Icelandic – The language of the Vikings

A 15 year old girl has sued Iceland over her name. Her name, Blaer – which means ‘Light Breeze,’ is not on the list of names that have been approved in the country. Also, her name is generally considered a masculine name therefore, the government decided to change her name to Sultka, which means ‘Girl’ in English. The name Sultak has been included in all her official documents. Iceland has strict policies when it comes to choosing baby names. Parents can only pick their baby’s names from an approved list of names. In addition, unisex names are not allowed and an individual cannot have more than 3 names. You cannot have a name that starts with the letter ‘C’ as C is not included in the Icelandic alphabet.

About 300,000 people speak this North Germanic language in Iceland. Icelandic is also spoken in Canada and in the USA. Icelandic speakers in the US and Canada migrated from Iceland in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The first settlers in Iceland arrived during the 9th century. These were Vikings from Norway and the Celts from the British Isles and they spoke Old Norse, which is a Danish language. Icelandic was reinstated as the language of Iceland in 1944, when the country gained independence from the Danes. Since then, the language has undergone various changes, especially when it comes to the spelling and the pronunciation of words. Icelandic speakers can read Old Norse without too much difficulty.

Language purism affected Icelandic in the early 19th century. The linguistic policy of Iceland demands that instead of adopting new loan words from other languages, new words should be coined in Icelandic or old words revived and given new meanings. The Icelandic language committee is responsible for advising the government and other agencies in the proper use of the Icelandic language. The language was first written using Latin script but Roman script is currently being used. The letters c, z, w and q are rarely used. There are also several symbols in the Icelandic alphabet that are not present in the English alphabet.

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