laugardagur, júlí 22, 2006


I dimly recall puzzling out the meaning of the word vei. This was back in the gray dawn of my romance with the language as a whole (a friendship that blossomed slowly into something more, as can happen). My native speaker interlocutor was struggling with an explanation when it struck me: woe. There are some striking parallel constructions: Ó, vei mér! Oy, vey ist mir! Oh, woe is me! As usual, the Icelandic is more compact than the Yiddish or English.

Then there is the construction: vei + dat. = "woe unto __," e.g., vei þér, "woe unto you," "woe be to thee." Handy, if that's the sort of thing you would like to express in a succinct form, and haven't we all had days like that?

Paradoxically, vei is also used like English "yay," as in vei vei vei! Ég fer í frí til Majorca á morgun! Jibbí! I'm sure the natives don't confuse the two, but isn't the idea of such confusion an interesting one?

1 ummæli:

V/B sagði...

Yes, a very interesting idea. This confusion would never occur in a face-to-face conversation but in theory it could occur in an online conversation and I doubt it would be a lot of fun. With that in mind, coming up with a phrase where the intended meaning of vei is not obvious is a remarkably difficult and interesting exercise, assuming one wants a more complex phrase than just "vei". Leaving out a certain puncuation mark could also have disastrous consequences: Vei! Þér! ;-).

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