Learning Icelandic

An Anonymous Ode To The Complexities Of Grammar

You saw a ship go 'round the bend
In Iceland? Call it "skip", my friend.
But if you saw THE ship you use
"Hið skip", or "skipið" as you choose.

Supposing, then, that to this ship
You wish to go -- you can't say "skip"
The Nominative Case -- ah, no --
Rather, to "skipsins", do you go --

Then, up the ship-sides clamber you
"Hið skip", or "Hin skip" will not do.
Again, 'tis the Possessive Case
"Hin skips" or skipsin" used in place.

But, coming 'round the bend, maybe
Two ships, or three or four you see.
Then "skipin" see you, or "hin skip"
Plural Accusative of ship.

If to the ships you wend your way,
Is "skipin" still the word? Nay! Nay!
You now come to "hinna skipa" go --
Or to "skipanna" walk or row.

And pray be careful, lest you trip
Over a Dative on the ship.
Many have come to grief ere you
And barked their shins on "skipinu".

Enough! you say, in heaven's name, come
Lower the boats from "skipinu".
Desert the "skip" that is no ship
But various forms and kinds of "skip".

All right, if you insist, but we
Must take our leave grammatically.
"Hið skip" or "skipið" leave we now,
To "hinna skipa" make our bow.

Against "skipunum" far and near
Echoes our heartfelt parting cheer.
"Hið skip" -- Farewell! -- and ship ahoy,
God give Icelandic students, joy!