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View Diary: Icelandic Exceptionalism (211 comments)

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  •  Names (6+ / 0-)

    Iceland is named as such because Flóki Vilgerðarson saw pack ice drifting by during his first (unusually cold) winter at Barðarströnd - the notion being, "man, this place is so cold that the ocean is freezing".  Of course, Iceland's climate is actually quite mild and it's not normal for pack ice to reach Iceland.  Still, people approaching the island from the east and south and seeing the glacial termini of Vatnajökull probably didn't question the name much  ;)

    Greenland wasn't so unreasonably named when you realize that the name was what Eiríkr Rauði called the specific land that he was settling, and was not necessarily envisioning naming this whole massive glacial-covered island at the time.  Banished for murder, he sailed along the south shore of the (already known) island to the west , going past frozen inlets until he found an area that was not glaciated, and in fact, quite green during the summer (and still is to this day - there are a number of unglaciated spots in Greenland, with climates cooler than but not too radically different from Iceland).  His saga states that he chose the name because he wanted a nice name to be appealing and attract people.

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