Learn Icelandic

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About Icelandic

Icelandic hasn’t changed much over the centuries, meaning that the original Icelandic sagas from the 12th century can still be read with ease by today's Icelandic speakers. The language descends from Old Norse and is closely related to Faroese, although the two are not mutually understood. Icelandic prefers to create its own words for new terms rather than borrow English loanwords, with results such as 'tölva' for computer, made up of the words 'tala' - number - and 'völva' - prophetess.

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North Germanic

Fun facts — Icelandic

  • 'Gluggaveður' means ‘window weather’ - the tempting bright weather you see from your window, which turns out to be impossibly cold when you get outside!
  • There are two ways to say 'hello': 'sæll' if you're greeting a man, and 'sæl' if you're greeting a woman.
  • Icelanders' second names are based on the names of their fathers, so Skorri Jónsson is Skorri, son of Jón, whilst Dimma Jónsdóttir is Dimma, daughter of Jón.
  • Icelandic and Faroese are the only languages to use the letter ð.
  • English borrows the word 'geyser' from Icelandic.

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