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Iceland Mag

Culture

A few suggestions for all-Icelandic emoji to express those unique Icelandic experiences

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Three of the Icelandic candidates A puffin, music legend Bubbi Morthens and Reykjavík landmark Hallgrímskirkja church.

Recently Finland launched a special online Christmas calendar with a set of specifically “Finnish emoji”, featuring distinctively Finnish themes like naked sauna goers, headbanging metal-rockers and a retro Nokia handset. All things which are associated with Finland and Finnish culture.

AFP reports that the Finnish foreign ministry hopes the emojis will help Finns communicate via instant messaging. Typical Finnish themes, like sauna, are missing from international emoji packages, a Foreign Ministry spokesman tells AFP. The ministry believes the emoji, which they claim to be the first “national emojis”, will not only be restricted to conversations about sauna or heavy metal: The "sauna (emoji) can be used to signal anything 'hot', like that girl you went on a date with yesterday," the Foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

We at Iceland Magazine believe Iceland needs its own national emoji as well, capturing specifically Icelandic moments. So, we contacted a few commentators, artists, authors and politicians to ask them what should be included in a package of “Icelandic emoji”!

Please notice that several of the suggestions are probably loaded with too much Icelandic culture and require years of immersion in Icelandic society to be intelligible to outsiders. But then again, that’s the beauty of emojis: They are perfect in contests where you want to say something which you really can’t put into words. We at Iceland Magazine can hardly wait to use the Bubbi Morthens emojis to add some punch to our text messages!

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairman of the Left Green Alliance and former Minister of Education

Happy cod and a sad cod: For the happy and sad moments! And: who can forget the jolly codfish Þorri Þorskur who sold children cod-liver oil in the 1990s and early 2000s?
Golden plover (lóa): For general beauty. (We at Iceland Magazine believe the golden plover emoji would also be used in early spring, to signify the coming of summer.)
The flower buttercup (sóley): For beauty and happiness. To be used in similar situations as the golden plover.
Ram’s testicles: To be used for a “sour” mood or situations which could only be described as sour.

Dr. Gunni , author, punk rocker and pop music expert

Bubbi Morthens: The Icelandic pop singer and former punk rocker. This emoji has countless uses, none of which are easily explained to foreigners. You probably need to have grown up with the evolving music of Bubbi and his countless appearances in the media to understand. 
The order of the falcon (Fálkaorðan): The highest medal awarded by the President of Iceland. 
Hallgrimskirkja church: For Reykjavík, obviously.
Leoncie: A middle aged pop singer and home made synth-disco star who calls herself “The Indian Princess”. It is difficult to explain or describe Leoncie, or her cultural significance to foreigners. Perhaps she could be described as an un-ironic Icelandic/Indian version of Ru Paul? 
Cocktail sauce (kokteilsósa): The pink mayonnaise dipping Icelanders put on French fries and believe is a uniquely Icelandic invention. 
Charred sheep’s head/jaw of a charred sheep’s head (sviðakjammi): For tradition and Icelandicness!
Happy and sad puffins: For the happy and sad moments.

Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, author, activist and adjunct at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts

An emoji for the Icelandic phrase “Þetta reddast” (“It will work itself out”): We at Iceland mag have no idea how this would be drawn, but there is no expression or idea more Icelandic than this phrase. It captures the essence of Icelandicness and the Icelandic outlook on life. It's our answer to life, the universe and everything.
Cutie emoji (“krútt”): For the “cutie-generation”. In Iceland millennials are sometimes referred to as the cutie-generation, and bands like Sigurrós are seen as emerging out of this cuteness.
Björk: We at Iceland Magazine see countless variations on this emoji.
The puffin as a tourist emoji: Again, countless uses.
An emoji for “daddy/mommy-weekends”: For single parents who share custody on weekends, the daddy/mommy-weekends can be associated with all kinds of things. For the mother the “daddy-weekend” (or vice-versa) means a couple of days off, time to go to the movies or even the bar, three nights in a row.
Volcanic eruption: For example “I can’t come tonight [Insert image of Eyjafjallajökull].”
Volcanic ash pollution: Obviously in connection to the volcanic eruption emoji.
Geir Ólafs: Another old Icelandic pop-star/crooner with a sort love/hate cult following.

Andri Snær Magnason, author and environmental activist

The logos of the political parties should be emojis: “I don’t know how they would be used, but it would be really interesting to try them out. For example, different emojis for the falcon, which is the symbol of the Conservative party. We could have a sympathetic, angry or surprised falcon. Or a dancing falcon. The possibilities are endless. Party members could use these to express the party being pleased, or to warn people that they are sharing something political that does not please the falcon. Such emojis could also come in handy in a government ministry. When a supervisor "friends" his subordinates and keeps them into line if they are sharing or posting something not in favour of the government: They could use the angry falcon emoji, or the baffled falcon or the sincerely fatherly disappointed falcon.”
A seal: Obviously seals are cute and very Icelandic.
Volcanic eruption from mount Hekla: This emoji would have to be a gif, shaking a few times before erupting with fire and brimstone.
Geysir geyser: Would also have to be a gif. Would look sort of like champagne. The volcano emoji would be used for anger, the geyser for happy moments. 

Halldór Auðar Svansson, The Pirate Party representative on Reykjavík City Council

A swimming pool hot tub: For chat about politics and current affairs: Hot tubs at the community geothermal pools have tradtionally been the civic centes and our version of the water cooler, the place you go for gossip and conversations about what's going on.
“A Puffin shop”: Icelanders refer to souvenir stores as “puffin shops”. To be used when talking about economic bubbles.
A Hamburger and French fries: To be used when you’re hung over.
The statue of Jón Sigurðsson on Austurvöllur square: Would symbolize “Icelandic values”, or could refer to the bums and vinos who hang around the square.
Elves: To be used about things which you are not sure if you believe, or are supposed to believe as an Icelander. 

Jón Örn Loðmfjörð, better known as Lommi. Poet.

A great auk: The last great auk was killed in Iceland (not our greatest moment), and the Icelandic version of referring to someone as “a dinosaur” is to describe him as a “Great auk”.
Gísli á Uppsölum: A reclusive bachelor farmer who lived alone at a tiny farm, far away from civilization. Born in 1907, Gísli became famous in the 1980s when TV presenter Ómar Ragnarsson visited and interviewed Gísli for his popular series about Icelanders and Icelandic nature. Gísli, who told strange stories and spoke his own pigeon Icelandic lived free from modern convenience. He quickly became a symbol for a strange bygone age, a Iceland which had been left behind in time and ultimately for everyone who refuses to bow to the rules of modern civilization. There are all kinds of uses for a Gísli á Uppsölum emoji.
Jónas frá Hríflu: Jónas was the “father of the Icelandic political party system”. He was one of the founders of the Progressive party, the principal of the Cooperative College and one of the most important political figures of the 1910s, 20s and 30s. Jónas was a complex and controversial character, but he is perhaps best known now for his conservative views on modern art and literature and his romantic ideas of Icelandic history and culture.
Ölfusará bridge by the town of Selfoss in South Iceland: “As a symbol of how modern technology has made it easier to do things we really have no need to do. Like, for example, go to Selfoss.”

Do you have any brilliant ideas you would like to add to the mix? Or do you want to take a stab at drawing some of these emoji? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

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