Höpöhöpö Böks!
February 17, 2009 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is an Icelandic poet. He translates Icelandic poetry into English (I particularly like his versions of Sigfús Daðason), and he has an interesting interview on Icelandic poetry ("Curiously enough, back in the days the nationalists would sometimes write in danish. And writing in a foreign language was more or less seen as the only alternative to literature being a mere hobby until Halldór Laxness came along"). But really this is an elaborate excuse to post a link to Höpöhöpö Böks: Köld öld Böks mjög örg, Ölböl örlög Böks! (Warning: My wife thought the linked video sounded like vomiting.) Via wood s lot. This one goes out to my man Kattullus; hope you can stick around!

"The word Höpöhöpö (more commonly written höpö höpö) is finnish and means something between 'bla bla bla' and 'bullshit'. Written in one word it’s the longest word I know that only has ö’s."
posted by languagehat (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is my surprised face: ö
posted by ardgedee at 3:54 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

My wife thought the linked video sounded like vomiting.

Heh. My roomate was sitting across from me reading a book when I started the video. His reaction: "What the fuck is that? How to learn a new language while vomiting?"

("Hva faen er dét? Hvordan lære seg et nytt språk mens mans spyr?")
posted by Dumsnill at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2009

Sigfús Daðason was married to my great-aunt, actually. I've been in touch with Eiríkur for a number of years but somehow we've never met. He's from Ísafjörður in the Western Fjords of Iceland and I'm from Reykjavík. He lives in Finland and I in Providence, Rhode Island. He's a good guy all around. His best poetry is really, really good. Höpöhöpö Böks is my favorite poem. The last Christmas gift I received from my grandmother before she died was a one of his books of poetry.

Oh, Höpöhöpö Böks is about Canadian poet Christian Bök (Böks being his name in the genitive case in Icelandic).
posted by Kattullus at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2009

compare/contrast: Ernst Jandl's "Ottos Mops". (Also: original audio; graphic array version; "Fritz's bitch" and other translations.)
posted by progosk at 4:21 PM on February 17, 2009

"Köszönöm!" (Which is the same length, with only "ö" as a vowel, except it's Hungarian, which has a lot of words of even longer length with only "ö" as a vowel.)

Very nice interview. The Icelandic I've heard is weirdly pleasant . . . the poem, however, was funny once. After that, I'm inclined to agree with your wife.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love the ööööö's. My first instinct was "Hey, I can use this video to teach the 12yo what that *sound* is supposed to be in Norwegian. But then I read the translation.

'Course I could still tell him he has to listen to it on repeat until he gets the sound. And insist that, no, I have no idea what it means. :)
posted by RedEmma at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2009

Höpöhöpö Böks sounded to me like something beserk Vikings would have shouted at each other before sailing off to pillage an Irish monastery.

Good though. . .
posted by rdone at 5:54 PM on February 17, 2009

I so cannot pronounce "Köszönöm" properly despite the best efforts of future-mother-in-law to train me. I can manage the shortened "Köszi" (sp?), but that's about it. Hungarian vowels make me crazy. These Icelandic vowels, though.........AWESOME.

(Ich bevorzuge deutsche Umlaute).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:33 PM on February 17, 2009

I got to meet Eiríkur last summer -- he gave a terrific reading and seems like a quality person. Rah.
posted by Casuistry at 9:22 PM on February 17, 2009

I can pronounce the Finnish höpö höpö (though probably with an atrocious American accent), but the rest of the poem is... difficult (as I would expect from a language I don't speak).

It's fun seeing poetry in vowels I don't get to use.
Thanks for the post.
posted by Richard Daly at 11:00 PM on February 17, 2009

I think I have a new favorite poem!
posted by Xoebe at 7:54 AM on February 18, 2009

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