From Iceland — Words Of Interest: For The Love Of Raisins

Words Of Interest: For The Love Of Raisins

Published May 20, 2016

Words Of Interest: For The Love Of Raisins

Icelanders seem to be very fond of raisins.

“Rúsínan í pylsuendanum” is a mouthful to say. It’s the Icelandic equivalent of the phrase “cherry on top of the sundae,” used to describe unexpected surprises that make good things even better.

The idiom comes from the Danish phrase “rosine i pølseenden,” which is no surprise given Iceland and Denmark’s intertwined history. Old Danish sausage recipes used to call for putting raisins at the end, according to a poem from 1828 by Christian Winther, and presumably that must have been some sort of a treat.

Another heartwarming phrase involving raisins is “litla rúsínan mín.” It means “my little raisin” and parents use it to address their little ones. You can even add it to another familiar term of endearment, “rassgat.” This literally means “asshole,” but it’s actually used to describe something adorable, similar to the Japanese word “kawaii.” When you add raisin in front of that, you get “rúsínurassgat,” or “raisin asshole,” which I guess is even cuter than a regular asshole.

Every Single Word in Icelandic is a pictographic exploration of the Icelandic language. I find an interesting compound word, then deconstruct and illustrate it as icons. The goal is to express how Icelandic can be deadpan literal and unexpectedly poetic at the same time.

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