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The Icelandic Language

    • Iceland facts
    • Play Iceland
    • 1:48

Spoken by a little more than 300,000 people, the future of the Icelandic language is uncertain.
It has its origin in the 9th century, when settlers, mainly from Norway, came to the island and brought with them the language of Old Norse. Over the centuries this common language evolved and by the 14th century the languages of Iceland and Norway had become two totally different languages; Icelandic and Norwegian. However, even if the Icelandic language has changed a lot, modern Icelanders can still read and understand Old Norse, the language of the sagas.

Icelanders are very proud of their language and celebrate ‘’The Day of the Icelandic Language’’ on the 16th of November. Innovation within the language is also phenomenal since Icelanders make up new words for almost everything. For example, the word for a computer is ‘’Tölva’’, a helicopter is ‘’þyrla’’, and the smartphone is called ‘’snjallsími’’.
There is great concern in Iceland that due to its rarity, the Icelandic language might go extinct. This will be a challenge for generations to come but modern Icelanders also have to play their part. A project, recently launched, called “Samrómur”, where Icelanders are asked to donate their voices, is to help to create a large database of the Icelandic language. The aim is to be able to compete against english voice commands and communicate with technology.

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