föstudagur, desember 08, 2006

"next friday"

I got an invitation last Wednesday, the 29th, to a big-time Christmas feast put on by my future employer. I was very excited, as it would be a good chance to meet all the peeps at the new job. Plus it would be plates and plates of smoked puffin, and who doesn't like that? Not to mention the likely probability of free wine, which is a bit like a handout of gold bars here in the Land.

So, the invitation email said "næsta föstudag" which translates directly as "next Friday". I put the event in my calendar for tonight and mentioned to a future coworker today that I'd see him tonight.

"I won't be around tonight, I have to pick up my son," he replied.

"That's funny," I thought, and asked him about the Christmas throwdown.

"Oh, that was last week!" he said. "It was a really great time!"

Oooooops. I had learned and then promptly forgotten this subtle difference of timekeeping between Icelandic and English. The languages are so close in so many ways that it's easy to forget the glaring contextual differences: "Next Friday" in Icelandic means, "The Friday that's about to come." Not, "The Friday after this weekend." I won't forget it again. But meantime I'll be at home tonight, crying into my smoked puffin.

11 Comments:

Blogger Little Miss Loopy said...

Hey, I'm in need of beer tonight but am left without partners to drink said beer with. I may not have smoked puffin but I myself am smashing ;) Or if you really need something to munch on I could bring some dried fish. If you fancy it, send me a text.

8.12.06  
Blogger Mindy said...

Do you really eat those adorable little birds? I don't think we can be blogfriends anymore...

8.12.06  
Blogger keith_hayward said...

Hæ hæ,

You'll be pleased to hear I found your blog.

You might be interested to know that in 'proper' English ;) next friday also means the one coming up.

Beer tonight?

8.12.06  
Blogger Jade said...

Hmm, that sucks.

I get confused myself whenever people talk about 'Next ___day'.. I often have to ask for a clarification.

8.12.06  
Blogger Farbror Willy said...

This was also an issue when I lived in Sweden, "nästa fredag" vs. "nu på fredag". Of course I refused to adapt to their twisted way of thinking and used these phrases the Icelandic way, probably leading to some misunderstandings like you had.

9.12.06  
Blogger dtw said...

That indeed sucks.

And like the previous comments suggest, this might just be one of the most difficult matters concerning human understanding and communication! It ain't even just between different cultures, but inside said languages too.

This is something you have to make sure all the time when dealing with people, since in Finnish people use such phrases in different ways. Like in your case, "ensi perjantaina" (next friday) is especially tricky. Some people, like myself, use that to refer to the one coming up. Some mean the friday on the following week.

Now learned to mostly use "tänä perjantaina" (this friday) if I mean the one coming up. "Next friday" is too confusing. Sadly, I think I'm in the minority of next friday users with my way. I refuse to go mainstream, since I obviously think that my habit makes a lot more sense.

Tänä perjantaina and seuraavana perjantaina for great justice!

9.12.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

to quote Nelson:

"haaahaa!"

10.12.06  
Blogger videlectrix said...

There is a line beyond which the "next" would be obvious, and before which it would be nebulous. I think on Wednesday afternoon, "next friday" is 9 days away. But on Sunday, next Friday is either 5 or 12 days away.

People often say "this coming ___day" if they mean the immediate one. I think we need a new word to delineate this in some languages.

11.12.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I agree with Videlectrix about lines, but would contend that in British English, on Sunday "next Friday" means five days away, not 12.

11.12.06  
Blogger howdoyoulikeiceland said...

Mmmm puffin! Really have to try that sometime. Is it worth tracking down?

22.12.06  
Blogger JB said...

Sure, but you really do have to "track it down" with a special net, out on the Westman Islands.

27.12.06  

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