Iceland is a Scandinavian country. It follows the world’s oldest democracy but with a modern touch in each field. It is different from other European countries because it is a homogenous country ethnically.

For this reason, its inhabitants conduct many types of genetic research to develop cures for different diseases. Iceland is very much influenced by European culture.

However, the Icelanders took great interest in preserving their traditions and culture. The only way to preserve culture and tradition is by preserving the language.

You will find it shocking that many people living in Iceland still believe in fairies, on the northern side of the country. The Icelanders that live in cities also consider Iceland a rural area in the modern world.

Iceland is a land of beauty with the natural wonders of the world. On one side, you can view the erupted volcanoes, while on the other hand, you can view beautiful glaciers.

The news in 2010 was about the eruption of the volcano, which sought the attention of the world. During that time when the volcano was throwing ashes, it disrupted air travel for six days

Thus, people start looking forward to the north side to view the captivating beauty of Iceland. To enjoy the beauty of Iceland, one should know what language the people speak.

Table of Content

  1. Why Move to Iceland?
  2. The Icelandic Language
  3. Origination of the Icelandic Language
    1. History
    2. Modern Form of Icelandic
    3. Regional Dialects
  4. What is Linguistic Purism?
  5. Which other Languages are Spoken in Iceland?
    1. Danish Language
    2. Different Foreign Languages Spoken in Iceland
  6. The Iceland People’s Proficiency in Other Languages
  7. Iceland is an Incredible Place to Live
  8. Wrapping Up

Why Move to Iceland?

If you are planning to go to Iceland, you will find people speaking fluent English, and they are very open and warm towards their foreign guests.

The capital city of Iceland is Reykjavik. It is a serene and calm city that plays an important role in cultural promotion. In 2008, Iceland made a great promise that no one expected. It laid great restrictions on capital controls and made great capital reforms. The financial reforms made by the Icelandic government led the country toward a prosperous and bright future.

For this reason, many people visit Iceland so that they can settle there. Another reason that makes Iceland an amazing country is that it’s safe and clean. In fact, it’s the world’s most peaceful country, as per the Global Peace Index 2022. The crime rate is very low there. Violent crimes in Iceland practically don’t exist. The country promotes equal opportunities for both men and women. When it comes to gender equality, the country has remained a leader since 2009.

If we talk about the business environment in Iceland, it’s quite attractive. Companies looking to expand their international operations find this to be a fabulous location. Why? Because Iceland has high education levels, the tax structure is low here, and the costs for talented labor, electricity, land, etc. are very economical.

Moreover, you will find nature everywhere. No matter where you go in Iceland, you will find the sea or mountains nearby, making it a dream destination for nature lovers. The country is home to 10,000 waterfalls, 800 hot springs, 35 active volcanoes, the largest glacier in Europe, and more. If you want to take advantage of this beautiful country for both personal and professional gains, you must know about the languages the people of Iceland generally speak.

The Icelandic Language

The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. It is from the Indo-European group of North Germanic languages. This language has remained under the great influence of both the Faroese and Norwegian languages. However, with the minor influence of the Celtic language in the old Icelandic literature.

Iceland is an isolated country that exhibits linguistic homogeny. It means that there are not so many languages popular in Iceland. Initially, the people of Iceland spoke the Gaelic language.

Icelandic gained official status in the 2011 constitution. Apart from the Icelandic language’s official language, Icelandic sign language is also the official minority language.

Approximately, 330,000 people out of 387,758 people that live in Iceland speak the Icelandic language. The best part is that Iceland has a 100% literacy rate and 97% of these Icelanders speak Icelandic as their mother tongue.

The important thing to note is that less than 1% of the Icelandic population is deaf. Therefore, they have also given Icelandic sign language official status by law.

Origination of Icelandic Language

Icelandic is part of the Germanic language. The North German subgroup consists of five languages that are Norwegian, Faroese, Greenlandic Norse, and the extinct language of Norn and Icelandic.

The Icelandic is more intelligible to the Faroese than the Norwegian. Moreover, the written form of the Faroese is similar to the written Faroese.

  • History

Icelandic is an insular language, which means no other language has influenced it. During the period of Iceland’s settlement during the 9th and 10th centuries, the Icelandic language didn’t go through any changes at all.

On the contrary, the Norwegian language became similar to Icelandic in the 14th century. It also remained under the influence of Danish and Swedish languages.

The Icelandic language welcomes no change. This is why speakers can understand scripts and texts from the 12th century.

During the 18th century, the Danish became a threat to the integrity of the Icelandic language. This is because, during Danish rule, Danish became the minority language of the country.

However, the significant part is that Icelanders did not support the Icelandic language for literary purposes. Another thing that favors Icelanders over Danish is that Iceland’s inhabitants are scattered all over.

When the Danish tried to rule Iceland, the country’s geographical dispersion discouraged the Danish from settling there. Moreover, the Danish language is different from the Icelandic language.

When the Scandinavian languages were losing their importance in Iceland, the people of Iceland took advantage of old Scandinavian grammar so that the Icelandic language remained in its true form.

The native language of the Bible further enhanced Icelandic. However, the language was restricted in the 19th century, when Iceland emerged as a nation. After that, Scandinavian scholars rediscovered it.

Due to the strict writing of etymological lines, the Icelandic language kept its identity from Scandinavian languages.

  • Modern Form of Icelandic

Icelandic people have reserved the Scandinavian tongue in the best possible way, whether, it is in its writing, grammar, or vocabulary. The language has retained its three genders masculine, feminine, and neuter.

