Language - Icelandic language

Language  >  Icelandic language

Icelandic language

Icelandic (íslenska ) is a North Germanic language spoken in Iceland. Along with Faroese, Norn, and Western Norwegian it formerly constituted West Nordic; while Danish, Eastern Norwegian and Swedish constituted East Nordic. Modern Norwegian Bokmål is influenced by both groups, leading the Nordic languages to be divided into mainland Scandinavian languages and Insular Nordic (including Icelandic). Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages until the Portuguese settlement in the Azores.

Most Western European languages have greatly reduced levels of inflection, particularly noun declension. In contrast, Icelandic retains a four-case synthetic grammar comparable to German, though considerably more conservative and synthetic. Icelandic is distinguished by a wide assortment of irregular declensions. Icelandic also has many instances of oblique cases without any governing word, much like Latin. The conservatism of the Icelandic language and its resultant near-isomorphism to Old Norse (which is equivalently termed Old Icelandic by linguists) means that modern Icelanders can easily read the Eddas, sagas, and other classic Old Norse literary works created in the tenth through thirteenth centuries.

Icelandic is closely related to, but not mutually intelligible with the Faroese language, and is also not mutually intelligible with the continental Scandinavian languages. It is also farther away from the largest Germanic languages English and German than those three are.

The vast majority of Icelandic speakers—about 320,000—live in Iceland. More than 8,000 Icelandic speakers live in Denmark, of whom approximately 3,000 are students. The language is also spoken by some 5,000 people in the United States and by more than 1,400 people in Canada, notably in the province of Manitoba. While 97% of the population of Iceland consider Icelandic their mother tongue, the language is in decline in some communities outside Iceland, particularly in Canada. Icelandic speakers abroad represent recent emigration in almost all cases except Gimli, Manitoba, which was settled from the 1880s onwards.

The state-funded Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies serves as a centre for preserving the medieval Icelandic manuscripts and studying the language and its literature. The Icelandic Language Council, comprising representatives of universities, the arts, journalists, teachers, and the Ministry of Culture, Science and Education, advises the authorities on language policy. Since 1995, on 16 November each year, the birthday of 19th-century poet Jónas Hallgrímsson is celebrated as Icelandic Language Day.

The oldest preserved texts in Icelandic were written around 1100 AD. Many of the texts are based on poetry and laws traditionally preserved orally. The most famous of the texts, which were written in Iceland from the 12th century onward, are the Icelandic Sagas. They comprise the historical works and the eddaic poems.

The language of the sagas is Old Icelandic, a western dialect of Old Norse. The Dano-Norwegian, then later Danish rule of Iceland from 1536 to 1918 had little effect on the evolution of Icelandic (in contrast to the Norwegian language), which remained in daily use among the general population. Though more archaic than the other living Germanic languages, Icelandic changed markedly in pronunciation from the 12th to the 16th century, especially in vowels (in particular, á, æ, au, and y/ý).

The modern Icelandic alphabet has developed from a standard established in the 19th century, primarily by the Danish linguist Rasmus Rask. It is based strongly on an orthography laid out in the early 12th century by a mysterious document referred to as The First Grammatical Treatise by an anonymous author, who has later been referred to as the First Grammarian. The later Rasmus Rask standard was a re-creation of the old treatise, with some changes to fit concurrent Germanic conventions, such as the exclusive use of k rather than c. Various archaic features, as the letter ð, had not been used much in later centuries. Rask's standard constituted a major change in practice. Later 20th-century changes include the use of é instead of je and the removal of z from the Icelandic alphabet in 1973.

Apart from the addition of new vocabulary, written Icelandic has not changed substantially since the 11th century, when the first texts were written on vellum. Modern speakers can understand the original sagas and Eddas which were written about eight hundred years ago. The sagas are usually read with updated modern spelling and footnotes but otherwise intact (as with modern English readers of Shakespeare). With some effort, many Icelanders can also understand the original manuscripts.

Country

Iceland

Iceland (Ísland ) is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of and an area of 103000 km2, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

According to the ancient manuscript Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in 874 AD when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent settler on the island. In the following centuries, Norwegians, and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians, emigrated to Iceland, bringing with them thralls (i.e., slaves or serfs) of Gaelic origin. The island was governed as an independent commonwealth under the Althing, one of the world's oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Following a period of civil strife, Iceland acceded to Norwegian rule in the 13th century. The establishment of the Kalmar Union in 1397 united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Iceland thus followed Norway's integration into that union, coming under Danish rule after Sweden's secession from the union in 1523. Although the Danish kingdom introduced Lutheranism forcefully in 1550, Iceland remained a distant semi-colonial territory in which Danish institutions and infrastructures were conspicuous by their absence. In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Iceland's struggle for independence took form and culminated in independence in 1918 and the founding of a republic in 1944. Until the 20th century, Iceland relied largely on subsistence fishing and agriculture, and was among the poorest countries in Europe. Industrialisation of the fisheries and Marshall Plan aid following World War II brought prosperity and Iceland became one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 1994, it became a part of the European Economic Area, which further diversified the economy into sectors such as finance, biotechnology, and manufacturing.

Language

Icelandic language (English)  Lingua islandese (Italiano)  IJslands (Nederlands)  Islandais (Français)  Isländische Sprache (Deutsch)  Língua islandesa (Português)  Исландский язык (Русский)  Idioma islandés (Español)  Język islandzki (Polski)  冰岛语 (中文)  Isländska (Svenska)  Limba islandeză (Română)  アイスランド語 (日本語)  Ісландська мова (Українська)  Исландски език (Български)  아이슬란드어 (한국어)  Islannin kieli (Suomi)  Bahasa Islan (Bahasa Indonesia)  Islandų kalba (Lietuvių)  Islandsk (Dansk)  Islandština (Česky)  İzlandaca (Türkçe)  Исландски језик (Српски / Srpski)  Islandi keel (Eesti)  Islandčina (Slovenčina)  Izlandi nyelv (Magyar)  Islandski jezik (Hrvatski)  ภาษาไอซ์แลนด์ (ไทย)  Islandščina (Slovenščina)  Islandiešu valoda (Latviešu)  Ισλανδική γλώσσα (Ελληνικά)  Tiếng Iceland (Tiếng Việt) 
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