A Few Small Steps for Icelandic Speakers, One Giant Leap for Me

Just a small detour from the rambling trip recaps to say “Whoot!” Why a “Whoot!” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you, obliging reader: I have had a run of communication successes. I have been able to say things! obtain things! do things!–in Icelandic! (Crowd noises!) Not anything extensive, of course, and not without some missteps along the way–the people at the post office still have no idea what I’m saying when I ask to pick up mail for my address because I can’t say my own street name correctly–but still! Big steps for me. In the last couple of weeks I have been able to ask for and obtain/say the following things in Icelandic:

  • “Do you have a knife?” At the 10-11 in Vesturbær. (We needed a plastic knife for butter-spreading for our driving trip.)
  • “I will get a mint tea, to go–please.” At the Eymundsson downtown.
  • “Can I use a card?” (Meaning, to pay–but that was implied, I didn’t manage to say that bit. And if I’m honest what I said was actually “Use card?” But the nice lady at the counter said “Já” and helped me, so that counts as a success. Communication is not always grammatical, guys.) At a roadside gas station in the country.
  • “I will have one coffee and one kleina, thank you.” At the Björnsbakarí in Vesturbær. (Funny little slip-up here: the cashier asked if I wanted the receipt and I made one of those “umm-uh” noises that we make in English to mean “no,” then caught myself, said “No–uh! Nei! Nei!” until the lady laughed and asked me (in Icelandic) if I was a student at the University. Caught! I wonder what the Icelandic equivalent of “umm-uh” is?)
  • “Two coffees, please.” At a coffee counter in the Kringlan mall. (This might look like basically the same phrase as above and therefore not worth counting, but remember: declensions! So I managed to decline both the number one and the number two correctly, for neuter and feminine nouns. Isn’t that just absolutely The Most?! I think so, too, thank you. I will also note here that there is sort of a Pavlovian quality to some of these practice conversations: I say something correctly, I get a doughnut. Pretty soon, every time I’m in class and I get a question right, I’m going to expect a kleina to magically appear on my desk…)

So there you have it–thank you for reveling in my own brief moment self-satisfaction, everyone. (Baby Steps!)

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