Friday, May 30, 2014

Week Four: An Eyjafjallajökull Story

Do you remember Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused all sorts of aviation problems? Before my husband and I went to Iceland last summer, a friend asked if we would find someone who could pronounce it for us. I finally talked to a friendly waiter at Lækjarbrekka who allowed me to interview him so we could get the correct pronunciation. (On a side note, we specifically went to this restaurant because we wanted to try Hákarl (fermented shark), an Icelandic delicacy.

listen to ‘How Do You Pronounce "Eyjafjallajökull"?’ on Audioboo

My friend had wanted to hear how one actually pronounces Eyjafjallajökull if for no other reason than because it was such an exotic and difficult sounding word; when the volcano erupted, I remember reading a lot of news stories online but had no earthly idea how to even go about pronouncing it. (I have never found pronunciation guides helpful.)

I had gone to Iceland before I knew I would be taking a class on the rhetorics of travel writing; I hadn't yet even begun classes for the graduate program in which I had been accepted (I would start that fall). This particular interview does perhaps not entirely fulfill the requirements of talking to at least one person (preferably several) whose stories converge and relate to the concept of multiple stories. Yet I remember the waiter knowing exactly what I was talking about when I referred to the eruption and was almost blasé about its consequences. Of course, this was also two years after the fact, and whether it would have affected him anyway was another story; in hindsight, there are all sorts of questions I wish I had asked. What attracted me at least in part to Iceland was the linguistic impenetrability, which in and of itself was almost enough of a reason to want to go there. I knew almost nothing about Iceland before we went, aside from the what turned out to be correct assumptions about the plethora of Vikings.

I want to do some more thinking about the authority and narrative divergence of those who present multiple stories; this will be the subject of my next blog post in a few days, as well as a reaction to some of the week's readings.

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