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New made-up Icelandic words in Reykjavík

We celebrated the launch of the library's co-created Icelandic dictionary with an open mic event where people could share their new words to a live audience, and we collected precious new words such as: glápamaður, lærleggssmíð, blundtakki, ómjólk, samkenndarfötlun, þagnarskuld, glundró, skásystkin, tvíheima , brjálæðisvíma, vindhviðasnarpur, fagraorðaþoka, steinþögull, draumljóð, ostfangin, minnihlutahópastress, spenntóttabið, eftirmorgunskvíði, þægindablaðra, sólarleyfi, neyslufall, lýðræðishetjuskapur, snortinleiki, tárahik and kvárföt.   

As we evolve as a society, language evolves with us, and new terms are necessary to have the conversations we want to have in an ever-changing reality.  

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Among the authors of new made-up Icelandic words were Bára Halldórsdóttir, Francesca Cricelli, Hannah Rós Sigurðardóttir Tobin, Jakub Stachowiak, Mao Alheimsdóttir and Sólveig Ásta Sigurðardóttir. Mao and Jakub in early morning on the day of the event to set up the space so that it would become a place that gave the right feeling for both the authors and audience. They worked with references to classrooms both in Iceland and in Polland, for example by placing a single plant that was often seen in classrooms in Poland earlier and next to it was a white board to teach us new made-up words. Participants as well as those attending the event were invited to write their words on the board and add the made-up words on a classic yellow post-it to the collection of the new dictionary. Those who contributed during the open mic session were Vaida Bražiūnaitė, Momo Hayashi, Hafsteinn and others that chose not to state their name.  

A recording of the readings in Icelandic on the 16th of November is accessible on the podcast channel of the library: Búum til ný íslensk orð

Fólk á viðburði

The forms of the readings were diverse. Mao began the event by speaking in a teacher's manner and asked all those prerent to stand up and repeat her words out loud as one choir. Jakub read four of his poems giving his new words a meaning. Hannah Rós told a story about a certain lived experience where she would have liked to have her new word used to describe a way of life or a way of being in a positive way. Francesca and Sólveig Ásta presented their words in a more traditional way with a definition ready to be included in the new co-created dictionary while Bára did a poetry slam with references to common replies and citations to a well-known popsong most relate to and weaving into it it experiences of othering and exposing a lack of compassion and understanding of specific basic needs. Both staff and guests stepped out of their comfort zone (þægindarblaðra) and made the heroic decision voice their ideas at the democratic platform (lýðræðishetjuskapur) of the library. Once of the presenters invited others to co-create a word in Icelandic that could be more inclusive than a foreigner (útlendingur) or an immigrant (innflytjandi), a word that would recognize that people belong to different places simultaneously and feel at home in both or all places, like the word bilingual (tvítyngi) a similar more inclusive word could be made-up that referrs to having more homes and belonging to different places simultaneously (tvíbúi/tvíheima).

In promoting the event the library emphasized the fact that the demography of the local population is changing. As we evolve as a society, language evolves with us, and new terms are necessary to have the conversations we want to have in an ever-changing reality.  The day of the Icelandic language was used an opportunity to gather people to co-create what people share, the language just like the public space of the library. The project manager for civic participation discussed idea behind this event in an interview with Þorgeir Ástvaldson for the afternoon radio program Reykjavík síðdegis on the 15th of November 2023 : Leitað að nýjum íslenskum orðum 

This event was the library´s contribution to the project Community Co-creation that explores the possible impact of art methods in working with immigrant communities and how libraries and cultural centers could be the places of encounters for such activities. Next year regular events will be organized that encourage future making up of new words around specific topics.  The frame around these cultural activities is a new co-created Icelandic dictionary of made-up words that invites the public to contribute with their own words. 


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Further information
Dögg Sigmarsdóttir
Project manager | Civic Participation

UppfærtMiðvikudagur, 20. desember, 2023 12:14