The history of the Icelandic language

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The Icelandic language is a language spoken by about three hundred thousand people worldwide. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is regarded as the official government and standard common language in Iceland. Icelandic probably evolved from Old Norse dialects spoken in the early Middle Ages in Scandinavia which are regarded as the language of the Vikings. Since then, Icelandic has changed very little and is therefore still similar to Old Norse. Therefore, the grammar of Old Norse in Icelandic remained almost completely unchanged, while only the pronunciation is different. Icelandic evolved in relation to its remote and inhospitable location for centuries and was not influenced by other languages and therefore has largely been preserved. Do you have business documents that must be translated into or from Icelandic, from among one of our 150 languages, then contact us! We will certainly find the best translator for your project. Our native speakers know the target language inside out and can accurately translate these texts. We are looking forward to your call and your email!

Preserved language

The proportion of loanwords in the rich and diverse Icelandic language is small. Only the part of Iceland that was held by Denmark seems to have had any significant impact from other languages. In recent times, interactions with the English language are clear, because many Anglicisms have now become part of the Icelandic language. Also, the Icelandic language seems to be very old, indeed. There are numerous traditions, for example, from the early Middle Ages: Myths, poems, legends and epics, which are written in a highly formal language of poetry. The Icelandic alphabet is mostly the same as the Latin alphabet. There are, however, some historical characters mainly used, in particular, to indicate diphthongs or typical Icelandic long vowels. In the twentieth century, the Icelandic language underwent a spelling reform which was designed to contribute to harmonization and simplification. Also, the grammar is as varied and colorful as the vocabulary of the Icelandic language. This often represents a significant challenge due to the complexity for learners. Therefore, you should be sure that your Icelandic translations are completed by a native speaker. Native speakers have grown up with the language and know all the linguistic subtleties. We find this guarantees the right translator for your project – no matter what area. Test us and our competency, just contact us!

Linguistic purism

In recent times, attempts have been made to rid the Icelandic language from foreign influences and loanwords. This “language purist” movement has a long tradition with Icelanders. Such efforts should comprehensively help preserve the culture of Iceland and the Icelandic language which has traditionally been free of loanwords and to preserve the language for the future. This is difficult particularly in science which utilizes many Latinisms and international terminology. However, the Icelandic Language Commission was established in mid-20th century oversees the purity of the Icelandic language which then publishes catalogs of new word creations and allowed terminology. Language is the ultimate symbol of national identity in Iceland.


Boris Rösch
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