Although the language has evolved and changed since the first settlers arrived (widely considered to have begun in the second half of the ninth century) there is still an emphasis on the preservation of Icelandic, meaning even  the famed Icelandic sagas can still be read and understood today.

Unlike the linguistic similarities between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, the Celtic influence on the language means that it is difficult for other Nordic nations to understand Icelandic, whilst Icelanders can understand their languages very well. Think of it as Old Norse but with a Celtic accent!

A Tongue Twister

Photo by Myllan

Notoriously difficult for foreign tongues to learn and pronounce, and grammatically complex, the roots of the language are North Germanic, Icelandic is thought to be spoken by only around 314,000 people in the entire world. However, as a visitor there is no need to fret as the majority of Icelanders speak excellent English. It is however polite to know a few key words and phrases:

Good day!                     Góðan daginn or daginn      Pronounced: GO-than DY-in/ DY-in 

Thanks/ Thank you     Takk or Takk fyrir                  Pronounced: Takk FEE-rir (rolled r sound)

Yes                                                                             Pronounced: Y-ow

No                                  Nei                                           Pronounced: N-ay

Cheers!                         Skál!                                         Pronounced: SK-owl

Icelandic food - icecream
(Unsplash. Photo Credit: Ryan Yoo)

Emphasis is always placed at the beginning of the word. It may seem hard but it is a really fun language to try and get your mouth around whilst spending time in Iceland!