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.

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.