Visually Descriptive Vocab: Appelsínuhúð

Hello, Internet!

It’s been forever, I know, and I’m not going to spend too much time at the moment rehashing the time gone by. Suffice to say that I took three translation-related MA courses last semester and worked harder than I maybe have in university ever (and I’ve been in university for a long time now), and whoa was there just a lot to do. So any blog posts that I might have managed during those lost months would have been less cheery/informative/interesting and more along the lines of this.

That bit’s over and done now, though, so I’m going to see about getting back to posting here at least every so often. And what better way to start than with fun vocab!

I was reading through my email this morning and opened one from a local home-delivery website that has daily deals—basically, discounted vacuums and home goods. And one of today’s deals—a product that claims to help one reduce cellulite—yielded up an amazing new Icelandic word. Observe:


The caption reads: 20 day treatment that reduces cellulite. The Icelandic word for ‘cellulite’? Delightfully, it’s appelsínuhúð, which literally means ‘orange-skin.’ Which is a perfectly apt and yet totally imaginative way of describing cellulite, isn’t it? Skin that is covered in little pocks or dimples, like the peel of an orange.

orange peel close up

I don’t think I’ll look at cellulite (or oranges) the same after this, but I will probably remember this word, so that’s something.

And with that, happy 2016, everyone! It’s not a particularly seasonal start to the year, but it’s good to be back, all the same.

Iceland’s Version of the Bookworm

A delightful vocab discovery in my homework assignment today:


a reading horse, the distant cousin of the book worm

This word wasn’t in any of my dictionaries (surprise!), but I did find a quick blurb about it on this on a linguistics page associated with the University of Iceland. It is a Q&A page, and the question, conveniently enough, asks “Where did the word ‘lestrarhestur’ come from?”

I won’t try to translate the answer (you can click the link if you want to check it out in Icelandic), but the gist is that this is a loan word from Danish and has been in use since sometime in the 20th century. I believe that the answer also says that it used to have a rather negative connotation, but now, like “book worm” (bókaormur in Icelandic), isn’t so bad.

Apparently, Danish also has a similar word which translates to “reading shark,” but for whatever reason, lestrarhákarl doesn’t seem to have made any inroads in Iceland, which I think is truly a shame.

However, given how super-duper awesome and adorbs and well-coiffed Icelandic horses are (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit Awesome), I think we can all get behind the lestrarhestur coinage, eh?

Best Practices in Flugdólgar Management

Perhaps you have seen the increasingly wacky story going around the internets about the guy who flew back to New York on an Icelandair flight just after New Year’s (not our friend, and not our friend’s flight, luckily) after imbibing a full bottle of duty-free liquor (licorace-flavored Topaz, which for reference, is simply awful). The man, who was identified today as an Icelander, became disorderly and violent, reportedly spitting on fellow passengers, hitting people, and screaming that the plane was going to crash. Things progressed to the point that the man was eventually restrained by crew and fellow passengers and bound with duct tape and cable wires. (There is, of course, a photo of this spectacle going around, but I’ll leave you to follow the links.)

While this may have been the flight from hell for the other passengers and the flight crew, it does make for a pretty engaging anecdote for the rest of us to read about, and presumably, report on, as there have been dozens of stories about it thus far, in both English language and Icelandic papers. (It’s worth noting here that for whatever reason, it doesn’t look like the guy will face charges, although he has been banned for flying Icelandair for some time.)

But let’s not leave this just at amusing reading. Let’s make it a teaching moment. Because, other than demonstrating the best practices in restraining crazy drunks on airplanes (duct tape, of course–the classics are best), this incident has also gifted me two amazing vocab words, which I am now regifting to you:

1. Flugdólgur (plural: flugdólgar) — air hooligan via The Reykjavík Grapevine:

The articles in Iceland speculate on the nationality of the suspect. Guðjón [ed note: the spokesperson for Icelandair] would not disclose the suspect’s nationality, but at least one witness believes he is Icelandic. The cause for the speculation is related to the word used in the article to describe the suspect, flugdólgur; literally “air hooligan”. This word was invented by the Icelandic media in the late 90s to describe the behaviour of drunken airplane passengers, many of them Icelanders, who have been arrested for disorderly conduct in flight.

Something to bear in mind for future flights, I suppose.

2.  Berserksgang — smooth translation: to go on a rampage, go berserk / awesome, more literal translation: to go on a berserker walk via Morgunblaðið:

Bandaríska stórblaðið The New York Post greinir ítarlega frá atvikinu, sem varð um borð í flugvél Icelandair á leið til New York í fyrradag þegar ölvaður íslenskur karlmaður gekk berserksgang og óla þurfti hann niður. Þar segir að farþegar hafi þurft að halda manninum niðri.

here’s my best shot at a general–not great, and not word for word–translation:

The American newspaper The New York Post reported the details of the incident, which took place on board an Icelandair flight on its way to New York the day before yesterday [ed note: Thursday, January 3] when a drunk Icelandic man went on a rampage and had to be restrained. It said that the passengers had to hold the man down.

I know that the phrase “go berserk” is common in English, but I think “berserksgang” really takes it to 11. He didn’t just get out of control. He went berserksgang! Excellent vocab! Much appreciated, crazy Icelandair passenger!

Vocab Phrase of the Day: “Saga til næsta bæjar”

Vocab Phrase of the Day

‘Saga til næsta bæjar’

“something to tell at the next farm”

I came across this phrase–which apparently, “…everyone’s heard before”–in a very interesting article about a current exhibition at the Icelandic Museum of Design and Applied Art. According to the article, the phrase “…hearkens to a period of greater isolation in Iceland. When people went out, they would travel from farm to farm. If they heard a story or came upon something of fascination, it would be something “worth telling at the next farm.”