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Icelandic language

North Germanic language / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Icelandic (/sˈlændɪk/ ; Icelandic: íslenska, pronounced [ˈis.t͡lɛn.ska] ) is a North Germanic language spoken by about 314,000 people, the vast majority of whom live in Iceland, where it is the national language.[1] Since it is a West Scandinavian language, it is most closely related to Faroese, western Norwegian dialects, and the extinct language Norn. It is not mutually intelligible with the continental Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) and is more distinct from the most widely spoken Germanic languages, English and German. The written forms of Icelandic and Faroese are very similar, but their spoken forms are not mutually intelligible.[2]

Quick facts: Icelandic, Pronunciation, Native to, Eth...
Native toIceland
Native speakers
357,069 (2018)
Early forms
Latin (Icelandic alphabet)
Icelandic Braille
Official status
Official language in
Flag_of_Iceland.svg Iceland
Flag_of_the_Nordic_Council_2016.svg Nordic Council
Regulated byÁrni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies[lower-alpha 1]
Language codes
ISO 639-1is
ISO 639-2ice (B)
isl (T)
ISO 639-3isl
Iceland, where Icelandic is the majority language
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The language is more conservative than most other Germanic languages. While most of them have greatly reduced levels of inflection (particularly noun declension), Icelandic retains a four-case synthetic grammar (comparable to German, though considerably more conservative and synthetic) and is distinguished by a wide assortment of irregular declensions. Icelandic vocabulary is also deeply conservative, with the country's language regulator maintaining an active policy of coining terms based on older Icelandic words rather than directly taking in loanwords from other languages.

Aside from the 300,000 Icelandic speakers in Iceland, Icelandic is spoken by about 8,000 people in Denmark,[3] 5,000 people in the United States,[4] and more than 1,400 people in Canada,[5] notably in the region known as New Iceland in Manitoba which was settled by Icelanders beginning in the 1880s.

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.[6]

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