miðvikudagur, ágúst 02, 2006

allt ljómandi

It lies in the eyes upstairs. Everybody's naked on his back without his brother. Excuse me, but we are starving here and we are going to have to eat your car.

It's always amusing to translate Icelandic expressions word-for-word into English.

The one I always found most heartbreaking was ég segi allt ljómandi. It's a standard, peppy answer to the inevitable question: Hvað segirðu gott? i.e., How are you? Lit. What do you say good? Icelanders being insanely optimistic and unrelentingly hressir, they often answer Ég segi allt ljómandi, i.e. Everything's great! Lit. I say everything shining.

I say everything shining.

There's a fantastic poetry to that one, especially on a clear, clear, blue-skyed day with the glacier far out on the end of Snæfellsnes glampandi---the snow and ice glittering over the glass-green water---Esja and Skarðsheiði and everything almost too near.

Especially, too, when you know that they say this, Icelanders do, regardless of their actual internal state. The sun is shining, another clean-cut, fair-haired (they are not all fair-haired, but let us say this one is), long-limbed young man says everything just shining! and he could be newly heartbroken or newly done breaking someone else's heart. Before you know this, you may be taken in. You may hear no minor-key undertone in the phrase, only cheer.

Those bright days are stunning, but after duskfall (there is no nightfall in high summer) you will hear hrossagaukar rising into the air on whirring wings, and it will give you chills, and you will remember that the other side of the year is dark and cold and beckons the glaciers down into the valleys.

1 ummæli:

Ray Davis sagði...

"What's the good word?"

"Things are looking up."

(Read literally, that could be the tag line for a horror movie.)

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