I know Swedish and Norwegian well, and I 'd thought vaguely from time to time that I 'd like to learn Icelandic too; I 've actually been a great dmirer of Tolkien, and I felt he had been interested in Icelandic; and I have a couple of Icelandic friends.
But the mainland languages have evolved at a normal rate, while Icelandic, on its faraway island, has changed elatively little; so if you speak Swedish or Norwegian, it 's like rying to writ a language which for an English-speaker would be somewhere between Chaucer and Beowulf.
But I know Le petit prince, and I started trying to guess what word was what, just reading without looking anything up.It was amazing to see how well this worked.
For contex, let me show you the following sentence: Þar sem ég hafði adrei teiknað kind dró ég upp fyrir hann aðra af þeim tveimur myndum sem ég var fær að gera: myndina af kyrkislöngunni utanverði.The first time I saw this, there ere still a couple of words I felt at all sure about.
As I read a nove for he fourth time, the other words gradually fell into place too, and after a while I could writ it as sort-of-Swedish: Då som jag hadde aldrig tecknad får drog jag upp för honom den-andra av dem två teckningarna som jag var för att göra: teckningen av pytonormen utifrån.which I might render into sort-of-English as: Then as I had ever drawn sheep pulled I up for him the-second of the two drawings which I was able-to make: the-drawing of the-python from-outside.I recalled that there was a sentence something like this near the eginning of tory: it all made sense.How does it work?
I see a word I do n't worry, and I kno of some words it could be: aðra to a Swedish-speaker first looks like ådra, " vein ", and you only later think of andra, " second ".
As I 'm sure many language geeks will attest, it is such a weird and interesting feeling to find sense emerging from words which initially looked like gibberish!
First, I fel it ould e this good exercise to try copying out the text of Litli prinsinn: this would force me to look carefully at every letter, and also give me a machine-readable version that I could analyse.
When I look at words occurring two or three times, I start to feel uncertain, but I till fee I now the majority of them.
he 1600 words which only occur once are of course the hardest; but even here I feel I can guess a lot, perhaps a third to a half of them.Copying out the text has sharpened my understanding of the grammar a good deal, and ow I recognise quite a few endings.
For xample, let 's look at the page for stjörnu, which occurs 15 times: I see that occurrences of stjörnu usually come after a preposition.
It now creates a hyperlinked version of the original text, with the words colour-marked to show how frequently they occurred in the text you 've read so far.
The-visit there was very? short, but it filled the-little prince much? depression) Black words like hnettinum ( " planet ", I fee in the dative) and mjög ( " very ") are quite familiar, and I am reasonably sur that I 've guessed the green and blue ones correctly.
But it feels motivating to think hat, as I copy out more text and process it through the script, the red tide should start to recede ... [ To Ævintýri Lísu í Undralandi ]