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Icelandic children have better comprehension of English than Icelandic, says speech pathologist

By Staff

  • Worried Pathologist and linguist Linda Björk Markúsardóttir expresses concern over Icelandic children’s deteriorating vocabulary skills. Photo/Valli

In an open letter published in Fréttablaðið on Tuesday, speech pathologist and linguist Linda Björk Markúsardóttir expresses concern over Icelandic children’s deteriorating vocabulary skills. She believes increasing computer use has badly affected children’s vocabulary skills and reading comprehension and fears that the Icelandic language might become extinct in the future.

Read more: Where does the Icelandic language stem from?

“More and more often, children with little Icelandic comprehension are being referred to me. I’ll show them pictures of commonplace objects and ask them to tell me the object’s name. Often I’ll receive answers such as: “I know what this is, I just don’t know what it’s called in Icelandic”. When I ask whether they know the object’s name in English, they’re quick to reply,” she wrote.

Old Icelandic and modern Icelandic was the topic of this comedy sketch. 

Read more: The ugliest and prettiest words in Icelandic

The cause, she says, is the modern child’s extensive computer use: “Today’s children and teenagers exist in a highly technological world and most computer and phone settings are in English.”

Read more: Fear that the Nordic tradition of patronymic surnames will die out should naming laws be changed

The result is a child with better comprehension of English than Icelandic. A worrying development, according to experts. 

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