≡ Menu

With love from Aye-ya fyah-dla jow-kudl

Here’s a little video that has been making the rounds today and which I think is brilliant. I must say I’m quite impressed by some of the foreign pronunciations of Aye-ya fyah-dla jow-kudl [aka Eyjafjallajökull].

If anyone is interested, Eyjafjallajökull literally means “the glacier of the island mountains”. Eyja [island] fjalla [mountains’] jökull [glacier].

Meanwhile, some people just have no scruples. There were two comments posted earlier with the following message:

Need help
I was asked to post it request for help.
– Hello. We are a small child stuck in the airport because of the volcanic eruption. No money for a hotel. When open flights is unknown.
Help please.

Thank you.

I shall refrain from posting the link to the site because I don’t want to give these clowns the satisfaction of getting traffic, but suffice it to say that they have a picture up of some airport waiting line [NOT an airport in Iceland, I hasten to say] plus a DONATE button. Now just in case anyone is tempted to take pity on these “small child stuck in an airport,” please consider that the airlines are obliged to provide passengers with accommodation and even meals [although I’m not totally clear on the rules for meals — but definitely a hotel] — so this exercise is clearly a scam.

Come to think of it, maybe I should email them [the4gamblers@gmail.com — no, I am not making this up] and tell them I’m heading over with some warm blankets and a thermos of coffee. If they could kindly meet me in the arrivals hall.

ADDENDUM – Peterrrr just left this link in the comments and it’s hilarious — the journalist goes out in Times Square and tries to get people to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull. Too funny!!



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • PeterRRRRR April 16, 2010, 11:58 pm
  • sigga April 17, 2010, 12:00 am

    Love it!!! had actually been wondering what sort of pronounciations would abound!

  • alda April 17, 2010, 12:31 am

    Peterrrr – THANK YOU for that link, it’s hilarious! Must post that one too. 🙂

  • Jon B April 17, 2010, 1:13 am

    I’ve been to Iceland, I find the Icelandic language pretty interesting, I’d like to think know roughly what I’m *supposed* to be pronouncing, and if I take the word “Eyjafjallajökull” at half speed I can get somewhere vaguely in the right area (I think). But really, for an English speaker with no experience of Icelandic, the whole “ll” thing is going to lead to nowhere except a comedy mispronounciation. And boy have there been some.

    But I think I have more respect for the people who’ve tried to say it and failed than for those who’ve bottled out and called it “the volcano in Iceland”, because obviously, there’s only one volcano in Iceland.

    Strangely the press seem keener to talk about Katla and Hekla, can’t think why…

  • Max April 17, 2010, 1:15 am

    I tweeted about this earlier and The Guardian was kind enough to use my tweet in their liveblog of the situation. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/apr/16/volcano-ash-airspace-flights-iceland (scroll to 1.46pm) 🙂

  • Tony Skaggs April 17, 2010, 1:23 am

    I was stranded a year and a half ago on a flight from JFK to Frankfurt at Keflavik after an unavoidable flight delay. Icelandair sent me to a VERY nice hotel in Keflavik town for the night and gave me meal and taxi vouchers. It was all extremely professionally handled 🙂

  • Karol W. April 17, 2010, 3:13 am


    Yes, these attempts at pronuciation are funny, but only to the Nicelanders. You DO have a pretty hermetic, unique language, after all. I have some knowledge of Norsk but I find it useless when staring at an Icelandic toilet door where it says “karlar”.

    After realising that it means “men”, I could see the connection: karl – Karl die Grosse/Charlemagne – Charles – krol (king in Polish), Karol (in Polish) – Karel (in Czech) – korol (king in Russian), etc. After all, words did travel over the centuries.

    Any expectation as to how long will the volcano-with-a-dificult-name be active? I understand that Icelandic kids are taught the basics of seismology at high school.

  • Cassie April 17, 2010, 3:18 am

    I’ve been enjoying this quite a bit, to tell the truth. (And I really can’t for the life of me say it correctly.) I’m just sorry that Iceland is getting blamed for yet another fiasco.

  • The Fred from the forums April 17, 2010, 5:12 am

    Wikipedia’s article on Eyjafjallajökull has an audio file with a pronunciation. I’d love to hear whether native speakers here agree with it.

    If I tried to read out one of the phonetic spellings I’ve seen on the web, it wouldn’t sound much like that file.

    “Becca” from the consulate makes it sound like what you’d get sounding it out with one of those pronunciation guides:

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland April 17, 2010, 8:44 am

    Very interesting last time you caused the french revolution with your volcanoes this time it may just merely close down the airline industry, what happens if it keeps going for 2 years ?. The name of that volcano ,well those newsreaders do better than me I just stare at the words, however Hekla yes I can say that. It only has to go one for a month or so to eclipse Icesave in cash terms, very impressive though wish I was there to see it.

  • James April 17, 2010, 8:48 am

    Even after you hear it pronounced properly by the Icelander in the YouTube video, it’s still impossible to copy those sounds!

  • Joerg April 17, 2010, 9:50 am

    The mentioned comment is definitely a scam, that’s for sure. I’m not so sure about the obligation of airlines to provide hotel accommodation, if the airport has officially been closed down. The airlines often do it as a gesture of goodwill. In Frankfurt more than thousand cots have been put up to cater for the stranded. It must be particularly annoying for people, who are in transit and don’t have an entry visa.

    I think Icelandair might consider to revise their policy of naming planes after Icelandic volcanoes. This could evoke unwanted associations.

  • hassan April 17, 2010, 10:38 am

    Alda, can you explain why it’s so funny that people can’t pronounce Icelandic words correctly.

