From Iceland — Listen! It’s Heyrðu’s Time To Shine

Listen! It’s Heyrðu’s Time To Shine

Published April 23, 2024

Listen! It’s Heyrðu’s Time To Shine
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The Grapevine’s Guide To Sounding Icelandic, One Word At A Time

In many languages, telling someone “Listen!” is a good way to start a fight. Telling bank tellers to listen will get you kicked out, telling the receptionist at the doctors’ office to listen will get you hung up on and telling your partner to listen will result in a massive tiff. Yet, the Icelandic equivalent “Heyrðu!” is a mainstay in the language. It might be difficult to understand the nuances behind this word and you might be afraid to employ it because of the baggage the single word phrase “Listen!” tends to carry. Hopefully you’ll soon feel much more comfortable peppering some “Heyrðu!” in your vocabulary.

Heyrðu, let’s begin.

I know you saw that, and that right there is the most common use of the phrase. It is used any time you are about to start talking for a very slightly extended period of time. I certainly don’t mean a speech, but more in contexts like telling the waiter what your order will be, telling the employees at the clothing store what you’re looking for, or even when your friend asks why something happened and the explanation is a bit long-winded.

Essentially, you can use it as a way to verbally bold your words.

Heyrðu can indeed be used in a way similar to its direct English translation “listen,” but perhaps not quite in the same way. If I really wanted someone to listen, because I was upset or frustrated with them, I would opt for “Hlusta!” or something similar as it’s a bit sharper. However, if you want to concede someone’s point (Heyrðu, you’re actually right about that) or gently push back (Heyrðu, I love you, but I don’t like the way you were talking to that waiter), heyrðu can work.

Heyrðu, the article’s coming to an end! Here’s hoping that this has helped you just that wee bit more on your Icelandic learning journey. Gangi ykkur vel og skemmtið ykkur!

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