fimmtudagur, júní 22, 2006

love/marriage/baby carriage

One cultural difference that just comes right out and slaps a young guy in the face is the nature of the Serious Relationship Question. I have a lot of friends and relatives in the States who are fond of asking variations on the theme, "When are you going to pop the question?" Any time I mention that E and I are, say, taking a weekend trip to Paris (not all that uncommon from Iceland) it's inevitable that I'll hear from those Stateside, "Oooh, so you're going to make an honest woman out of her!" Americans, even those who consider themselves progressive, do seem to take the whole "living in sin" idea fairly seriously.

Meanwhile Icelanders have a whole different agenda. Marriage just isn't as big of a deal here. Sure, some people are married. But many live happily and successfully together as couples and never get married. Some get married as a way to celebrate being together in a relationship for a long while. Icelanders use the word maki (spouse) in the sense of any couple who cohabitates, irregardless of their standing in the Eyes of the Lord.

So the Serious Relationship Question here is totally different. Here in the Land it's: "So when are you two going to start having babies?" We both get that one a lot. At least this is perceived to be a joint decision, so we get to share in the brush-off burden. One of my coworkers told me after I'd been here maybe six months, "You know, you aren't getting your tax money's worth if you don't pop out a couple of kids. It's the Scandinavian way."

Meanwhile, continuing the theme of names of things I can see around me as I write, the Icelandic word for grass is gras. Crazy, I know. They both come from proto-Germanic, the Big Daddy Ancestor language of all the Germanic languages, Icelandic and English included. The word grass comes from "that which grows" and is also related to the word green, which is grænn in Icelandic.


Blogger Unknown said...

Okay. What's the deal with this "irregardless" business?

Blogger JB said...

A little tribute to my homies in the 617... and it's a great word, irregahdless...

Blogger ECS said...

that's "irregahdless" to you, as a Bostonian.

Blogger jdk said...

lol - I just made a new guy in the office promise to only use "irregahdless" going forward. And so I hear him use it to the big boss who responsds "um, isn't the word regardless" to which new guy responds "Josh told me to only use irregardless." I love it.

Blogger Paul said...

tribute accepted ;-)

did you write about this topic once before?


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