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Icelandic: snuddar

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by MtnGirl, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Sæl, I am reading a poem about Strandir að vetri (the coasts in winter), and the last stanza is really tripping me up because of the word snuddar:

    Bjarndýr snuddar í snjó/ nær síðasta jaka/ til baka

    A polar bear [snuddar] in snow/ near (where) the last snowflake/ returns (or falls) ??
    I’m used to “til baka” being an adverb, but there’s no verb here (snara’s synonyms for jaka includes “á sjó eða vötnum, mismunandi að stærð og lögun” which I take to be snow of varing shapes and sizes, i.e. snowflakes), but I might be completely wrong on everything.

    And snuddar…is it a noun, from snuddi? If so, Snara’s definition of “horn (til að halda um) á pokaopi sem saumað hefur verið fyrir” makes no sense to me. I’m leaning toward “sniffing” because a synonym is vera með nefið niðri í and þefa but I’m pretty sure snuddar is a noun and not a verb.

    Ay! Any help would be great. Takk!
     
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hi there!

    So, you've checked Snara? I can see an entry for snudda.
    As for jaka, think about what it could be in the nominative (try searching for jaki :p ).
    It is related to jökull, a word I'm sure you already know.
     
  3. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Quick translation: A polar bear prowls in the snow / closer to the last iceberg / back.

    What dictionary are you using, if you don't mind me asking? Even what I would consider the least comprehensive online dictionary has entries for snudda and jaki and nær. Like Alex said, remember that nouns change their form, so if it's in a position that looks like it should be a noun (i.e. after an adjective like síðasta) and it's not a nominative position, remember to work back to what the nominative form would be. And if you have a noun (i.e. bjarndýr), a verb is far far more likely to follow than another noun. How could it make sense grammatically to have two nouns in a row when it clearly isn't a list? A noun noun in a noun? You can easily see that one of these words has to be a verb for any meaning to exist at all. Icelandic sentence structure is not that different from English. Remember also that nær is a comparative.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
  4. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Wow, I'm really overthinking this. Yes, Alxmrphi, I do know jökull! I don't know why I got stuck on snuddi rather than seeing snudda right there in the dictionary. I see it plain as day now. Thank you so much for your reminder, Silver, that -a endings don't always mean "it's a verb!" How did you catch on to my odd line of thinking there? haha.

    Let's see, I'm using Snara right now--a switch from what I used to scour, this Cleasby website here: http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/texts/oi_cleasbyvigfusson_about.html, but I'm embarrassingly ignorant on word endings and conjugations--still getting used to it. Not sure why I was only looking in the íslensk orðabók and then translate the definition instead of just putting my entry into the íslensk-ensk section. Please don't laugh at me here--I'm new to this!

    And many, many thanks to the both of you.
     
  5. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    There aren't that many people who understand just how tricky it can be to navigate all the tools and quirks of this language from a native-speaking English background, but we are another two, so can very much understand the winding paths of confusion that turn out later to be so obvious once the right answer has been found. You do pick some pretty hefty texts to analyse as a beginner - that's quite impressive! I had wondered if you were using the Icelandic-only section of the dictionary rather than the English one, but now you know how to use it then that's another problem sorted. Keep up the good work! ;)
     
  6. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Thank you for the reassurance. I'm a writer by profession--poetry is my main interest. So I stumbled into some hefty content that way.

    Again, I appreciate you two a whole lot. And Gavril, who is quite helpful and introduced me to Snara in the first place over in another thread.
     
  7. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    No, the word nær is the 3rd person singular of the verb . The meaning is therefore: “…catches the last iceberg back” (although the rhyme is lost).
     
  8. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Segorian, thanks for the insight. That makes that last line til baka make complete sense. Takk fyrir!
     
  9. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Of course! Haha, clearly too quick. Apologies for that.
     
  10. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    It is perhaps worth mentioning that Strandir is part of the region in northwest Iceland where polar bears are most likely to come ashore. The animals arrive on sea ice from Greenland that drifts past the West Fjords before entering calmer waters in Húnaflói (and sometimes other fjords further to the east). If the ice reaches shore, the bears—usually starved—start roaming about in search of food.
     
  11. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Oh my goodness! Very cool and insightful fact. Takk fyrir, Segorian!
     
  12. basslop

    basslop Senior Member

    Norway
    Norwegian
    Snuddar = prowl. If I am not mistaken "Snuddar" in Swedish means almost the same.
     
  13. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    Well, not exactly. The most frequent meaning in Swedish is “touch lightly”.
     
  14. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    I might add that as sea ice has become much less frequent around Iceland in later years (due to warmer weather), polar bear sightings are rare nowadays. Visits by polar bears were much more frequent during the cold period between the 15th and the 19th centuries. For example, some 70 animals were sighted in 1881, but only a few dozen after 1920, and a handful in the 21st century. Most recently, two polar bears came to Iceland in 2008, one in 2010, and one in 2011. All were shot because of a perceived risk to humans. These might well prove to be the last polar bear sightings in Iceland for many years.

    Another piece of trivia is that since polar bears are no longer seen as posing an imminent threat to the lives of people in Iceland, being named Ísbjörn has become acceptable. Two people in Iceland are called Ísbjörn. (As I’m sure you know, using words for animals as given names is common in Iceland.)
     
  15. MtnGirl Junior Member

    East Coast, USA
    US English
    Ah! So that is why it is siðasta jaka! The last iceberg--very likely the last iceberg ísbjörn could catch. Very, very interesting history there. Takk fyrir.
     

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