way to deal with the 8 hour time difference combined with the flight arriving at 7am local time. So I just gave up and let it run its course, managed to get out and walk around after we got settled, of course walked right into a nice snowfall – welcome back!
Just doing some quick shopping reminded me that there’s some good introductory Icelandic to be found in the experience. No matter where you buy something, there’s a good chance of of encountering the query that it the title of this post – Viltu poka? – Do you want a bag? This is pretty much in every beginning Icelandic book I know of. I’ll use my jet-lag and lack of sleep as an excuse, but I totally whiffed on this test at the Bónus that first day 🙂
I did a little better the next day at Eymundsson, but the girl threw me a curve. I was all ready to be asked about the bag, but instead she asked if I wanted a skiptimiði. Now I was confused, since I only knew that word as it relates to a transfer on the bus. I repeated the word, most likely with a strange look on my face, which clued her in to my poor Icelandic skills 🙂 After asking me in English if the books were a gift, I realized the word must also be used for the receipt stores give so that someone could return the item to exchange it for something else. Makes sense now as it is the holiday season. She was very nice about it though 🙂 And once you’ve paid your 20 krónur for that Eymundsson bag, you get another beginner-level sentence written right on it – Hvað ert þú að lesa? – What are you reading?
Just these few encounters reminded me of the frustrating nature of learning languages, and how inconsistent I am with the various skills. Since I don’t live here, I don’t get many chances to speak Icelandic, particularly in these everyday social situations. So while my reading abilities are fairly good – can read most anything and at the very least get the gist of it, maybe understand 80% of it – I can barely talk my way out of a book store 🙂 This is also one of the goals of this trip, to get over my apprehension about speaking. Já, ég er enn frekar feiminn að tala íslensku. 🙂
While being all zombied out that first evening, I come across a game show I hadn’t seen before on RÚV. It’s called Vertu Viss – Be Sure. The link is to the web site where you can play online, but you can also watch some past episodes on the RÚV website. It’s fun to watch, but if you are learning Icelandic you get the added benefit of seeing the text of the question and hearing it read by the host, so you get reading and listening practice 🙂 Check it out!