Bright and early this morning I trekked into school for Part 2 of my munnlegt próf (oral exam) in my Pronunciation and Speech class. My two group mates and I had been working diligently on our practice dialogs, but I was still nervous: the test would start with each of us (the students) introducing ourselves a little—name, where we are from, how long we’ve been in Iceland, what we’re doing this summer, etc—and then we’d have to have a short conversation about a topic which we had prepared for in advance. (There were actually four topics, and then we picked exactly which one we’d be discussing from a hat 15 minutes before the test this morning.) The test was done in front of our teacher and also an objective observer whose job it is to make sure that the grading is done fairly and impartially.
All in all, I’d say we did pretty well. Our teacher asked us to introduce ourselves one by one, but then asked us a number of short follow-up questions which we hadn’t had a chance to prepare in advance for. I don’t think that my grammar or accent were flawless by any means, but I did understand everything she asked and was able to talk a little about my interest in Icelandic literature and the fact that I want to be a translator. So far so good.
Then my teacher asked if I was a poet. I said no, but that I did write. She said, “just stories?” and I replied that yes, I wrote stories, but also that I wrote for papers.
Or, I tried to say that: “Ég skrifa fyrir blöð,” is what I went for, trying to pronounce the plural form of “blað,” or newspaper.
At this point, the objective observer looked up and asked me to repeat what I had said.
“Blöð?” I ventured. “Eins og Reykjavík Grapevine?” (Like the Reykjavík Grapevine?)
“Oh!” he said, smiling a little. “Blöð.”
Well yes, I thought, like I’ve been saying. But then I realized that I had been having trouble, as I always do, pronouncing the “ö.” So instead of saying, “blöð,” I’m pretty sure that I was saying “blóð.” Or, “Ég skrifa fyrir blóð” – I write for blood.
And, in the words of the marvelous Gilda Radner, that’s very different.
But, hey! Two tests and one (vampire) paper down! That just leaves two more tests to go! Which means, obviously, that it is time for Babs: