02 March 2011

Now ðere's a Þought.

Sometimes at work I come across emails where some of the words are in Icelandic. I can’t help scrolling down and staring and imagining how those words must sound. I think of Sigur Ros and Bjork, tinkering with music boxes and tinkling with little bells - all the time whispering with soft consonants that express nothing of their devestated economy, while a massive volcano simmers behind them, the name of which looks like some keyboard-mash that was never intended to be uttered.

However, what attracts me most to Icelandic is the abundant use of my old friends eth and thorn (Þ and ð). They are sprinkled through the text so liberally that it has a runic flavour, making it look a little bit like Tolkein’s Elvish. It’s because Icelandic has kept those little orthographical links to old English that we discarded that I feel a common bond. It reminds me that there were vikings and longboats and at some point English and Icelandic emerged from the same root language.

If we still had them, spelling would be so much easier. Word pairs like ‘thigh’/’thy’ would be easily distinguished by the correct use of Þ and ð. Not only would Þis make English easier to learn, it would also make it prettier to read. It’s such a shame ðat we don’t have any accents to pour over our letters. Ðey are a little bit plain wiÞout ðem but at least wiÞ Þ and ð, Þis text is little more decorative. Ðere now, isn’t ðat better! If Þis blog post were a person, ðey would have put on a big woolly hat with ear-flaps right about now. Imagine ðere’s a breeze blowing from the norÞ, and wiÞ its chill it carries a simple minor melody ðat rings Þrough an evergreen forest before gently fading away into the eÞer.

Limited Success

My wrists were getting sore but I kept going. I had to swap hands a few times but I tried to ignore this and keep up my enthusiasm. I was sure I could feel an improvement and that I wouldn't have to keep going for much longer, but the task in hand was infinitely on the verge of completion.

I had built this up so much, both in my mind and in my words, that I wasn’t willing to admit defeat, so I began to hope for some distraction to get me out of this impossible situation. I kept adding oil to make it smoother but no matter how much I poured on, it was still stiff and dry. When I tasted it, I knew it wasn’t right, but I soldiered on, even keeping a towel at hand to prevent mess.

My initial excitement turned to disappointment, a sense of failure and a seething silent anger. Anger at myself for being incapable of getting it right, and indignant at how frustratingly difficult this was proving to be. My inept actions became half-hearted and weary as I stopped pretending that I thought this could work. It was clearly time to stop. My physical discomfort soon caught up and I could no longer dismiss the aches in my arms and shoulders. I sighed and put the mixer down. In despair I was forced to acknowledge the lumpy chick-pea mess that should have become a creamy hummus. It felt as if hours had passed.