Published October 5, 2012
You’ve probably noticed it too. Icelanders who go downtown after midnight on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night tend to drink like college freshmen who aim to become dead drunk. If you’re unaware, stay out until 3 AM or even 6 AM and observe.
But while college freshmen talk about “getting smashed,” “hammered,” “destroyed” or “wasted,” which imply some kind of bodily harm or self-destruction, Icelanders use phrases that imply something a bit different.
Take for instance “að detta í það” and “að hrynja í það,” or “to fall into it” and “to crash into it,” as these phrases can be respectively translated. While they imply a certain bodily harm, they also imply accident: Whoops-a-daisy, I fell. Oops, I ran into it. Even if you planned to do it, it’s like it’s really somehow not your fault.
Many of these phrases are also pretty euphemistic. For instance, there’s “að fara á túr” or “to go on a journey,” which is also something ships and women do. This is used to describe a serious drinking stint that may go on for days and days. But somehow it’s still okay. It’s a just a trip, you’ll be back and it’ll be over.
And then there’s “að fá sér í tánna” which is literally “to have some in your toe,” and “að fá sér í glas,” which is “to have a glass,” but who are you kidding, you’re not about to have just a little bit or one glass. You’re going to get drunk.
Whatever the origin of these terms, a proponent of linguistic determinism might conclude that they explain the type of drinking that goes on here. And maybe if they were changed or removed in Orwellian fashion, we wouldn’t be sending something like 10% of living males to treatment at Iceland’s AA equivalent. Okay, now I’m only kidding.
If anything, this stat is a measure of success for SÁÁ, Iceland’s Center of Addiction Medicine, which celebrates its 35-year anniversary the very day this paper prints. But we won’t put a damper on your fun with more talk of alcoholism. Go out and enjoy Airwaves in all its greatness! As they say, “When in Rome…”
Ten Ways To Get Drunk, the literal translations
Að detta í það – to fall into it
Að hrynja í það – to crash into it
Að liggja í því – to lay in it
Að fá sér í glas – to have a glass
Að fá sér í tána – to have some in your toe
Að fara á kenderí – to get intoxicated
Að fara út á lífið – to go out on the life
Að drekka sig fullan – to drink yourself full
Að fara á fyllirí – to get drunk
Að vera blautur – to be wet