Loneliest Icelander: Jóni Þór Baldvinssyni

Previously I thought the loneliest Icelander– the single soldier committed by Iceland was actually journalist. Looks like there a real soldier joining the Americans. Either Iceland isn’t taking this war seriously, or one mean Viking…is enough.

“Í næsta Kompásþætti kynnumst við Jóni Þór Baldvinssyni liðþjálfa sem er bráðaliði í bandaríska hernum og eini íslenski hermaðurinn í Írak. Jón Þór er með íslenskan og bandarískan ríkisborgararétt og berst, að eigin sögn, ekki aðens fyrir Bandaríkjamenn heldur alla Íslendinga. Amma og afi Jóns Þórs hafa enga tiltrú á þessum stríðsrekstri Bandaríkjamanna í Írak og óttast um drenginn sinn. Strákurinn sem ólst upp í Fellahverfinu sýndi þó snemma mikinn áhuga á hermennsku svo að núverandi starf kemur þeim ekki ýkja mikið á óvart”

Let’s see if I can translate this…

“In the near future it will be publicized in the Compass TV show that Sergeant Jon Thor Balwinson, who is a soldier in the American army and the only Icelandic Soldier in Iraq. Jon Thor is with Icelandic and American citizenship and reported, to one story, not … rather for American all of Iceland. Grandmother and grandfather of Jon Thors has nothing trust …American war-campaign in Iraq and is afraid for this fellow. This lad was raised in Fellahverfi showed yet early great enthusiasm to soldiering so to present job not particularly very surprising.”

Thanks to Wisconsin Digital Collections.

Hvar er járnbrautarstöðin?

I forgot I already blogged about this very useful phrase.

Swedish Meetup. Anyhow, this week I managed to pull off the most successful Swedish meetup so far, except maybe the first. So far I’m mostly engrossed with administrativia, not focusing enough on getting to conversational proficiency.  Should there be lots of events with some being canceled? A few events?  A few big events with lots of people?  The same weekly event over and over, like the Russian conversation event I go to? Or a new place and time each time?  Should I stick to the accidental charter and try to invite everyone who speaks a Scandinavian language or should I organize separate events for each language?

Language Studies. That said, I finally got a usable “Teach Your Self Swedish” The old one (originally published in the 30′s I think) was useless except maybe as an encyclopedia of grammatical points.  And I got my Swedish-English dictionary.  And I got the vocabulary drill software.  And all I’ve been doing is Icelandic vocabulary drills.  Sigh.
Work. Work is Kafkaesque. On the brighter side, I can now read Kafka and say to myself that I’m studying for my job.

Calendar Website. My vegetarian calendar’s website’s traffic has fallen to ZERO.

Iceland: Progressive reasons to go

Ok, we’ve all heard about the non-progressive things Icelanders have done, like eating whales, cutting down all the trees (well, a few hundred years ago), the breaking up the Sugarcubes. These have been suggested as a progressive reasons to boycott Iceland. On those grounds, probably all countries should be boycotted including one’s own country, as we all have skeletons in the closet.

Alternative Energy
Hydropower– it’s mostly green! Hydropower has an impact on the environment, but it’s unlikely to turn the planet into a Venus hot house or Martian desert like setting all the fossil fuels on fire might.
Hydrogen– one of the few hydrogen refueling stations in the world!

Scandinavian Progressiveness
Free health & education! (Ok, not free, but paid for by 50% taxes on income)

(more as I think of them)

Icelandic: Is it safe to study Icelandic and Swedish at the same time?

Well, just because no one has any evidence that it is a cause of spontaneous human combustion, does it mean it isn’t. 

The top 50 words in Swedish and Icelandic.
(n/a) = it doesn’t have a nice equivalent, say the way “apple” does, probably because it is a grammatical particle.

Isn’t great that the 100 most common words in a language happen to also be the hardest to grok? (being that they all involve understanding something about the grammar?)

