I’ve posted about my dogs before, and just in case it wasn’t evident, I am a big dog geek. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ve already met Ása, who is a 1 year old Norwegian Elkhound. Then not even a month ago, we were joined by Þórný the Icelandic Sheepdog puppy, and now you know that yes, I am that much of a nerd that I even got dogs that would be appropriate for my persona. It doesn’t hurt that both breeds fall right in line with the type of dog my husband and I like. Before these two, we had an Akita, and all three of these breeds are in the spitz/northern category. We likes our pointy ears, curly tails and double coats, that’s for sure.
Anyways, there’s definitely some information out there about the dogs in Iceland during the Viking period, and I’m working on some documentation on that. I can tell you that Icelandic sheepdogs were absolutely around during the Viking period in Iceland, and they were very likely veeeeery similar in appearance to how they are today, but I don’t have the documentation to prove it… yet. That is absolutely coming in the future. There’s many references to dogs in the Sagas, though, and there’s actually also a reference to an “Iceland dog” in one of Shakespeare’s plays! It may actually be Macbeth, but I can’t quite remember. I’ll have to look that up again. Of course, having studied a few of Shakespeare’s plays in school, he may be using that as a euphemism for something else. And Shakespeare is way past the Viking era… but it’s still very period for the SCA in general.
Despite knowing that there WERE dogs in Iceland during the Viking period, I have serious doubts that I’d be able to find any info on whether they were trained, how they were trained, etc. I’ve heard that there’s been evidence of leather strips being used to collar and leash them, but need to dig up that info for myself still. But I decided that regardless of what evidence is out there, I’m going to train MY dogs in both English AND Icelandic just for fun and geekery. So with that in mind, I set about researching the right words for the Icelandic commands. I’ve been studying the Icelandic language for almost two months now, and I know enough to know that very little is an exact translation of the English version of something, because Icelandic grammar is quite different, I didn’t want to just use Google Translate to help me with the commands. I first posted on the Icelandic Sheepdog group on Facebook, since there’s plenty of Icelandic folks on there, and got a bit of advice, but I also got the suggestion to reach out to Galleri Voff – Hundaskóli (I haven’t translated that last word, but how much do you want to bet that it means “dog school”? ) so I went over to their Facebook page and sent Ásta a message. She was super fast with responding and super helpful. Major thanks to her for her help!
Anyhow, on to the language lesson! First off, the word for dog is “hund”. If you want to say THE dog, it’s “hundurinn”. Dogs plural is “hundar”. Puppy is “hvolpur”, the puppy is “hvolpurinn”, and puppies is “hvolpar”. Icelandic Sheepdog is “Íslenskur Fjarhundur”, and Norwegian Elkhound, well… in Norwegian, it’s “norsk elghund”, and I suspect it’s probably the same in Icelandic. It might be Norsku Elghund… I need to check with my friends and I’ll update this when I do.
Here’s what I’m going to be using in terms of Icelandic commands. The pronunciations are in the parentheses after the word.
Come – koma (pronounced like the english Coma)
Sit – sestu (sesstu)
Stay – bíddu (beethu) (this is literally “wait”, so it’ll be the same command for both)
Lie down – leggstu niður (leg-stew neethur)
Up – upp (the U is pronounced like a German ü. I don’t know how to represent this in text other than maybe “eupp”)
No – nei (nay)
In the car – inn í bíl (In ee beel)
A few others that Auður, the breeder that Þórný came from, helped me with (since she is Icelandic herself):
Leave it – ekki snerta (literally “do not touch”)
Drop it – sleppa
There will eventually be a part 2 to this entry, as Thorny’s education progresses, but for the time being, as she’s only just under 12 weeks old, this is a good start!