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Iceland Mag


How to pronounce "Öræfajökull", the latest Icelandic volcano to make the news

By Staff

  • Sound advice! It looks difficult, but it's actually not that hard. Photo/Screenshotsf rom video, see below

The latest Icelandic volcano to make international headlines is Öræfajökull. Recently the volcano has been showing signs it might be waking up from a 290 year slumber. Which is no joke: Eyjafjallajökull is the second deadliest volcano in Iceland, a 1362 eruption laid waste to the rich farmland regions in its foothills. Since then the region has been known as Öræfi, which translates as "Wasteland".

Read more: Uncertainty phase still in effect for Öræfajökull volcano

Update: In May 2018 scientists discovered that the retreat Svínafellsjökull of one the outlet glaciers of Öræfajökull has destabilized one of the mountains bordering the glacier. Catastrophic mountain collapse poses serious risk to the hundreds of travelers who visit the glacial lagoon at the tip of Svínafellsjökull

Read more: Popular SE Iceland glacial lagoon a ticking time bomb: Catastrophic mountain collapse looms

An eruption in Eyjafjallajökull could have effects far outside of Iceland. Like the 2010 eruption in Eyjafjallajökull, which shut down air traffic over the North Atlantic, an eruption Öræfajökull could cause significant disruption to air traffic.

Which is perhaps why foreign news agencies and reporters are scrambling to figure out how to pronounce the volcano's name. Where this handy video made by Andrei Menshenin, a journalist with ABC News, stationed in Iceland. As Andrei explains it's actually pretty simple to pronounce Öræfajökull once you know how the word is composed! 

Read more: Newscasters struggle to pronounce Iceland's volcanoes

And as Andrei points out: It's very important to add a small clicking sound at the end, because two L's in a word are often pronounced with a soft click in Icelandic. Ok, perhaps it's not that simple, but there are more difficult placenames in Iceland: Think Snæfellsnes peninsula, which goes under the name Snaffa-Laffacus among many tourists!

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