The day of the Icelandic tongue

Icelandic day - CenterHotels

November 16th, has been deemed ‘the day of the Icelandic tongue’.  The date is the birthday of Iceland’s beloved poet Jónas Hallgrímsson who fought to protect the Icelandic language from Danish influence in the 19th century.  So to honour this day we have gathered some interesting facts about the Icelandic language:

 

Ancient

Due to Iceland’s geographic location, small population and of course the nation’s efforts to preserve the purity of the language, Icelandic hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years. It still sounds much like the Old Norse, a medieval language once spoken across the Nordic countries.

We invent new words rather than borrowing them

There is actually a government committee with Icelandic linguists that work to create unique Icelandic terminology for new things rather than adopting foreign words, such as:

TV = ‘Sjónvarp’ (“vision projection”)
Computer = ‘Tölva’ the combination of ‘tala’ (digit) and ‘völva’ (seeress)
iPad = Spjaldtölva, the combination of ‘spjald’ (tablet) and ‘tölva’ (computer)

Icelandic Names

The Icelandic phonebook lists people by their first name and the reason is that Icelanders do not use family names. Instead they use the traditional Nordic naming system where the last name is taken from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with the addition of -dóttir (-daughter) or -son.  Jón Ólafsson’s offspring, for example, might be Einar Jónsson and Sigríður Jónsdóttir.

Alphabet

The Icelandic alphabet consists of 32 letters versus 26 in the English alphabet.  Some of the letters are duplicated with acute accents and in addition it includes the letter Ðð, the runic letter Þþ, Ææ and Öö.

We talk on the inhale

This may be a surprise to some Icelanders (only because it is so natural) but we often speak on the inhale, mostly when saying Já (yes). The reason is a mystery but if you pay attention; you’ll notice and hopefully get a giggle.

Devilishly difficult to learn

It’s just a hype, don’t be fooled.  Although it may not sound like it, Icelandic is in fact closely related to English.
So if you put in the time, you’ll get there.  Just keep in mind that only about 0.005% of the seven billion people on this globe speak Icelandic making it NOT the most practical language to learn.  But
Icelanders do love when you try to speak it to them in Icelandic..you may get laughed at a bit but it’s all a part of the fun.  

On that note we’ll leave you with a few common Icelandic phrases/sentences so you can start practising:

‘Áfram með smjörið’ (On with the butter), meaning = stop slacking.

‘Takk fyrir síðast’ (Thanks for last time), meaning = nice seeing you again.

‘Góðan daginn’ (Good day), meaning = Hello or Good morning

‘Þetta reddast’  (chill, It’ll work out)

‘Glugga Veður’ (Window-Weather), meaning = the weather looks good through the window but is actually not good at all

‘Gefa undir fótinn’ (Give under the foot) meaning = Flirt