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Iceland Mag

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“Jæja” The many meanings of the most important all-purpose Icelandic word you’ll learn

By Staff

  • Useful for a number of situations Unsure of how to respond? Jæja! Photo/Iceland Magazine

The key to learning a foreign language is often to master the strange everyday words which can be used in a whole number of different situations. Icelandic has a number of these words. One of them, and one of our favourites is “jæja”, a word which can mean any number of things, depending on the context, the tone of voice or the emphasis on different syllables.

Read more: 10 words and phrases in Icelandic that don’t exist in English

Jæja is usually used alone, as an answer or a command, or at the beginning of a sentence to set the tone. It frequently carries with it a certain exasperation or frustration, or a sense of urgency. Which is the reason it was adapted as the name of the group which organized some of the mass protests against the  Prime Minister of Iceland who resigned over the Panama Papers leak in April 2016: Jæja! That was the last straw!

It serves a similar purpose in Icelandic as the words “well”, “ok” and “yeah” in English. A simple “jæja” is often all you need to say! 

Jæja

Jæja? Isn't that pretty clear? What more do you need? Photo/Iceland Magazine

 

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