26 December 2007

Að telja á íslensku (og á indíánu tungumálið) (Counting in Icelandic and Indian)

Counting in Icelandic (and Indian). In the missionary training center I remember looking at my missionary name tag for the first time and having it blow my mind. It had my name and the name of the Church in Icelandic on it. I thought that if I could ever even learn to say the name of the Church in Icelandic, I would have really accomplished something. The name in Icelandic was Kirkja Jesú Krists hinna Síðari Daga Heilögu. Not too long after that I remember hitting the section in our language book where we learned how to spell, speak and write the numbers. Again I was dumbfounded at how complex Icelandic was when I learned that, not only were the numbers and the ordinals hard to learn in and of themselves, but that the numbers 1 to 4 were all declined like other adjectives. To begin with, there were eight ways of saying each noun depending on whether it was a masculine, feminine or neutur word. Then there were 24 different ways of saying every adjective--including the numbers one through four to an extent--making sure that any adjective "agreed" gramatically with the noun it modified. Mindblower for a 19 year old who thought he was relatively intelligent. Humility set in, hard work ensued, leaky-brain-syndrome was discovered and the days passed.

These are the 12 ways of spelling the number "one" (you don't get twenty-four since there is no plural of "one"):

m f n

einn ein eitt
einn eina eitt
einum einni einu
eins einnar eins

Be careful with the number six, too (Enough said). Even our buddies learning other Scandinavian languages felt sorry for us because of the difficulty of the Icelandic language system. We persevered though and by the time we got to Iceland a total of two months later--we knew Icelandic so well that we thought we were hearing Japanese when we arrived.

Our teachers made all the difference though. We did not have natives from Iceland who were teaching us, but returned missionaries who wanted to make life easier for us when we got there by giving us a good foundation in the training center. My teachers were:

Paul Lewis (before and after. The tall guy on the left was Gerald Dunlop, also an RM who served in Iceland)

Eric Kristjanson (with before & after pictures. The "afters" include twin grandchildren)

Curt Hutchings (no pictures for him yet)
I came home from Iceland in 1986, married in 1987 and had my seventh daughter of seven children in 2005. Shortly after I was married though, I met my wife's grandfather, Harold Reed of Thatcher, Arizona. He required all of his grandchildren to learn to count to ten in "Indian". I thought, since I was marrying into the family, that I should learn to count to ten in Indian too. So I did. I must admit though that there is something fishy about his way of counting....It was much too easy to learn when compared to learning to count to ten in Icelandic. Here it is:
one zaw
two zaw
words of Mary
Haileum, scailium
zeencum peencum
You must draw your own conclusions about this. Either way, I learned it in Icelandic and was able to survive in Iceland and then learned it in "Indian" and was "in" with my in-laws. A plus on both counts. The more languages a person knows, the better.


Uncle Dale said...

Have Steve tell you the "Five Hotdog" story from the '06 trip. We wanted two each, but I couldn't for the life of me remember which "four" went with "Pylsur".....So we ate 5.

Darron said...

Thats the funniest thing I've heard all day. It is only 9:30am though, so there's lots of time left....