Thursday, 24 January 2013

Snyrt, Snyrt: Landnámssýningin

We have been privileged enough to have had a fair amount of time to spare for toilet blogging lately; however, that's about to change. Let's squeeze in a lovely toilet while we have the leisure to devote ourselves to beauty as opposed to utility. Here are the toilets at one of our favourite museums ever, the Landnámssýningin (Settlement Exhibition) in Reykjavík! The Settlement Exhibition displays a building and artefacts from the very earliest Scandinavian settlement on Iceland (Semi-Intellectual Friend will tell us all about the Irish monks, who possibly got to Iceland before the marauding Vikings, another time).

The funky lime-green colour reminds us of the Sotano bar in York - hurrah!

Mixer tap, stylishness and paper towels - one shivers with delight!

One almost explodes with joy at the sight of these coat-hooks.
(N.b. The lime-green colour was much cooler in the flesh.)
 Sod it, we might as well indulge in some linguistic musings as well, while we're at it. We've been pondering the Icelandic word for toilet, snyrting, for some time. To us it sounds insanely comical, but of course language policy in Iceland is a dead serious business. Icelanders tend to be stark raving purists when it comes to their language, for which we usually applaud them; if they don't have a word for something they will invent one rather than import a bastardising foreign one. One source tells us that none other than Sigurður Nordal invented the word snyrting. According to the Cleasby-Vigfússon Old Icelandic dictionary, snyrta means "to trim". We asked our eminent Intellectual Friend for a learned opinion, and got the following answer:
Snyrt, snyrt indeed!!!
Well, these are very amusing/intriguing bits of etymologies. Nordal's snyrting is quite a powerful idea. In addition to
snyrta, there was the poetic word snyrtir, a sword-name, meaning either "the trimmer" or, if passive, "the trimmed" by reference to the sword-making/sharpening process (same source as above: "snyrtir, m. a polisher, Lex. Poët.: the name of a sword, Saxo", ed.'s note). Apparently employing the one-thing-leads-to-another method, Jóhannesson went and linked snyrta to 'snort' via dialectal Swedish snärt, 'fart', which is probably shaky but quite cool.
 While we're usually wildly in favour of consulting Jóhannesson, we take the liberty of positing the idea that he was talking out of his distinguished hat on this occasion. Other than that, we're not sure we feel a whole lot wiser, but at least we have had the joy of contemplating some beautiful toilets and some linguistic musings.

Related Reading
Quickly, Before We Sober Up: Icelandic Nostalgia

Power Trip: Hellisheiðarvirkjun

1 comment:

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