Icelandic is a language with a proud linguistic heritage. We descended from the Vikings, as did our beloved mother tongue. While every traveler needs to know basic phrases like “Hello”, “How are you”, and “Is that Sveinn Gunnarsson over there?” before their plane touches down in Reykjavik, let’s be real; that’s all a bit boring. What will truly help you on your trip to Iceland is being able to ask what on earth you are eating or swearing vengeance upon your mortal Icelandic enemy after a Saturday night bar fight on Laugavegur street. Just kidding, we’re quite peaceful here. But if someone does happen to cut in front of you in line at Sandholt bakery, you’ll be prepared to wow and terrify them with your newly-learned ability to issue a pretty serious threat in Icelandic. Here are some funny yet useful phrases in Iceland and when to use them.
Useful Icelandic Phrase #1: Hvað er ég að borða? (What am I eating?)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. While Iceland is known for some really tasty dishes like creamy, warming fish soup and the deliciously fried breakfast treat kleina, not all foodies visiting Iceland are in for a pleasant surprise. Among the more notorious dishes in Iceland are svið (a sheep’s head cut in half and boiled) and hákarl (fermented shark). If you’re are not a particularly adventurous eater, you can see why it’s useful to know this useful Icelandic phrase when dining out in Reykjavik. Although now that I’m thinking about it, maybe you should ask what something is before you order it.
Useful Icelandic Phrase #2: Ég mun finna þig í fjöru (I will find you at a beach)
This is a good one. Lest you think Icelanders are all sweet, peaceful, unassuming Northerners, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Guess what, we get mad too. And sometimes (only sometimes), it’s necessary to vow revenge against your sworn mortal enemy. In Iceland, we do that by saying “I will find you at a beach!” (Ég mun finna þig í fjöru), preferably while shaking our fist in the air. It makes sense. At the beach, they’ll be relaxed and their guard will be down. When they’re least expecting it…BOOM! Icelanders better watch out and think twice before they try to buy the last kleina at the bakery after you’ve waited in line for 20 minutes. Otherwise, they may find you creeping up on them while they snooze unsuspectingly at the shore on their holidays.
Useful Icelandic Phrase #3: Ég tók hann í bakaríið (I took him to the bakery)
Alright, maybe you don’t want to dedicate your time, energy, and your entire Icelandic vacation to hunting down sworn enemies on black sand beaches. Fair enough. But maybe you do want to tell someone off if they did something absolutely horrible like stretching out your favorite Lopapeysa sweater or telling you the Yule Lads aren’t real (they 100% are). When you are bragging to your Icelandic friends afterward about how awesome you were during your verbal altercation, be sure to drop in the line “I sure took him to the bakery!” (Ég tók hann í bakaríið). It means something along the lines of “I really showed him” or “I kicked his ass”. Because the only thing better than arguing with strangers is telling everyone about it afterward.
Useful Icelandic Phrase #4: Ein með öllu (One with everything)
Alright, after all of this Icelandic street fighting you must have worked up quite an appetite! You’ll want to head to your nearest food cart like Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur and fill your tummy to the brim with Iceland’s unofficial food: the hot dog. Be sure to order one with everything, which is the favorite way to enjoy this typical if unexpected dish.
Useful Icelandic Phrase #5: Horfðu á sauðina! (Watch out for the sheep!)
Well, it has been quite the day (or night) of speaking Icelandic. I hope that at some point you will leave the confines of Reykjavik. It’s also entirely possible that you will be chased out of town by the locals should you choose to reenact some of the scenarios outlined above. But it’s their loss, who needs those guys anyway? At any rate, you’ll eventually hit the open road and begin to explore the Icelandic countryside. You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for any wayward sheep roaming the roads. If you happen to be co-pilot, be sure to warn your driver well in advance by shouting “watch out for the sheep!” in Icelandic. You could say it in English, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, now would it?
Funny Yet Useful Phrases in Icelandic
I hope these funny and useful Icelandic phrases will make your trip a little bit more colorful and enjoyable. Going beyond the standard phrases and expressions of a language is one way to make any trip more memorable. And now, you know not only how to tell people not to mess with you, but also the right way to order a hot dog. It looks like you are ready for your trip to Iceland!