ICELAND / TRAVEL STUFF

hvað er þetta?

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We started the day with a language class which wasn’t as hard as I was expecting but it was really basic stuff. We started by going over the phonetics a little and I am so incredibly glad that I had my french phonetics class at Laval to help me out a little. (even though I was/am terrible with phonetics).

Fun fact, there are A LOT of exceptions with the Icelandic language. I don’t know how many to be exact but our professor did made sure that we knew that there are a lot. One thing we did learn is that the stress is always on the first syllable. No exceptions! Yay! Harder said then done but the fact that there are no exceptions is amazing.

We learnt a couple different basic words and a little bit about gender. We were given a piece of paper and were asked to figure out which words were masculine, feminine or neutral and then place the definite article. Then our professor had us ask each other “hvað er þetta?” or “what is this” to which we would respond “þetta er ____” Interesting stuff I tell you!

After language class we had a lecture on Icelandic history which I found really interesting. Did you know that Iceland is the only nation in Scandinavia that is growing in population because of child birth? The average age of men is 36 and women is 37 and people live to among the longest lives in the world, he believed the only country which has a higher life span is Japan. Also, did you know that about 50% of the population had come from the British Isles? Most were from Ireland taken as labour – read: slaves (men) or captives (women). I quite enjoy the use of the word labour to explain slavery, its so… posh for something so cruel.

We then took a break for lunch and then had our Genealogy course which was very very entertaining. Svava Guðrún Sigurðardóttir who is a genealogist working with Íslendingabók led the lecture and was hilarious. While a genealogist she described herself as a historical dectective working through very old documents cross referencing family registry’s back to the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, chronicles, law books, diplomatarium Islandium and the Icelandic Sagas. They also go through old church records, the oldest dating back to 1664. Íslendingabók means The Book of Icelanders and allows for Icelanders to go online and help find out/fill in their genealogy a lot of which has already been done, now it is used for filling in blanks or adding new family members. Íslendingabók goes back before the 15th century, it dates back to the 9th century when people first came to the island! There are a total of 795,500 people in the book and this is the break down:

20-21st century = 448,200
19th century = 181,600
18th century = 87,600
17th century = 60,100
before 1600 = 18,000

And the total connection factor is 87.5%

We learnt that there have been about 50,000 people in every generation since settlement, the total number of Icelanders overtime is estimated at 160,000 and that there have been 32 generations since settlement. The maternal reliability of the book is estimated to be 99.3% and that there are only roughly 1.49% false paternities per generation. We were explained that the low rate is because Icelanders have not been shy to admit to children out of wedlock. As an example a Catholic priest had 9 children with his companion.

Fun fact! There used to be a law in Iceland that you had to be at least 7 generations removed from someone else to be together. That doesn’t exist anymore so according to law you could marry your first cousin… but culturally that wouldn’t happen. Apparently people make sure that they are far enough removed, there is even a facebook application for Íslendingabók!

Now the good stuff. I got my genealogy today! My grandpa who I maybe should have been calling afi (grandfather in Icelandic) all these years had gone through our genealogy a few years back and gave my brother, dad and I all copies of. I don’t remember how far back his work goes but what I got today goes back 10 generations to the early 1700’s. Which was really cool to look back on and attempt to read (its all in Icelandic). The program also went through to see how each of us doing the program our related too. I’m not too close of a relative to anyone here though, the closest I am is 7 generations and the farthest is 13.

We also got to find out how we are related to famous Icelanders! We are all related to Egill Skallagrímsson, Leifr Eiríksson, Snorri Sturluson,

So I’m not sure how many of you know of those people, but have you heard of Björk?

Yupp we go way back, 9 generations back.

What about Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson of Sigur Rós? Or his solo stuff as Jónsi? (click this one for his stuff!)

Related to him too, 10 generations back for me, 8 for him. He also lives about… 3 or 4 houses away.

Or what about Of Monsters and Men?

Well co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and I are 7th cousins.

So, pretty much related with all of Iceland. NBD. (That means ‘no big deal’ mom/dad) But actually it isn’t that big of a deal. Everyone’s related here.

After our classes we went out for a photo scavenger hunt with the participants of Nordjobb a program for people from Nordic countries to travel to another Nordic country and work for the summer. It was a good time walking around the city looking for random things. After that we sat in the park and had a little snack picnic before heading back for dinner and working on homework from today’s class.

On another note, a couple of things stood out to me today because studying gender studies. During our history class today we were told that a new law was just passed yesterday giving new/improved rights to transgendered people in Iceland. Also, during genealogy, the discussion came up about difficulties with the program regarding transgendered individuals. Essentially the program the organization had been using didn’t allow for changes to occur to individuals sex, but she told us that the program was changed to allow for that. Something a little more difficult however to account for was when individuals had lived, been married and had children as one sex and then transitioned, however the issues with the program for this were also sorted out. Neat.

Now its time to study a little before heading to bed!

Takk fyrir í dag Íslandi! (thanks for the day Iceland… I think?)

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