A Hurricane Called “English” Is Sweeping Across Iceland – Bubbi

Bubbi Morthens

In an op-ed in Morgunblaðið yesterday, musician Bubbi Morthens criticised the government, the tourism industry, and restaurateurs for pandering to English speakers. It was one thing for the tourism industry to make a profit, Bubbi observed, but another to wage war against the Icelandic language.

A hurricane called “English”

“A hurricane called English is sweeping across the country and uprooting our language,” musician Bubbi Morthens wrote in an article published in Morgunblaðið yesterday.

In the article – which is entitled The War on Language, in reference to an article authored by Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness, the War on Nature (wherein the latter criticised the government’s plans for the construction of power plants) – Bubbi criticised the growing influence of the English language within Icelandic society.

Reykjavík, he noted, was filled with English signage, restaurants opted for English as their first language, and local interest groups had begun to write letters to the government in the English language.

Roll up your sleeves

While encouraging the tourism industry to “grab a hold of itself,” Bubbi also urged the government, members of parliament, and artists to roll up their sleeves: “We’ve come to a point where all of us who live here have to ask ourselves: Do we want to speak Icelandic? Do we want to read Icelandic? Do we want to sing our Icelandic songs with all the words that we understand with our heart and soul?”

According to Bubbi, if the answer is “yes,” people could no longer sit idly by; the time had come to fight for the mother tongue. “Government of Iceland, parliamentarians of our country, artists, all citizens, wherever we may find ourselves: let’s get a hold of ourselves.”

Bubbi also noted that the tourism industry had to take action. Making a profit was one thing, but waging a war against the Icelandic language was quite another: “Without our language, we are nothing but a fine-natured rock in the North Atlantic. As opposed to an independent nation residing in its own country.”

Everyone welcome

As noted by Vísir, Bubbi concluded his op-ed by clarifying that “everyone was welcome” in Iceland. “The people who want to live in Iceland enrich our country and our culture, but it is important to help them by teaching them to speak our language.”

“Icelandic is the glue that binds us all together, our mother, our father, in fact, our higher power. In Icelandic ‘you can always find an answer,’ the poet observed – and we must, now later than now, find an answer to this war against our mother tongue. Our lifeline. We must all as one, put our foot down and take a stand in defence of our language.”

Do hurricanes ever hit Iceland?

Waves crashing over Reykjavík lighthouse

The short answer is no. However, the remnants of hurricanes do occasionally make their way up to Iceland. For the most part, by the time they arrive in Iceland, they’re reduced to pressure systems that just bring larger-than-average amounts of rain, but they do sometimes cause more damage. Hurricanes form in unstable air over open […]

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Temperatures on the Rise in East Iceland

Temperatures may reach as high as 20°C [68° F] in East Iceland today, RÚV reports, although rain will continue as per usual in the south and west today. Later in the week the national forecast is more uncertain, however, as Hurricane Chris, which is currently just off the eastern coast of the United States, may have an effect on weather patterns here.

South and West Iceland are expected to have rain on Friday as well, while the partially sunny, and comparatively warm weather will continue in the east. Saturday will probably see rain all over the country, but then the forecast becomes a little less clear.

“Forecasts are now suggesting that the remnants of the hurricane will reach the coast of Iceland on Sunday, but it’s uncertain whether [the storm] will land on the south or east coast,” explained a meteorologist who spoke with RÚV about the forecast.

It is not definite that Chris will make it up to Iceland at all, but if it does, it probably will not create much out-of-the-ordinary weather here, simply a lot of rain and strong winds.