Iceland Mag

16 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Ask the Expert

Where does the Icelandic language stem from?

By Sara McMahon

  • Old manuscripts. Icelandic is an Indo-European language, closely related to Norwegian and Faroese. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

Icelandic is an Indo-European language, belong ing to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages, and closely related to Norwegian and Faroese. Icelandic and Norwegian were very similar at first but that changed around the fourteenth century and from there on the difference between the two languages only increased. This was mostly due to developments in Norwegian while Icelandic resisted change – this resilience is one of the main characteristics of the language. (source:en.wikipedia.org and visindavefurinn.is)

Language purism has been the linguistic policy in Iceland since the late 18th century. Instead of adopting foreign words, new ones are coined or old words given a new, modern meaning. This task is done by the Icelandic Language Committee, Íslensk málnefnd, which consists of sixteen specialists from different organisations

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