A couple of weeks ago I was looking for material for the I heart Reykjavík Facebook page and decided that I wanted to teach the community there some Icelandic phrases. Naturally, I didn’t want to limit myself to “hi” and “how do you do” so I put my thinking cap on and came up with the following phrases:
#1 Eina með öllu – One hot do with everything, please.
If you know Icelandic you will notice that although I used please in the English version, its Icelandic counterpart is missing. That is because we don’t really have a good Icelandic word for please and we don’t use it when we order things.
#2 Stóran Bjór Takk – A Pint of Lager please (one big beer for you Americans)
Although Takk is not used correctly in this phrase I’ve noticed that bartenders are the crankiest people around at night because they have to deal with the most annoying people in town. They always appreciate it when you go out of your way to be polite or kind so adding an extra Takk to the end (which means thanks) might get you a smile with that beer.
#3 Nei, þú mátt ekki flétta á mér skeggið! – No, you cannot braid my beard!
Icelandic men are hairy and they like their beards. The boyfriend has a great big beard and one of the things I notice a lot when we are out is that men give him an appreciative nod, especially other bearded men, and women ask if they can braid it. I don’t recommend that question.
#4 Veistu um bílalúgu þar sem ég get keypt svið? – Do you know of a drive-through where I can buy a take-away sheep’s head?
As a matter of fact – I do! You can get your sheep’s head fix at the BSÍ bus terminal where there’s a 24 hour drive-through. Yum!
#5 Ég get þvegið mér sjálfur herra sundlaugarvörður! – I can wash myself mister pool guard!
In Iceland you need to bathe naked before you dip into one of our amazing geothermal pools and we even have infamous signs that tell you exactly where you have to wash. If you don’t, the pool guards might tell you off in which case this phrase might come in handy.
#6 Má bjóða þér í Skyrglímu? – Would you like to wrestle in Skyr?
Skyr is not quite a yogurt but still often confused with a yogurt – actually I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s uniquely Icelandic though and loved a lot by visitors and locals alike. Skyrglíma might be the Icelandic version of mud wrestling (it’s a thing – really)
#7 Get ég fengið meiri bearnaise? Could I have more Bearnaise sauce?
These phrases caused two things:
1) I got into a heated debate with some Icelanders whether I was correct in saying that Icelanders generally don’t use takk when they order (we took this debate to a higher power, the Icelandic Language Institute, that confirmed that i’s not an Icelandic custom to use words like please).
2) My Facebook followers are a demanding bunch and thought it was ridiculous that I was posting these phrases without any pronunciation aid. Which resulted in this audio recording. I hope you enjoy.
If you want to be in the loop and participate in things as they happen I recommend you like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. At the moment this is written the Facebook is much more active than Twitter but it varies a lot between periods.