The joys of learning past tense

When I was preparing for my exam in Icelandic 3, with a “Focus is on the spoken language use in the daily life” in evening at MSS I spent a lot of time practicing the past tense for strong verbs.

At this moment I was trying to memorize the vowel changes in the first group of strong verbs.

Strong verbs in the first group include words like:

bíða - wait;            bíta - bite;            drífa - drive;
gína - gape;            grípa - grasp;          hníga - fall gently;
hrífa - catch hold;     hrína - squeal;         hvína - whistle, whine;
klífa - climb;          klípa - pinch;          kvíða - dread;
líða - elapse;          líta - look;            ríða - ride;
rífa - tear;            rísa - rise;            síga - sink;
skína - shine;          skríða - creep;         slíta - break;
sníða - cut;            stíga - step;           svíða - singe, smart;
svífa - soar;           svíkja - deceive;       víkja - yield;
þrífa - grasp, snatch; clean.

Since the vowel changes are the same all you really need to learn if a few of the words and apply the same changes to the others.

So there I am sitting in the living room, chanting out words in Icelandic. These words:

Þrífa  – Þreif – ríða – reið – þrífa – þreif – ríða – reið

Then I look over and see an absolutely horrified look on my children’s faces. I asked them if they were OK and they asked me to never, never, say that again. I didn’t really get it. I am not so cleaver in that way. I asked why, but they would not answer me.

I asked my husband, who laughed. It is such a good feeling to know I provide so much amusement to the who family.

So I know þrífa means clean and ríða means ride – but not like a bicycle or a horse…

So now I know that I must never say that work again, at least not chanting my way through the different forms of the verb in each person.

A small fail

When I first moved to Iceland we lived in downtown Reykjavik making it convenient for me to attend the the Technical College to learn Icelandic. I can not find any information on the Icelandic classes there now, so maybe they don’t offer them anymore. This is probably for the best since I didn’t learn a lot of Icelandic there.

Anyways, I was 25 years old and back in high school to learn Icelandic. Being nearly 10 years older then everyone else in the school was bad enough but when combined with the cultural differences, this was basically a nightmare.

I couldn’t understand why everyone had yellow hair and very dark eyebrows. I was confused by how leggings were considered pants and I wondered what time these girls were waking up every morning to manage to have so much make up on before 8.

But I tried to fit in. So when everyone was standing outside between classes smoking cigarettes, I went with them (granted this was 11 years ago and these days they are probably all vaping).

One day there was a little wind, shocking I know, and when I went to light my cigarette the wind blew at the exact perfect moment that I ended up setting my hair on fire.

No joke.

I saw the fire in the corner of my eye, then I saw everyone pointing. it started to get a little hot and the smell was terrible. Luckily this only lasted a second until I felt someone slapping the side of my head to get the fire out. Turned out to be some nice guy from my class.

But the damage was done. Everyone saw my flaming hair and the smell just wouldn’t go away.

I tried to play it cool, pulled my hood up and tried to pretend nothing happened when we went back into class but the smell gave it away.

I sat at my desk and everyone around me started whispering. The smell was nearly suffocating me. I thought I would die.

I am sure your not surprised to hear I left class early that day and went home to try to fix what I could of my hair. I ended up needing a haircut since all the hair on one side was destroyed. Just my luck.

11 years later I ma still working on my fitting in skills, but at least I haven’t set my hair on fire recently. Things are starting to look up.


Var það eitthvað fleira?

When I first moved to Iceland I lived in a little apartement on Rauðarástig in Reykjavík. Across the street was a little shop that sold milk, candy and apparently ritalin which got them raided and shut down by the police a few years later, but this detail doesnt matter for this story.

My purchases from this store were all completly legal.  When ever I went to the counter the guy working as a casheir always asked: Eitthvað fleira?

He might have said the whole sentance “Var það eitthvað fleira?” and was mumbling the first half of the sentance, but who knows.

Being a new comer to Iceland I had some interest in learning the language so I asked, what “Eitthvað fleira” meant. He replied “Is that all?”.

This turned out to be my worst Icelandic lesson ever .

Years went by and everytime I went to the store and the casheir asked: “Eitthvað fleira?” I said “Já” or “Yes” and they stood there staring at me. Waiting for me to say something else.

Turned out “Var það eitthvað fleira?” actually means “Anything else?”. “Anything else” is not the same as “Is that all”.

So everytime I was in a store and the casheir asked: “Anything else?” I said “Yes” and they waited for me to add to my order or say something else.

This generally resulted in a staredown for a few secounds, then they would shake their head and finish the transaction.

Good times, good times.