Icelandic,   Swedish,   English, Grammatical purpose
og, och, “and”, co-ordinating conjunction
í, i, “in, on”, preposition
að, att, “that, to”, subordinating conjunction, infinitive marker
einn, en,”a, one”,
sem (?),som, “like, as, that, which, who”
það (?), det, “the, that, it, there”
er, är, “is, are”
af, av, “of, from, by”
það (?), den, “it, the, that”
á, på, “on”
“alltof, of”(?), för, “too, because, (in order) to”
“með, við, hjá”,  med, with
“þau, þeir” (?),de, “they, the, those”
til, till, “to”
“eiga”, har, “has, have”
ekki, inte, “not”, adverb
einn (?), ett, “a, one”, indefinate article, neuter, singular
um, om, “if, in, around”, conjuction, subordinating conjunction, preposition
??, man, “you, one”, impersonal pronoun
hann, han, “he”
“en, nema”, men, “but”, co-ordinating conjuction
??, sig, self.  Reflexive pronoun
fær (?), kan, “can, be able to”, modal verb
svo, så, “so, such, then”
??, var, “was”, past tense auxiliary verb
hvar, var, “where”, interrogative pronoun
frá, från, “from” preposition
“ella, eða”, eller, “or”, coordinating conjunction
??, sin, “his, her, its”, possessive reflexive adjective
“einnig, líka”, också, “too, also” adverb
vér, vi, “we”
ég, jag, “I”, first person singular
við, vid, “by, at” preposition
undir, under, “during, under”,
“þangað, þar, þarna”, där, “there”, adv, conjuction, sub. conjunction
“þessi”, detta, “this”

skulle, “would, should”, model verb
nu, now
än, “than, still, whatever” adv. conjunction.
när, “when”, interogative pronoun, conjuction, subordinating conjunction
mycket, “much, many, very”
ska, “will, shall” modal verb
vara, “to be”
år, “year” noun
mot, “against, towards”
över, “over, across”
hade, “had”, auxillary verb
hans, his, possessive pronoun
andra, “other, second” adjective
denna, “this”, demonstrative pronoun, common gender
då, “when, then, now”

(there are 100, in the list I’m working, just decided to publish now and review it later.)

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Icelandic: Subliminal shopping

Learn Icelandic subliminally!  Unfortunately, after completion of the course, you will only be able to speak Icelandic subliminally, in you sleep, when you have a fever.

Also, we can buy Icelandic Kelp pills.  Yum.  Good source of iodine, I think.  Maybe helpful in inducing delerium for speaking the Icleandic you learned subliminally.

If you can’t keep punks from spray painting walls, make the best of it and sell a book of Icelandic graffiti.

Icelandic salt for the bathtub.  Blue salt, blue from the copper in it.

Not quirky, but utterly pragmatic, 66 North, Icelandic outdoors wear.

Wrap yourself in a blue flag with racing stripes.  Not nearly as warm as 66 North wear.

Map of Iceland.  Not to scale, not recommended for driving.

No Such Thing.  Movie that takes place in Iceland.  Includes a cool monster and the hot Margrét Ákadóttir.

A Icelandic Mystery, Last Rituals.  In English for chumps to lazy to learn Icelandic.

Swedish Language Meetup

I organized a Scandinavian Langauge Meetup, which turned out to be a Swedish Language meetup.  Seven people, three fluent, three learners, and me, who didn’t understand anyone, but I did fulfil my role as the person to encourage everyone to speak Swedish instead of English. 

Sadly no Icelanders.  I’m the loneliest Icelander wannabe. (follow that link! it links to the real loneliest Icelander.)  No Norwegians either.  I’ll have to keep marketing.  So I crammed Icelandic for the last few days to no avail.  However I do know what “hammingusamur” means.

Murky coffee has been overrun by the laptop campers.  The upstairs was like being at the library.

