Practicing Icelandic Through Song Titles

On my first trip to Iceland, I listened to quite a bit of Icelandic music thanks to Icelandair’s ample music selection on my sleepless flight to Keflavík. I had really only listened to Sigur Rós, Ásgeir, and Of Monsters and Men prior to that, so I was amped to add find new music for what would become a future Iceland Trip playlist. 🙂

Flash-forward a few months into learning Icelandic and perhaps my favorite thing about listening to Icelandic music nowadays is incorporating the words I’ve learned so far when trying to sort out what Icelandic song titles mean.

For example, the above are all song titles I’ve (somewhat) figured out the meaning to (I think) on my own. At the very least, I’ve been able to identify enough words to get a sense of what a few songs are likely about.

  • “Þú (you) Komst (come / find) Við Hjartað (heart) Í Mér (in me)” by Hjaltalín — A song lyrics translation website says this translates to “You Touched My Heart.”
  • “Leiðin (way / the way) Okkar (our) Allra (all)” by Hjálmar — Google Translate is the worst with Icelandic, but it says this means “Our Way of All.”
  • “Ryðgaður (rust) Dans (dance)” by Valdimar — One music website says this means “Rusty Dance.”
  • “Sævindur” by Ylja — Google Translate says this means “waters stained glass”…but I know that sæ = sea and vindur = wind, so I’m gunna say sea wind aka sea breeze?
  • “Skuggamyndir” by Rökkurró — Google Translate says this means “shaddows,” and my guess was shaddow pictures, as skugga = shaddow and myndir = pictures.
  • And as for those Ásgeir songs, I know that “Sumargestur” = summer guest, “Hljóða (hljóð = sound) Nótt” means something about the night, and that “Nýfallið Regn” means something to do with new or fresh rain, as nýtt / nýr = new and regn = rain.

I definitely know that I didn’t get all of the above correct, but I’m okay with that at the moment. I know enough words to grasp the general meaning—at least I think I do—and I’m pretty proud of myself for that. (I’m always so tough on myself, so I want to soak up these mini accomplishments!)

The past couple weeks of impromptu song title translation practice has been a nice little reminder that language learning isn’t about all things grammar. It’s way more holistic (at least that’s what I want it to be), encompassing big parts of my everyday life.

From realizing a song’s meaning when the title pops up on a playlist to intentionally writing out my daily gratitude list in Icelandic (just started this!) to naming items in Icelandic while on a walk (blóm! gras! hundur! bílar! vegur!), I’m making an effort to practice Icelandic beyond my workbook and apps, and I feel pretty good about it. 🙂



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