UnNews:Iceland names new volcano to frustrate foreign newscasters

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Iceland names new volcano to frustrate foreign newscasters

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2 September 2014


Holu­hrauns­hrauns­hrauns­hraun, the newest volcano for which Icelanders are gleefully looking forward to hearing foreign newscasters mispronounce.

HOLUHRAUN, Iceland -- Iceland's newest volcano has only been erupting four days, but Icelanders are already seeking names for it. Among the leading suggestions is Holu­hrauns­hrauns­hrauns­hraun, which was chosen specifically to mess with foreigners who try to pronounce it. Seriously.

The events that led up to the eruption started with an earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga, near Grímsvötn under Vatnajökull. Fears were quickly raised that it could spread southwest and cause another Veiðivötn or Skaftáreldar eruption, or perhaps lead to heavy ash from Torfajökull. Instead, activity first peaked near Kistufell with smaller quakes near Tungnafellsjökull before a dike opened up to Kverkfjallahryggur and then up to under Dyngjujökull. Fears were high of a jökulhlaup in the Jökulsár á Fjöllum after a series of sigkatlar opened up on Vatnajökull, and even more so after activity started striking near Askja, particularly Herðubreiðartögl. However, the dike broke free and created a new series of eruptive events out on Holuhraun, helping to relieve the pressure.

Since the eruption, tremor activity has subsided in the area due to a reduction of the incessant giggling from Icelanders listening to foreign reporters trying to pronounce words like Bárðarbunga, Dyngjujökull, and Herðubreiðartögl, as most have managed to say Holuhraun reasonably well. Hence the need to quickly name the new volcano became paramount.

"We've been getting lots of suggestions, but Holuhraunshraunshraunshraun is still my favorite," said Þorbjörg Ágústsdóttir, a doctoral student researching the volcano, in an interview with the BBC. "Hey, how do you plan to introduce me for this segment? Here's how my name is spelled, can I take a video with my cell of you practicing it?"

Others are still making up their minds. "I was thinking of going with Þettaeralltoffyndiðmaðurhraun, but I have to admit, Holuhraunshraunshraunshraun has a certain ring to it," said geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmunds­son, trying to contain a gleeful grin. "Some of the other scientists are suggesting just stringing random letters together, but I think at least I should be able to pronounce it."

Focus groups of tourists have yielded very positive results with the new name. In a sample of twenty people on Laugarvegur carrying stuffed puffins or confusedly reading maps, six were reported to have "serious errors" in their pronunciation, thirteen "totally mangled" it, while one accidentally summoned Surtr, guardian of the fiery realm of Múspell. Three were taken to the hospital afterwards due to tongue sprains.

The results were greeted by a round of high fives among the research team and the rapid devouring of a package of foul-smelling dried fish.

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