Word Of The Issue: Útlenska - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Word Of The Issue: Útlenska

Published September 22, 2017

This word basically means “foreign languages,” but not quite. It is an expression that linguistically splits all languages into Icelandic or not Icelandic. You could almost view it as a Husserlian phenomenological exploration of language as The Other—that is if it wasn’t for the fact that the term stems from an uneducated, isolated dirt farmers’ nation, where no other languages were ever spoken. People were unable to distinguish between Spanish, Russian or Chinese, and, therefore, conveniently lumped them all together into the monolith language ‘Útlenska.’ Example: “Rabesen travis?”, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Útlenska.”

 


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