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Icelandic and some of the complexities discussed here are national pride, and Icelanders are very cautious in ensuring that it maintains itself even though the younger generation speaks Icelandic with many words borrowed from English.

Here are 10 things about the Icelandic language that you may not know if you love Iceland you should not ignore this article.


Many words and phrases exist in Icelandic but do not exist in English. Gluggaveður, for example, means ‘weather window and description when the weather seems warm and inviting from inside. When outside, you realize it's cold and windy.

Scandinavian Root Language

Icelandic is the root of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and modern Faroese. When the 9th-century settlers of Iceland from Norway spoke Old Norse, they preserved the language while it developed in other countries into what we know today as the distinct modern Scandinavian languages.

32 Letters in the Alphabet

There are 32 letters in the Icelandic alphabet: the English alphabet plus the letters á, æ, ð, é, í, ó, ö, þ, ú, and ý, and minus the letters c, q, w, and z.

Originally an Oral Language

The use of Latin letters was introduced in the 12th century by monks, at which point Sagas and Eddas were written. Previously, they were part of the oral story tradition

Up to 16 Noun Inflections

An inflected language, Icelandic has modifying words to express different things like the inclusion of an article, gender, voice, case, number, and aspect. The word for horse, for example, is hestur, but it can also appear as hest, hestinn, hesti, hestinum, hests, hestsins, hestar, hesta, hestum, hesta, hestarnir, hestana, hestunum, hestanna depending on the context.

Old Norse

Those who can read modern Icelandic should also read manuscripts written in Nordic languages between the 10th and 13th centuries like Eddas and Sagas.

You can Speak on the Inhale

It is very common to hear a sentence spoken on inhalation instead of pausing to speak.

Constantly Growing

Instead of borrowing foreign words for things like computers and phones, a new word is often taken from an obsolete word that is reused. The word for ‘computer,’ for example, is tölva which literally means "number oracle" and is borrowed from a word used in the Sagas.

Icelandic Naming Committee

Iceland has a naming committee. If parents want to give their children a name that has never been used before, they must first get permission from the naming committee to make sure that it fits into Icelandic grammar rules for the inflections.

Icelandic Movie Titles

Icelanders can get very creative when translating foreign movie titles into Icelandic. For example, Lethal Weapon (1987) is Tveir á toppnum (Two at the Top) or Eyes Wide Shut (1999) which is Haltu mér, slepptu mér (Hold Me, Let Me Go).

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