Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

“Gleðilegt sumar” – merry summer – and Icelandic spelling

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Yesterday was the first day of summer, according to the old Icelandic almanac – and that is when Icelanders say “gleðilegt sumar” (merry summer) to each other. This sentence has been echoing in the crisp chilly air here in Reykjavík and will stay in the air for the next few days. On the first day of summer, parents give their children “summer gifts,” something useful like a ball to play outside etc. And to those one knows well, one adds “og takk fyrir veturinn” – thank you for the winter.

To Icelog readers: “gleðilegt sumar og takk fyrir veturinn.”

It snowed a bit in Reykjavík yesterday and the temperature was below zero during the night between winter and summer. In old lore, it bodes for a good summer when winter and summer “freeze together.”

Another thing: observant readers will notice that I have recently started to write Icelandic names and words with Icelandic letters, acute accent and all. I’ve been oscillating on this matter, did it once, dropped it but yes, now Icelandic names on Icelog are all Icelandic.

Normally, when the letters ó and ö are transcribed into English (or, for that matter, any other foreign language using the Latin alphabet) they are both replaced with o. Hyper-correctly, ö should be transcribed as oe, æ as ae. And so on. For the sake of clarity and simplicity I will from now on stick to the Icelandic alphabet.

One way of semi-transcribing Icelandic names is to use only the acute accent over vowels – á é í ó ý – but not the special Icelandic letters þ and ð (I have done this on my business card: Davídsdóttir instead of Davíðsdóttir). That is one way of doing it. When foreigners attempt to do it they almost always get it wrong, some accents are kept, others lost. For a foreigner it is really tricky to use the accents correctly. Copying Icelandic names is the easiest procedure.

Those who use my Icelandic version can copy the names or words directly or drop the ð and þ but keep the accents. Whatever the procedure, they can at least rest assured that it is correct Icelandic.

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Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

April 26th, 2013 at 7:57 am

Posted in Iceland

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  1. On the Mac (or iPad) it is a simple matter to type the special Icelandic characters. A few keystrokes get you there (you don’t need to remember anything on the iPad).

    Rajan P. Parrikar

    26 Apr 13 at 5:27 pm

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