You might have to sit down for this post to get ready for some seriously long Icelandic place-names and how to pronounce them!
Many remember when Eyjafjallajökull erupted and everyone, even their grandmother tried to pronounce it.
In this picture, found on Reddit, an Icelandic woman decided to record herself reading all the place names (to be fair, many of those are even hard for us!). Now, here we have Jökulsárlón – it’s not as dramatic, but certainly fun!
Icelandic is an ancient language, in essence, it is Old-Norse and hasn’t changed much since the times of yore. Icelanders can even read 1000-year-old writings! It’s pretty impressive. However, thinking of old English for example, it also means that the language is difficult.
How do you pronounce Jökulsárlón?
Before we get into that, we want to tell you a little bit more about the lagoon itself. It is a newly formed lagoon in the South-east of Iceland. Newly, meaning barely 100 years old. It was formed when the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier (which is a part of the Vatnajökull glacier) started melting and receding. In recent years it has been melting quicker and therefore, got significantly bigger. It is the deepest and one of the biggest lakes in Iceland. Taking a boat ride on Jökulsárlón is an excellent way of getting closer to maybe even witnessing the birth of a new iceberg!
But what about that pronunciation? OK, ok. Here it goes. The IPA spelling of the word is [ˈjœːkʏlsˌaurˌloun̥], which would translate for those who do not read the International Phonetic Alphabet as Yoekuhls-our-loan.
At the south end of the lagoon, there is a river that runs into the ocean, called Jökulsá við Breiðamerkursand. So, let’s try that one out: Yoekuhls-ow (like in cow) vith Braitha-merkur-sand (‘th’ as in that).
And what does it all mean? Jökulsárlón means Glacier-river-lagoon and Jökulsá við Breiðamerkursand means Glacier-river by Broad-field-sand.
How to get to Jökulsárlón?
The best way to reach Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is either by car or on a day tour by bus. Most day tours have a few short stops by some of Iceland’s famous waterfalls before the bus driver takes a long break at Jökulsárlón, which gives you plenty of time to join a tour.