Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions

Gleðilegt nýtt ár / Gott nytt år / Happy New Year.  I hope everyone spent it in the company of friends and/or family.  Personally, I spent it (along with Christmas) in Oxford, in the company of good friends and excellent food and whiskey =) The week before Christmas, however, I spent in the winter wonderland of Reykjavík! I will, however, regale you with that tale in some other post in the (very near) future.

First, I thought I would celebrate the New Year with some resolutions for the coming year.  Making such a list is common within the US, where I'm from, though I have no idea if people do anything similar elsewhere =)  I won't bore you with most of them, but I do have some language related ones that I thought I would share with you:

  1. Memorise the 100 most common Icelandic strong verbs by learning 1 per day
  2. Study Icelandic or Swedish every day (alternating between the two), for at least 20 minutes
  3. Blog here at least once per week.
Do any of you have any language related New Year's resolutions?

For the Icelandic learners who read this, I think now is the appropriate time to talk about some Icelandic vocabulary for the New Year.  The term for New Year, as in the period when the year turns over, is áramót.  It is a compound consisting of the genitive plural ára of the word ár, which means year, and the word mót, which is cognate to the English word "moot", meaning meeting.  The word mót can also have this meaning, but also the meaning of  "joint" or "boundary" i.e. a place where two things meet. So, one could translate áramót as "year boundary", which is a beautifully descriptive term, in my opinion. =)   Also interesting (to the learner, at least) is that the word  mót, when used in the sense above, is always morphologically plural.  That is, it is declined as a neuter, plural noun, and is referred to with the neuter, plural, pronoun þau, even if one is talking about a single boundary.  As for wishing someone "Happy New Year", one says, "Gleðilegt nýtt ár", although the "nýtt" may be omitted.  Like similar greetings, this uses the accusative (although you can't tell in the neuter!).  

In a related vein, there is a rather strong association in Iceland between bringing in the new year and fireworks (this is something of an understatement, as fireworks can be bought legally during this time of year and Icelanders do not mess around when it comes to putting on a good display).  The word for "fireworks" is flugeldar, which is a plural, masculine noun.  It is a compound consisting of flug, which means "flight", and eldar, the plural of eldur, which means "fire".  In the singular, it means "rocket", but can have the meaning of "fireworks" when used in the plural.   

Stay tuned for a story about my Icelandic language experiences, hopefully within the next week ;)