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Iceland Mag

Culture

German meteorologist's reading of the Icelandic radio weather forecast catches people's attention

By Staff

  • A positive development or multiculturalism run amok? A german seismologist at the Icelandic Meteorlogical Office, who has been living in Iceland since 2009 and speaks nearly perfect Icelandic, but with a slight accent, has been the weather forecast for the National Broadcasting Service has been welcomed by radio listeners, but angered a handful of conservative natonalists. Photo/GVA

The reading of the weather forecast by a German seismologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office has caught the attention of many radio-listeners in Iceland who see it as a welcome proof of the growing multi-cultural character of Icelandic society: Hearing the weather forecast, this quintessential Icelandic institution, read by an immigrant in perfect Icelandic, with only the slightest hint of an accent, was a perfect example of the successful transition of Iceland in the past couple of decades, and ability of immigrants not only to learn Icelandic, but to merge seamlessly into Icelandic society and contribute to Icelandic culture.

You can listen to Marin's reading of the weather forecast on December 8 at the website of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

Read more: Inhabitants of Reykjavík city are of 131 different nationalities

Many Icelanders have remarked on social media that Martin's Icelandic is remarkably good, especially when we consider the fact that Icelandic is generally considered a very difficult language to master. In fact, it has often been remarked that one of the best ways to impress an Icelander is to learn some Icelandic.

But while the reception was overwhelmingly positive, Martin's reading of the weather managed to cause some annoyance as well. A right-wing Christian nationalist blogger denounced his almost perfect Icelandic, since it was not spoken and pronounced with "100% accuracy," thus reminding us that it is quite simply impossible bo placate or satisfy certain elements of society:

A German seismologist living in Iceland
Martin Hensch is a geophysicist with a phd in Seismology from the University of Hamburg. He moved to Iceland in 2009, when he began working at the University of Iceland. Since 2012 he has been working at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Recently he began reading the regular radio weather forecasts on the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV.

Read more: Icelandic rated among the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers

A longer weather forecast is read seven times each day, but shorter weather news after each RÚV news hour. The weather forecast is among the most popular material on radio, and plays an important role in the cultural life of Iceland. The reading of the weather by an immigrant with a slight accent could therefore have been expected to cause a stir.

The voice of one angry old man, frustrated that the world continues to change
The only exception to the overwhelmingly positive response is an angry post by a conservative right-wing Christian nationalist and somewhat popular blogger. The blog post caused a number of raised eyebrows and a fair amount of ridicule, for example on the popular morning show Harmageddon on the rock radio station X-ið. The nationalist blogger denounces the reading of the weather forecast by Martin, describing it as an example of “co-dependent multiculturalism run amok”, claiming it is a threat to the lives and limbs of seafarers and travellers to have a non-native born person read the weather forecast. 

In an interview on the RÚV channel 2 morning show Martin said the blog post did not upset him the least, adding that “those who want to understand will understand.”

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