Ambling Along

Walking stick figure

An Icelandic word I learnt recently is (að) labba [ˈlapːa], which means ‘to walk slowly, to amble, to stroll’ [source].

Here are a few examples of usage:

  • Mér finnst gaman að labba um bæinn = I like to stroll around town
  • Ljúft finnst mér að labba á pöbbinn = I like to walk to the pub [source]
  • Ég labba ein heim eftir myrkur = I walk home alone after dark [source]

Other Icelandic words meaning to walk include:

að ganga [að ˈkauŋka] = to walk, go on foot, to climb; to move, run, go; to go around, be passed on [source].

Here are some examples:

  • að ganga á fjall = to climb a mountain
  • vagninn gengur á 20 mínútna fresti = the bus runs every 20 minutes
  • klukkan gengur = the clock is going
  • vélin gengur vel = the machine is running well
  • sagan gengur = the story is going about
  • þetta gengur vel = this is coming along fine
  • þetta gengur ekki = this won’t work, this won’t do
  • hvað gengur á? = what’s going on?

This word comes from the Old Norse ganga (to go, walk), from the Proto-Germanic *ganganą (to go, walk, step), from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰengʰ- (to walk, step) [source]. This is also the root of the Old English words gangan (to go, walk, turn out) and gang (a journey; way; passage), which is used in some northern dialects of English to mean to go – e.g. in Geordie gan yem = go home [source]. It’s modern meaning of a group of people probably comes from the idea of people travelling (ganging) together [source].

að troða [að ˈtʰrɔːða] = to trample, tread on, step on; to tread, walk; to stuff, fill, pack; to press forward, elbow one’s way [source].

This word comes from the Old Norse troða (to tread, walk), from the Proto-Germanic *trudaną (to tread, step on), which is also the root of the English words tread and trot.

að rölta [að ˈrœlta] = to stroll, saunter [source].

Incidentally, the English word amble comes from the Old French ambler (to walk as a horse does), from the Old Provençal amblar, from Latin ambulō (I walk) [source], and stroll comes from the German strollen, a variant of the Alemannic German strolchen, from Strolch (vagabond; rascal) [source].

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