Every language has words the meanings of which seem incredibly specific in any context outside of that language. That is, some characteristic of the people who speak the language or the place(s) in which it is spoken has rendered this word necessary, whereas it might not be quite as useful in other cultural or geographic contexts. In Iceland, many such words are tied to the weather. For anyone who has ever lived in Iceland or even visited for a few days, this will come as no surprise. The weather here is volatile, and it is often big. It is experienced with multiple senses – you see it, you hear it, you definitely feel it – especially when the weather in question involves strong winds, which it pretty much always does.
One of my favorite Icelandic verbs is að fjúka, which means essentially “to be blown by the wind.” As an added bónus, if something has been blown away by the wind, you would say “það hefur verið fokið” (“fokið” being the past participle), which of course bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain less polite English word. So as a native English speaker, it always appeals to my less mature sense of humor when I come across this word in its many incarnations.
This week, thanks to our first bout of stormy autumn weather, the word has been cropping up all over the place, sort of like the tree branches and leaves that have been blown all over the city.
A sampling of flying trampoline news:
“Now Jónas has a trampoline”
In this delightful little snippet from Víkurfréttir, one photo and a snappy headline speak louder than a long string of words ever could.
The article reads,
Sometimes warnings go in one ear and out the other. Yesterday, trampoline owners were specifically requested to safely secure these summer playthings.
Someone in Sandgerður chose to ignore this warning, so his trampoline took to the air.
Kristinn Ingi Hjaltalín shared this photo from Sandgerður on Facebook this morning, noting in the caption, “Now Jónas has a trampoline.”
“Twenty-two trampolines on the move: Severe weather this evening and overnight”
This article, from pressan.is, notes that no fewer than twenty-two trampolines were reportedly found blown into trees, onto cars, around light poles, etc. in the greater capital area.
Bónus fact: The séríslenskt orð (uniquely Icelandic word) for trampoline is “fjaðradýna” or “fjaðurdýna,” which literally means something like “elastic/springy mattress.” I know I’ve already overused the adjective “delightful,” but how else can I describe these wonderfully literal Icelandic words? They are truly delightful.
Besides the flying trampolines, probably the biggest news in these parts is the Icelandic men’s football (that’s soccer to you, my American friends) team’s qualifying for the 2016 UEFA European Championship, to be held in France next year. This is the first time ever that the Icelandic men’s football team has made it to an international championship. (Iceland is also apparently the smallest nation ever to make it into a national tournament.) Anyway, football is hugely popular here, and things that earn Iceland international recognition are hugely popular here, and partying is hugely popular here. Put all these things together and you can imagine what the scene was like downtown after Iceland’s win against Kazakhstan (the game was actually a draw, but for some reason I don’t understand and don’t actually care to understand, a tie meant that Iceland advanced and Kazakhstan did not).
But should you have trouble imagining the scene, don’t fear – Some industrious journalist at Vísir took it upon himself to painstakingly detail the entire evening’s timeline:
National football team downtown: Where did the boys celebrate?
The timeline begins with the end of the game at 20.45, at which point the team of course celebrated heartily on the field, before devoting a good amount of time to interviews and the like. The article then (unnecessarily, if you ask me) points out that the boys showered and got all dolled up (well, okay, I’m embellishing on the translation here) for the celebration.
At 21.55, the team appeared at Ingólfstorg, a square downtown where the game had been live streamed on a big screen thanks to mobile phone company Nova.
At 22.20, the team hopped on a bus which took them to Gamla Bíó, where the celebration continued.
Around midnight, most of the team headed to b5, where they were greeted by a whole host of supporters, including a few famous names (UFC fighter Gunnar Nelson… actually, that’s the only “famous” person on this list that I’ve ever heard of).
Apparently there was a lot of singing at b5, and the song “N*ggas in Paris” by Kanye West and Jay-Z was in heavy rotation. The article describes this song as “appropriate” for the occasion, since the team is heading to France next year. I think we have different definitions of “appropriate,” Mr. Journalist.
At 02.00, the friendly local police force appeared to kick people out of b5, since by law, clubs/bars have to close at 1 AM Sunday through Thursday. The journalist points out that it was pretty difficult for the police to get everyone to leave (although I have heard only reports of extreme glee and drunkenness, not violence) and states that people there were somehow likening the situation to the battle between American hip-hop group N.W.A. and the cops. Seriously? I can only imagine that a vast amount of alcohol went into this comparison.
On a more serious but equally ridiculous note: The way this achievement has been reported in the news, both here in Iceland and abroad, you could easily assume that this is the first time any Icelandic national football team has made it to an international championship. But in fact, the Icelandic national women’s football team has made it to the European championship not once, not twice, but three times (1995, 2009, 2013). That whole idea, so popular in clickbait articles and blogs, that Iceland is an oasis of perfect gender equality? Not true. Iceland might be doing a lot of things right on this front, but gender inequality is pervasive, not least in sports. So if you’ve been excited about the men’s football team, by all means, be excited. But don’t forget the women’s team. Don’t diminish their accomplishments.
Parliament members walk past a naked Jón Sigurðsson
To Americanize this headline, we could say something like, “Congressmen walk past naked George Washington.”
Jón Sigurðsson was the foremost hero of the 19th-century independence movement that resulted in Iceland finally shrugging off the Danish crown. A statue of him stands in Austurvöllur, the square right in front of the parliament building. A few days ago, there also happened to be a giant poster advertising the film “Fyrir framan annað fólk” on the side of the building behind the statue (and therefore also across from parliament). Why the promo poster involves a photo of naked Jón Sigurðsson remains a mystery to me, despite a good amount of googling. If anyone knows, please, by all means, educate me.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure this article came into existence simply because some photographer or journalist happened to be near the Alþingi and took note of this admittedly amusing sight. It might not be big news, but since I’ve decided to blog about just this sort of “news,” I’m certainly not complaining.
And that concludes the second edition of “things that make the news in Iceland.” Let’s give it a few days for more non-news to break, and then I will return with more.