Summer Post #24: The Made-Up Languages of Sigur Rós

If you haven’t heard of Sigur Rós, you really should check them out. They’re an Icelandic band (1994-present) with a unique and ethereal sound. The frontman Jón Þór “Jónsi” Birgisson  has also branched off into other projects such as Jónsi & Alex, seen below in “Boy Lilikoi”



In our Language Unit, we addressed the topic of “made-up” languages and some groups presented about Avatar’s Navi, Star Trek’s Klingon, and Tolkien’s many languages of his worlds in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Apparently, Sigur Rós  incorporates a made-up language called “Hopelandic” in English, or “Vonlenska” in Icelandic. In the 2002 album entitled ( ), all songs with vocals are sung in Volenska (read more about it here) “Untitled #8”, a track from that album, was featured in the trailer for the Nicole Kidman film, Invasion. Creepy- what do you think?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Vonlenska is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band,[34] in particular by Jónsi. It is also commonly known by the English translation of its name,Hopelandic. It takes its name from “Von”, a song on Sigur Rós’s debut album Von where it was first used.

Vonlenska is a non-literal language, without fixed syntax, and differs from constructed languages that can be used for communication. It focuses entirely on the sounds of language; lacking grammar, meaning, and even distinct words. Instead, it consists of emotive non-lexical vocables and phonemes; in effect, Vonlenska uses the melodic and rhythmic elements of singing without the conceptual content of language. In this way, it is similar to the use of scat singing in vocal jazz. The band’s website describes it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music”;[35] it is similar in concept to the ‘nonsense’ language often used by Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the syllable strings sung by Jónsi are repeated many times throughout each song, and in the case of ( ), throughout the whole album.



  • From Von:
    • “Von”
  • From Ágætis byrjun:
    • “Olsen Olsen”
    • “Ágætis byrjun” (towards the end)
  • From ( ):
    • All songs with vocals are sung exclusively in Vonlenska.
  • From Takk…:
    • Hoppípolla” (following the Icelandic line “En ég stend alltaf upp [But I always get back up]”)
    • “Sé lest”
    • Sæglópur” (with Icelandic at the end)
    • “Mílanó”
    • “Gong”
    • “Andvari”
    • “Svo hljótt” (following the Icelandic line “Ég þakka þér þá von… [I appreciate your hope]”)
  • From Hvarf:
    • “Salka”
    • Hljómalind
    • “Í Gær”
    • “Von”
    • “Hafsól” (in the middle and towards the end)
  • From Heim:
    • “Vaka”
    • “Ágætis byrjun” (towards the end)
    • “Von”
  • From Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust:
    • “Við spilum endalaust” (with Hopelandic in all the refrains between the lines “Við spiluðum [we played]” and in the end)
    • “Festival”
    • “Ára bátur” (following the Icelandic line “Ég fór, þú fórst [I went, you went]” + entire second half)
    • “Fljótavik” (towards the end)
    • All Alright” (towards the end)
  • From Valtari:
    • “Ég Anda”
    • “Ekki Múkk” (In the beginning and towards the end)
    • “Varúð” (In the refrain, the choir sings “Varúð [Caution]”)
  • Other Songs:
    • “Fönklagið”
    • “Gítardjamm”
    • “Nýja lagið”
    • “Heima” [DVD version]



Summer Post #23: We are All Cyborgs Now

This is my absolute favorite TED talk of the summer! Wow! I love when she says if you are a teen you have to “grow up twice”- digitally and in real life.

More about AMBER CASE , “Cyborg Anthropologist”




And if you are interested, she has published an ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF CYBORG ANTHROPOLOGY


digital store:



Summer Post #22: You Are Not So Smart

After reading this Brainpickings post “YOU ARE NOT SO SMART: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BRAIN’S GUILE”, I was convinced I have to buy the book. It floated into my mailbox yesterday via Amazon and I can’t wait to devour it.


Check out the kinetic typography book trailer on the “PROCRASTINATION” part (towards the end of summer break I bet we are all thinking a bit about that).




“You must be adept at thinking about thinking…”

This next trailer is based on the chapter in the book called “The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy”



“When you desire meaning, when you want things to line up…you see patterns everywhere…”


I discovered that the author, David McRaney, has put together a lovely companion site with podcasts and videos about some of the concepts in his book- many of which are applicable to our upcoming Ways of Knowing unit on Reasoning.

Here’s the link:

Check out this sample about CONFIRMATION BIAS


The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.



Summer Post #21: The 5 Ways We Know About the World

These are by writer Verlyn Klinkenborg.


If you are a writer, I encourage you to read more about her thoughts on writing in this Brainpickings post.