What I actually wanted was my very own personal words that no one would understand. Given the luck we had with being understood in Iceland, even the Icelanders would not know I was really swearing. On the few instances that we managed to get out a few words, the people with us looked at us blankly.
My real triumph in Icelandic is my ability to pronounce the name of the volcano that news readers stumbled over a couple of years ago. Many places in Iceland are named after the physical location. Vic means bay. Fjordur means fjord. Jokull means glacier. I have not trained my computer to use all the proper Icelandic letters.
Icelandic is an inflected language, so like Latin I would have to learn word endings for every case, gender, person and tense.
But if I learned a few good swear words, well, I would have something I could offer in polite society without being looked upon as having a foul mouth.
I was surprised how easy it was to find Icelandic swear words on the internet.
I am particularly fond of the idioms. My current favorite is raggeit which (I hope) means cowardly as a goat.
Why this sudden urge to master even this tiny part of a language I know I can never make my own? My father was part of the American army that took over control of the island when the British left in 1941. The Icelanders have not forgiven us, but they are very friendly and welcoming, none the less. My mother went up in the 1970s with some of his buddies on an anniversary trip. My niece and I went up in the early 90s and we too loved it.
When I came back I started reading Icelandic fiction. First an anthology of grim but often funny short stories. We brought home an English edition of North of the War, a novel about life in Iceland during the occupation. Then I discovered Arnaldur Indridason, who wrote a series of police procedurals. When I had exhausted them, I found Yrsa Sigurdardottir.
This year at Malice, I met her. There are a lot of reasons I attend, but meeting Yrsa was top on this year's list.
Malice Domestic is a conference geared to fans so they can meet their favorite authors. The list of authors I have met there is impressive. Now I go as an author. But no matter how much one has published, we are all still fans. We all have our favorite authors who may now be our friends.
So if you want to be a writer but have a hard time getting started, or if like me, you don't submit often enough: raggeit to you.