From Iceland — Letters


Published September 3, 2004


Whilst chatting with a friend on the corner of Austurstræti and Pósthússtræti the other day I was approached by a group of tourists – how did I know they were tourists? The umbrellas and German accent were a giveaway – one of the tourists proceeded to ask me if I could direct them to downtown Reykjavik. My immediate reaction was either he is taking the piss or he has not done his homework – I opted for the latter and told him apologetically that look no further, this is it – even though I did not mention the war he gave me that kind of very funny ha ha lost dog look and walked away looking for a second opinion.
What war? The war in Iraq? Germans are pacifists these days. Losing a war does that to you. Winning one makes you want more, which is perhaps why the US has been almost constantly involved in wars since 1945.
I like your magazine. I’d like it much more if it didn’t attack my typographic and grammatical sensibilities with alarming frequency. I hope you can improve your publication by absorbing and applying the following information.
This is an apostrophe: ‘
This is not an apostrophe: ´
On an Icelandic keyboard, an apostrophe may be input by pressing the key that, when pressed in conjunction with the shift key, produces a question mark.
The apostrophe is used in place of one or more other characters that have been removed for brevity. The neuter singular possessive pronoun, “its”, is only three letters to begin with; it hasn’t been shortened and doesn’t need an apostrophe.
Example: It’s said that a leopard cannot change its spots.
Dashes are often misused, but that doesn’t mean you have to. See
The use of single and double quotes around words, phrases, and quotations should be consistent.
Currently, all of these things are done correctly by some authors some of the time. An editor’s job includes making sure these things are consistently correct throughout each issue.
Happy editing!
I always have happy editing. In fact, I´m a very happy editor. I´ll happily give this an overhaul as soon as this paper is out.
Whilst I accept that it is the job and prerogative of the editor and co-editor to edit, I feel that the severe editing, re-writing, re-titling and consequent overall loss of meaning of my article without my consent and being informed went a bit far. It would seem to be rather more than pure coincidence that the parts cut, namely, Morgunblaðið, Björk, 66°North, Cintamani, Þrír Frakkar, Magnús Magnússon, are about advertisers and other articles in the newspaper. If as your email of 26 July, in which you say, “…I want you to be a columnist independent of the paper…” is to mean anything, then the editing, re-writing and re-titling without my knowledge or consent, seems inappropriate. If you had discussed the changes with me, then I would have withdrawn the article, as in the format that it now appears is most unsatisfactory to me. Maybe you would like to consider an apology in the next issue? I have drafted one for your convenience.
An apology
The article in Issue #7 of Grapevine contained an article entitled ‘Hassan’s World’. Grapevine would like to point out that this article was severely edited, re-worded and re-titled by Grapevine staff without the author’s knowledge or consent. Hassan has pointed out that this seriously affected the articles objective and overall loss of meaning. He has made it clear that he is unhappy with the changes made and if he had been made aware of the changes, he would have preferred the article not to be published. Grapevine acknowledges Hassan’s comments and unreservedly apologises.
There you go.
Good morning,
I’ve just come back to Italy after a very beautiful trip around Iceland. During my stay on the island, by chance, I came to read your article dated 19th August about a fact of racism involving some “Southern European men”. Well, after having read all the letter your final commentary left me really amazed. How can you generalize in that way affirming that Italians are “the root of racism”?? How can you confuse an unpolite behaviour of some stupid guys with the word racism? Don’t you think that sentences like that are based only on prejudices and for sure aren’t very polite towards a whole European country like Italy? I’m the first to apologize if a small part of Italians had an unpolite behaviour, but if you generalize like that, I’m sorry, but I will start to believe that the real racists are you. By the way, Italy isn’t the only southern European country. The men subject of the article could have been Spanish, Greek, southern French…. Anyway I suggest you to come down to visit Southern Europe, you will notice that the people are much more friendly and less racist compared to many Northern countries.
Best regards from Rome
Carlo Magistrelli
Jeez…Somebody wrote in saying that the root cause of racism was oogling Southern Europeans in hot tubs. I did the only sensible thing and made fun of this suggestion. Apparently, not everyone got it.
First of all I would like to thank u, for having an English newspaper, for American people like us, I would like to say and hopefully u will print this out. Here goes, Iceland is becoming to be one of the worlds best tourist attractions, and I think that Icelanders, especially kids, should be taught how to be polite with the foreigners, especially Asian people, yah they all look funny with there chinky eyes, but they are not stupid, nor poor, some Asian people that come here are very rich, and dignified. I see teenagers mocking them and making fun of them, and even mature people. I know that this is your country, but you guys should learn to accept other nations and colors. U can teach people how to be nice and not rude. I myself experience it. Never in my life was I discriminated against in America. I take the bus here and everybody looks at me like I am from a different planet. Its funny to you, as you read it but not for me. Yah I am Asian looking but born and raised in America…after all without the tourists the Icelandic economy would be low…why am I here? Because I fell in love. What beauty Iceland has…I would like to die here if I can…
Remember, children, be nice and not rude to one another.
I was amazed how many locals have dark hair and eyes (quite unlike Copenhagen) until the excellent Perlan Museum indicated that of the original settlers over 50% of women and 20% of men were of Celtic descent. The Norse in the 9th Century established cities along coastlines and since Ireland was densely populated it may have been easy to bring these people for a new adventure. A book I browsed through mentioned Celtic blood might be dominant according to blood samples.
PS. No need to give my name
The Vikings actually founded Dublin, which may explain why the Irish are more handsome than the English. And the Irish blood here might explain why the Icelandic are more sarcastic than Norwegians. Then again, it may just be the weather.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!


Show Me More!