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Where can I find resources for learning Icelandic?
Which Scandinavian language should I start with if I ultimately want to learn Icelandic? Faroese is the language closest to Icelandic. Icelanders can understand more Faroese than vice versa, due mostly to Faroese’s usage of international loan words that Icelanders understand but do not use, with Icelanders’ having opted to coin neologisms from native Old Norse stock rather than import wholesale foreign words into their lexicon. An example. “international” is translated into Iceland mic as “alþjóð,” which means literally “all-nations.” This keeps the language as pure as possible, although there are around 15 foreign loan words in Icelandic, mostly having to do with religion and education, such as “prestur” (“priest”), and “prófessor” and “dócent,” which don’t require translation. All the above having been said, Faroese and Icelanders understand each other just fine, although Icelanders tend to find Faroese pronunciation amusing in a country-bumpkin kind of way. The Faroese view the Icelanders as the real Master Race (screw the Nazis) and revere them as the direct descendants of Óðin and Þór . . . (just kidding!) I don’t think that in reality the Faroese worry too much about what the Icelanders think of them, since “the Faroe Islands are more spectacular than Iceland. So, there! .-P” Jokes aside, the only other mainland Scandinavian language that even remotely approaches Faroese and ultimately, Icelandic is Nynorsk. Bokmål is a direct development from Danish (hence the former designation of Norwegian as “Dano-Norwegian”), and as such belongs to East Scandinavian family, to which Danish and Swedish also belong. Nynorsk, Faroese and Icelandic all belong to the West Scandinavian family. I listen to Intenet radio in Faroese from time to to time, and I recall once hearing an entire conversation between a Nynorsk-speaking Norwegian and a Faroese speaking Faroese. Learning Nynorsk wil give you a leg up to learning Faroese, and thereafter Icelandic. However, bear in mind that only 40,000 people speak Faroese, as opposed to a million or so Nynorsk-speakers. Nynorsk however will also give you access to Bokmål and Swedish, as well as Danish, although I would recommend accessing Danish though learning Bokmål Norwegian, since t are basically the same language, just with an enormously different phonology. Here’s an idea. Why not learn all of them like I did? T’re a lot of fun, t’ll work those linguistic neurons of yours, and take up any extra time that you don’t know what to do with .) NB. Do not be tempted to speak to Icelanders in Danish. I heard first-hand from Icelanders during my first visit there. “Við rum ekki dönsku gjarna hérna á Íslandi!” (“We don’t like hearing Danish here in Iceland!”), which echoes their sentiments towards Denmark following the 200-year Danish Trade Monopoly. Hope this helps.
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Hans My name is Hans Peter, and I am a native speaker of English, Norwegian, Danish and Icelandic as well as a native speaker of Japanese. I am an experienced foreign worker in the hospitality and health service industries, but I speak English as well as my native languages. I am happy to provide feedback about my native dialects on this blog (and on other English-speaking dialect websites), but if you find your dialects are not being discussed please use the comments section, as we are all linguists in one way or another, and I will be happy to assist you in any way that I can.