It should not be new news to you that in Iceland we speak Icelandic (yeahh!) There are currently 358.000 Icelandic speakers. Even though there are some native speakers in Canada and Denmark, most speakers are located mainly in Iceland. But where does the Icelandic Language come from? What does it look like? We will find out in this newly baked article!
The Icelandic Language is part of the North Germanic languages, a branch of the old Germanic tongues spoken around 500 B.C. This proto Germanic seems to have originated in Scandinavia. It slowly started its expansion and began to evolve into several different dialects. This is when the North Dialect was born. North dialect might be a word that does not ring any bell, but what if we say old Norse instead? Surely you now have a subtle idea of what we are talking about. After evolving prom Proto Norse, Old Norse became the language spoken during the Viking era.
The Vikings were seafarer people that navigated to different places in Europe, settled in different locations and of course, brought their language with them. This eventually created a slightly different way of communicating inside each community. This gave birth to the modern languages we know today: Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Faroese and of course, Icelandic.
From all of these languages, Icelandic is a bit peculiar. Due to its isolating conditions in a remote North Atlantic island, it has barely evolved. Because of this, Icelandic remains quite similar to Old Norse. So much that even kids can read the old Viking sagas and understand what it says. Isn’t that amazing?
This is why we still keep some vowels and consonants that are kept from the old times, such our well known “ð” (named edh) or Þ (named Thor) and æ (named Ash). They look weird and complicated to many, but they are actually easy to pronounce. These sounds also exist in English as well:
Ð: Just like the th in “that”
Þ: As the th in “thick”
Æ: Like the A sound in “Cat”
Sadly, it seems Icelandic is a hard language for English native speakers. Not only because of its pronunciation but also due to its grammar. Icelandic Language has four grammatical cases and three noun genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) It surely is different from the English grammar, right? Well, it does not stop there. Do not forget the verbs, we conjugate them depending on number, person, tense, mood, voice…. blah blah blah. Too much. I know.
Where Does The Icelandic Language Come From?
But do not get pushed back! If you are a language lover, you soon will see many words share similarities with English. After all, both languages have the same great, great, great-grandparents! There are many sources on the internet to learn Icelandic, it might take time but in the end it will be worth it. And if you are just a visitor that would like to learn some basic words, that is awesome! We will think you are the coolest person alive for even taking the time to try. So as we say in Icelandic Language: Takk!