Icelandic: The official language of the smallest country

Iceland is a remote island in the Northern Atlantic, and, on account of its location, the language of the island has remained almost unchanged since the 13th century. The Icelandic language is part of the North Germanic family with close relatives in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and the now-extinct Faroese.


3 interesting facts about the Icelandic language

Unlike most other Germanic languages, Icelandic is more traditional to its Indo-European language roots.
The well-known Icelandic Sagas are renowned for the literature produced from the twelfth century and on.
Icelandic has a four-case synthesized grammar and features a large number of unusual conjugations.

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Origin of the language

The language originated in modern-day Norway, where common ancestors spoke Old Norse. In the 9th century, settlers came to Iceland and created a separate language that diverged from Old Norse.


History of the language

The oldest preserved written texts are from the 11th century and include Icelandic Sagas. In the history of the Icelandic language, Old Icelandic transitioned from Old Norse and also evolved under Celtic influence. Interestingly, the language persevered under Danish rule.

Iceland natives adopted the Latin script in the 12th century, and the First Grammatical Treatise was written soon afterward. Middle Icelandic emerged around 1300, and the current spelling has hardly changed since. Modern Icelandic was formed after the Lutheran Reformation and the translation of the Bible. The Icelandic language alphabet developed from the standard variant in the 19th century and was influenced by the 12th-century Grammatical Treatise.

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Learning the language

An English speaker will need about 1100 hours to learn Icelandic.

How to say 10 popular words and phrases in the Icelandic language

People who study the Icelandic language recognize how little it has changed from its origins. Although both Icelandic and English are Germanic languages, the differences are sufficiently vast to warrant an estimated 1,100 hours to learn the Icelandic language. However, you can quickly learn some of the most common words and phrases like “hello” and “water” in Icelandic. If you need content writing in Icelandic, you might need a professional to help you out!

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fun facts

Fun facts about the Icelandic language

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Icelandic alphabet

The Icelandic language has 32 letters. It contains the same Latin letters of the English alphabet as well as letters unique to the Icelandic language: á, æ, ð, é, í, ó, ö, þ, ú, and ý.


Original language

Rather than use foreign terms for objects, a new word is created by repurposing an old one. For example, a computer is called “tölva,” which means number oracle.

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Inhaling sentences

It is fairly typical to hear a sentence in Icelandic uttered on the inhalation rather than pausing in speech.


Word Of Wisdom!

The thing about Iceland is that we are trapped there anyway, all of us. We have been trapped there for thousands of years.

Baltasar Kormákur

Actor, producer and writer


Word Of Wisdom!

We thought it was drops of dew and kissed, cold tears from the cross grass.

Jónas Hallgrímsson

Folklore writer and poet


Word Of Wisdom!

It’s a pity we don’t whistle at one another, like birds. Words are misleading. I am always trying to forget words.

Halldór Laxness

Writer and Nobel Prize winner

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