Meetup tried to pull a fast one one me– as as soon as I submitted my rating for the group, they asked if I wanted to switch from $9 with the risk of a price raise any month to $12 with the risk of a price raise after a year.  I am happy to stick with month to month at $9 because everyone knows I’ll advertise this group elsewhere if they think they can charge me $19!

News: It’s Monday

A slow day at the office–it was a semi-holiday and lots of people were out.  I somehow kept busy, busy meaning not doing nothing.

Funny: my Icelandic flash cards have a phrase– Where is the train station– Hvar er járnbrautarstöðin?  But there have only been two trains in Iceland, the first is shut down, the second was for moving workers and materials to construction site and the third is in planning but not build!  Obviously, this is for tourists visiting the vester-islensku who live in Canada.

Icelandic: "Before You Know It" Review

This is a 30 minute review. I got myself the Icelandic Before You Know It software and Ipod.  It is very vocabulary centric.  This is actually something that a computer is good at doing. Teachers and workbook writers apparently get bored with writing drill material, so we don’t encounter a lot of opportunities for getting vocabulary drill experience.

From my own experience learning Russian, I wasn’t conversationally competent until I outgrew my 8,000 word dictionary.  I figure that means to one needs about 4,000+ words memorized before you can hope to speak a foreign language without a very patient conversational partner.

The Ipod software is very clever, as it uses “Albums” to create collections of words (one MP3 file for each word) and the English and Icelandic are displayed in the song title.

Another very good feature is the voice recognition.  My son thought that it was the best part of the whole package.  Scores went from gray to yellow to green.  For us, bad scores meant gray or low yellow.  Good scores were high yellow.  Sometimes noise and completely wrong words would score as mid-yellow, so if you use this, keep trying until you score high yellow.  My speaker did a really poor job of picking up the frictives, maybe I need to fiddle with the speaker volume.

hávaxin and hávaxinn (tall f. and m. respectively) as far as I can tell are pronounced the same. This cause some problem in some of the drills. Quirks like this would have only shown up if this had gone through some real life testing.

One bad: The Icelandic keyboard doesn’t work very well.  You can fairly easily create the þ, æ, ö, ð, doesn’t show how to make the á, í, ó, ú, é, some of which are common and important.  Right now I switch to notepad every time I need a special character the BYKI on-screen keyboard lets me down. 

One maybe bad: Icelandic has about a bazillion forms for each word (at least the verbs), kind of like latin.  I’m reviewing is putting all the adjectives into -ur form.

Another bad: The install wasn’t smooth.  On my machine, the install hung after showing 3/4 progress on the progress meter.  The FAQ say to fix it by wrecking your start up queue (by quote “Click the Load Startup Items square so that the green box goes away.”. I don’t recommend that, to risky for newbie users.  I’d recommend restarting in safe mode (hit F8 when the Windows boot screen comes up), which skips the start up queue.  Install the application, then reboot again with your normal startup queue.  The startup queue is a common source of computer problems–removing all apps from the queue can prevent device drivers and applications you like from loading (such as IM clients), in addition to preventing applications that may be causing conflicts.    Safe mode doesn’t have that risk.

Scandinavian Languages: Which to study?

By the numbers, Swedish looks like the most promising.  Swedish 9million, Danish spoken by 5million, Norwegian 5million,  Icelandic 300,000.  Finnish is a different language family from the first four, so if one is considering Finnish, might as well consider other agglutinative languages, but that is another post.

Norwegian is two official dialects (I think they are mutually intelligible, maybe even dialects), I’ve heard that Swedish and Norwegian are almost mutually intelligible. As far as I know, no other pairs of the above languages are mutually intelligible.

Danish is spoken on some other islands far away, like Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

I still like Icelandic better, because, hey, they’re closer than Norway, Sweden or Denmark.

Any how. Today I foud some Icelandic podcasts! http://www.mbl.is/mm/podcast/

Now I can hear a critical mass of Icleandic vowels and consonants so I can start to reproduce them instead of making wild guess from how the word looks on the page.