Monday, May 6, 2013

The weirdness formula: I talk about my country

Song of the day: 'Time' cover, from the soundtrack of Inception.

So ever so often I go wikiwalking on the internet, mildly obsessed with something I've been thinking about recently. This time, I was extremely curious to see what people think of my own country, and according to Google auto-fill that is:

1. Icelanders are weird

2. Icelanders are kooky

3. Iceland is boring (which led me to a very interesting article where the author concluded that Icelandic girls are boring since none of them would have deep conversations with him before sleeping with him on top of being annoyingly feminist)

On the first two... We are? I mean, I'm quite flattered if that is really the case but isn't the whole thing about weirdness subjective? Isn't that the whole basis for weird? By that standard, every culture you don't know or aren't used to is weird compared to your own. As for the third, I dunno. I don't find it particularly boring, but each to his own.

I wonder if I could make a mathematical formula for weirdness. Lessee... Number of people that have said weird trait/the number of people not possessing that weird trait. I.e. attributed weird/judging of weird. AW/JW. That should give you a percentage, since the size of the second group tends to be higher than the former. Please tell me if you can make something up that actually makes sense.

Yes, it is true that the Mayor of our capital is actually a comedian/punk rocker/actor with no experience in politics and promised to break all his promises if he were elected.

Reykjavík Mayor Jón Gnarr dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi 
along with Lady Gaga because why the fuck not

Yes, we do have a tradition of eating sheep heads and sort-of-rotten/cured shark (personally I would touch neither with a long stick) and (very) occasionally hunt whales (which are DELICIOUS.)

Yes, almost everyone doesn't have a surname, and instead has a patronym or occasionally a matronym (which plays merry hell with the tourists whenever they try to look something up in the phone book)

Yes, we WILL eat barbeque as soon as summer officially starts, whether it is pouring with rain or temperatures are below zero (which tends to happen)

We can still read the Landnáma (a book written about the first settlers somewhere around the year 1000), which I find seriously cool; the language didn't change for centuries due to isolation.

Then there is the thing about leaving baby strollers outside (which I thought was perfectly normal until my foreign friend asked if kids didn't get stolen all the time and I was like... What?) and the communal showers, saunas and natural pools... we aren't very nudity-conscious. Our parliament is also the oldest one still in practice and we get earthquakes and volcanic eruptions a lot - that's what you get when your ancestors settle right on top of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. We also have the same word for 'aunt' 'niece' and (female) 'cousin', which is 'frænka' (the same goes for 'uncle', 'nephew' and (male) 'cousin', which is 'frændi'.)

We are a sarcastic bunch of bastards to a fault and alternate between talking about how amazing the place is to how terrible it is in a matter of minutes. The main religion of Iceland is Protestant Christianity, but you'll find that very few people actually practice it and a lot of people identify as 'not particularly religious'. Some people still practice Ásatrú, which has got all the cool gods like Óðinn, Þór and Loki (and for the last time, not the latter two weren't brothers, that's just the Marvel comics!)

I suspect us to have SIS (small island syndrome) since we think ourselves as a whole as much bigger than we are (and this is probably what led to the banking crisis.)

We also have the first openly gay prime minister (something I'm seriously proud of, and I generally think that being proud of your country is kind of a redundant thing) and by law anyone can marry/love/sleep with whoever the hell they want (as long as it's in consent, of course.)

There is some rumour about Icelandic girls being the hottest of all time (kinda like that rumour about Swedish girls), which, you know, take it or leave it; yet again it depends on your preferences.

Oh, and of course we don't believe in fairies. Er, although, we might not move a rock or farm a particular hill with a certain reputation about it.... You know, just in case.

Oh, and just to make it clear for once and for all, Eyjafjallajökull is pronounced (approximately):

-Eh (imagine an Aussie saying 'Eh, mate?')
-Ah (like that time you found out something mortifyingly embarrassing about your great-aunt)
-Fia (Like 'Fiat' without the T)
-La (hard L sound)
-Juh (I'm having a hard time finding the appropriate translation for the 'ö' sound, but 'uh' will have to do)
-Kull (another hard L)

See? It even makes sense now. Really it's the most uninspired name ever for a volcano when you translate it; it essentially means 'Island-mountain-glacier.' We are such amazing givers of names as a nation.

Now, non-existant commenter, tell us what things people find weird with your country that you find completely normal!

P.s. Please don't ask about Björk, okay? Even we think that she's weird.

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