  • Rik Hardy April 17, 2010, 11:30 am

    I can just imagine a private reaction from Gordon Brown:
    “Well don’t you think it’s a bit much to have a word with a million syllables in it, when “glacier” would do just fine? Going beyond that is just plain indecent, and life’s really too short.
    Besides, Eyjafjallajökull yourself.”

    I think the finer points of our culture will always elude the Brits…

  • hildigunnur April 17, 2010, 11:42 am

    hahaha “Hey, ya fergot La Yogurt” lol!

  • Richard April 17, 2010, 12:19 pm

    Hassan I think it´s the wide variety of interpretations. If it was just a single type of mangling of the word it wouldn´t be as funny, but the range is. No one expects anyone to know it, so it´s interesting to see the different attempts. And let´s face it some of those Brit newscasters obviously start pronouncing the word with no idea how to finish it…

  • James April 17, 2010, 1:13 pm
  • Ahto April 17, 2010, 2:37 pm

    Just found this comment from Slashdot:

    Dear Iceland,

    We said “send CASH”.

    Yours sincerely,
    United Kingdom

  • Joerg April 17, 2010, 3:47 pm

    I think, it’s funny because it sounds funny. In Germany the media come up with equally creative interpretations, although many get around by addressing it as THE Icelandic volcano. And even if I try hard, it doesn’t sound like the real thing.

    Next time, just let Hekla, Katla or Askja explode to spare the world this embarrassing pronunciation procedure. 😉

    The volcano is providing us in Germany with a cloudless day without a single condensation trail from airplanes – just some yellow haze at the distance. It must be very interesting for scientists, who are studying the impact of aviation on the climate.

    BTW: The “face of the eruption”, mentioned in one of yesterday’s posts, made it to the title page of the most widely read yellow press in Germany. It was just too tempting for them to utilize it’s fear-mongering potential.

  • Rik Hardy April 17, 2010, 4:24 pm

    I heard that the misunderstanding about “Send us CASH” arose from the fact that there isn’t a “C” in the Icelandic alphabet…

  • Michael April 17, 2010, 4:52 pm

    More often than not, I read something like “the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjalla”. So the media seem to have figured out that “jökull” means “glacier”, but not that “fjalla” is a genitive which in this case requires some element to follow it…

  • Mike April 17, 2010, 6:18 pm

    Hi folks,

    Another update on what the hell is going on at the mountain which scares anyone with an autocue.

    The Icelandic Met Office is heading up to the volcano today to try and see how much meltwater has accumulated in and around the vent. They’re obviously concerned because this water needs to go somewhere and it can either come down the mountain and cause flooding, or go into the vent to cause further explosions which will release ash. If you watch the time-lapse here:


    the volcano appears to be puffing rather than erupting continuously, and that might be down to water and ice hitting the magma in the vent.

    The chemistry of the ash which has been recovered so far suggests the volcano doesn’t need any help creating more explosions. The ash has a composition somewhere between two types of rock called andesite and dacite. For those who’ve stuck through my previous comments, this means the magma being erupted is at the stickier, explosive end of things. Rather than flowing out of the mountain, it comes up, explodes and turns to ash.

    Karol W. asked how long this will go on for. Well any good geologist will turn to their thick pile of books and papers, think back to their petrology lectures and the hours spent chipping rocks out of cliffs and peering down microscopes and then, with all consideration – shrug.



    This explosive phase of the eruption will *probably* last days rather than weeks. As the supply of old, sticky magma dwindles and the gas comes out of the magma the eruption will stop being so explosive. Activity in and around the mountain will most probably go on for months, even years if lava emerges; but these will be purely local and not have any international effects.

    The last eruption in 1821-23 had two major explosive episodes separated by a long period of relative good behaviour. So even if the volcano does seem to be quietening down it might just be resting.

    The plume which has now deposited ash as far south as the Thames Valley will gradually fade away as the ash eruption comes to an end. More than likely it will stop interfering with flights in the next week or so as the weather over Western Europe returns to normal. At the moment there is high pressure over the UK and Scandinavia which is drawing weather from Iceland. As this disappears, winds will become south westerly and blow the remaining plume north into the Arctic.

    Speaking of weather, if you want an awesome photo – how about lightning in the ash cloud:


    Seismic activity seems to be down a little around the mountain, although (interestingly) there has been a completely unconnected little burst of earthquakes just south-east of Grímsey in the far north:


    All flights are still grounded in the UK and some economists are even predicting this could knock some parts of the economy back into recession. In which case – Iceland, you win.

    But to put the whole thing in perspective. A report came out this week from insurers who have estimated the effects of Vesuvius’ next, (overdue) eruption. $24 billion in immediate property damage and 8000 people killed.


  • skugga April 17, 2010, 8:16 pm

    Now that german TV hast almost made it to a quite correct pronounciation of “Eyjafjallajökull” let’s hope that nothing spectacular may happen up in Eyvindastaðaheiði… 😉

  • Schnee April 17, 2010, 8:47 pm

    Alda, have you seen this one?


    I think it’s the best news report on the whole thing yet. 😉

  • Mike April 18, 2010, 1:46 am

    Hi folks,

    This is turning out to be one of the most telegenic volcanoes in a long time. The vulcanologists at strombolionline (named after an Italian volcano you can walk up and watch erupt every night) have put up some amazing photos of the lightning in the ash cloud over Eyjafjallajökull. It’s like the end of the World – no wonder we have Iceland to thank for stories of Ragnarok:



  • alda April 18, 2010, 1:52 am

    Thanks for the link, Mike. Some of those photos have been making the rounds here and I agree, they’re very impressive.

  • Juju April 18, 2010, 10:53 pm

    There’s a discussion going on over at languagelog about Icelandic language (inspired by current events of course). Any natives who would want to participate and answer some questions? Takk!