I’m making a half-hearted attempt to learn Icelandic.I haven’t thrown myself into it fully because although I think it would be fun to know some Icelandic, I have no real useful reason or need to do so. It’s a language that less than 1% of the world’s population speaks and I have no one at all to speak it with here. So, I’m just trying to learn some basics.
My humble goals are:
- Have a wider reading/listening vocabulary so I can understand more of what people say on the radio, in song lyrics, and on TV/films. I love listening to RAS 2 on my internet radio. Confession time: I didn’t realise that all those times they say something that sounds like “rawstvuh” they were saying the name of the radio station! See how far I’ve come already?
- Be able to speak a little bit so that I look like I’ve made an effort when I go visit.
Why is it that when you learn a new language you turn into a child again? Maybe it’s because of the silly phrases that are always the first you learn. So far I can say:
- Hello and goodbye in many different ways.
- I can welcome other people to Iceland. (Maybe I’ll just hang around the airport doing that?)
- I can ask what languages someone speaks and where they’re from.
- Family words. Imagine askng a stranger their grandmother’s name and how many cousins they have…
- There have been some useful things too like “Excuse me, do you speak English?” and ” That’s impressive! You speak Icelandic very well.” (Can’t wait for someone to say that to me – I may be waiting a while! :))
So in case any of you Icelanders are looking to write your own language book, here are some things that this foreigner would find more useful to say:
- “Do you have a sale section?” (to anyone working in a shop)
- “One more hot dog, please. Still no onions.” (to anyone selling hot dogs)
- “Yes, I am going to try on ALL the lopapeysas in this shop.” (to anyone working in the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop)
- “Wow, I’ve never heard wind make that howling noise before. Can we get back on the bus now?” (to Northern Lights tour guide – as heard in several different ways on my last trip)
- “Why, yes, I WOULD like a job promoting Iceland to the great British public.”(well, you never know)
- “Have you read my blog yet?” (to everyone)
Are you currently trying to learn a foreign language as an adult? How much can you learn about a culture by its language?