The four cases for nouns are dative, accusative, nominative, and genitive. Even though the language adopted some terms from Celtic, Danish, Latin, and Roma.

The language delicacy in the 19th century replaced many foreign words with Icelandic forms. The best part of the Icelandic language is that Icelanders develop new words despite borrowing words from other languages.

For example, the tolva computer in Icelandic comprises two words tala, meaning number, and volva, meaning fortune teller. Therefore, computer to Icelanders means witch of figures.

One of the dialects of the Icelandic language is Islenska, which describes Icelanders’ mother tongue.

  • Regional Dialects

The foremost thing to note about the Germanic language is that it is not spoken with the many regional variations that you find in so many other languages.

You will hear the Reykjavik language spoken with softer consonants. However, there are no distinct regional variations that separate the different Icelandic dialects.

What is Linguistic Purism?

Are you wondering what linguistic purism is? It is a part of linguistic study that is not only familiar to scholars but also to laypeople. It supports ordinary speakers who support the many mother tongues that haven’t taken training in linguistics. Let’s find out about linguistic purism in Iceland.

Icelandic is an isolated language that has not developed with the help of other languages and it has no relation to other languages. The Icelandic language remained proactive and concerted to maintain its purity.

Language purism in Iceland started in the 18th century. This is because Iceland remained under the control of the Danish until 1380. Moreover, it remained under Norwegian possession until 1841. It is an issue of concern among the Icelandic population because they want their language to retain its true essence and roots.

When Iceland gained independence, it gave more importance to linguistic purism. The linguistic purism made Iceland recognize Icelandic sign language for the deaf community in 2011.

At present, the purism movements can be seen in how we treat loanwords. The Icelandic linguistic policy mitigates the use of foreign words and emphasizes using the equivalent Icelandic words.

The new words that have developed from old Icelandic and Old Norse roots are the integrated words that are derived from English and Danish origins.

Which other Languages are Spoken in Iceland?

Although the official language of Iceland is Icelandic, it is not the only language spoken there. Let’s have a look at which other languages are spoken in Iceland.

  • Danish Language

The majority of Icelanders also speak Danish. This is because it is taught in schools and the country is the home to 1,000 native Danish speakers. You can consider Danish the minority language of the country because it was previously used under Danish rule.

  • Different Foreign Languages Spoken in Iceland

Icelandic has survived for many years. As a Gaelic language, it retained its linguistic homogeneity for a long time. However, due to the prevalence of northern trade routes, the linguistic environment is changing a little bit.

The merchants, traders, and clergymen came up with German, Dutch, French, English, and Basque in Iceland. Swedish and Danish are not considered foreign languages as they are geographically spoken near eastern Scandinavia.

Iceland has a population of around 387,758 people. Approximately 93.2% of that population speaks Icelandic. Apart from language purism in the country, Icelanders understand the importance of global and foreign languages.

You will be amazed to know that different Scandinavian languages and English are mandatory in the Icelandic education system. Danish is spoken in Iceland because of its historical ties with Iceland.

Therefore, at present, 0.31% of the total population speaks Danish. English is given importance because of its global importance. Approximately 0.39% of Icelandic inhabitants speak English.

German is the third most spoken language in Iceland. The largest minority community in Iceland is the Polish community. Around 2.71% of people in Iceland speak Polish

The Iceland People’s Proficiency in Other Languages

Despite a few minority languages and the main Icelandic language, you must consider Iceland a monolingual country. However, it is not true. Iceland is a multilingual country. The majority of its population speaks English and Scandinavian languages because they are taught in schools.

Iceland is also providing many economic study programs in English and Scandinavian countries. Therefore, knowledge of both languages is excellent. Icelandic people are taught other languages in schools like French, Spanish, and German.

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Iceland is an Incredible Place to Live

You don’t need to roam around the world for global exposure. If you want to expand your exposure, then there is no better place to do so than by going to Iceland. Iceland has one of the most liberal populations, with a commitment to gender equality and religious and progressive laws.

Iceland ranks fourth out of 168 countries on the Global Social Progress Index. It gained this rank because it provides freedom and access to higher education with full ethnic tolerance.

The literary legacy of Iceland claims that it is a unique community of musicians, artists, and designers. Famous annual events of the world like the Reykjavik Arts Festival, and the Reykjavik International Film Festival attract art lovers from all around the world.

The famous Iceland Academy offers a comprehensive degree in a variety of subjects like design, fine arts, music, theater, and art education.

Film-making is also very popular in Iceland. Therefore, it is the best place for filmmakers to make movies. One of Iceland’s most recent film products is The Force Awakens.

The quality of life in Iceland is very high. People opt to select Iceland because of its cheap educational facilities. For many years, education in Iceland was free.

You will be amazed to know that 5% of Iceland’s students are foreigners, and this number is increasing with time. One amazing thing about Iceland is that it provides free tuition to all public universities.

Wrapping Up

If you want to migrate to Iceland for education or job purposes, then the first thing you need to do is to know what language the people of Iceland speak. It will make your stay in Iceland easy, and you will feel native to the country.

One important thing you should know about the Icelandic language is that the word please does not exist in the language.

The efforts that the Icelandic people made in preserving the Icelandic language and keeping it unique without the influence of other languages are exemplary.

If you are interested in learning the Icelandic language, then no worries, take your time, and meanwhile, you can take the assistance of professional translation services. The trend toward going to Iceland for higher education is very high in developing countries.

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