The Icelandic language

Icelandic is the official language of Iceland. It is an Indo-European language, belonging to the sub-group of North Germanic languages. It is closely related to Norwegian and Faroese, although there are slight traces of Celtic influence in ancient Icelandic literature.

Icelandic is an insular language, and as such, has not been influenced greatly by other languages. As a result, the language has changed very little from when the country was settled in the ninth and tenth centuries. It did not become makedly different from Norwegian until the 14th century, when Norwegian became increasingly influenced by its neighbouring languages, Swedish and Danish. Because of this resistance to change, text from the 12th century are still understandable to Icelandic schoolchildren. 

The Icelandic language is considered one of the cornerstones of the Icelandic culture, in large part due to a strong literary heritage. Since the 18th century, when the Icelandic language was under threat from Danish influence, a movement of language purism rose, and has since been the dominant linguistic policy in the country. Icelandic does not usually adopt foreign words for new concepts, opting instead to coin new words, or give old words new meaning, to keep the langauge free of outside influence.

How do I say …

Hello

Góðan daginn

GO-than DYE-inn

Please

This doesn’t really exist in Icelandic, but if you want to, you could just use “takk”

Tak

Thank you

Takk fyrir

Tak FIH-rir

Excuse me

Afsakið

AF-sah-kith

I don’t speak Icelandic

Ég tala ekki íslensku

YEG TA-la EK-ki EES-len-skoo

Iceland is a beautiful country

Ísland er fallegt land

EES-land ehr FAT-legt land

Cheers!

Skál!

scowl

 




Inspired by Iceland