The Icelandic Language

Even though the Icelandic people speak Icelandic raveling to Iceland Icelandic is one of the Nordic languages, a subgroup of the

Germanic languages. Linguistically it is most closely related to Faeroese and Norwegian.
The origin of the Icelandic language can be traced to the settlement age around A.D. 870-930. Most of the land owning settlers came from Norway, especially Western Norway, but a few travelled from Sweden or came up to Iceland by way of the British isles which was at the time a center for viking activity. Among the settlers were a number of slaves from the British Isles, including Ireland.
The language, which came to prevail in Iceland, was that of the people of Western Norway. It is commonly agreed that a considerable part of the immigrants was of Celtic stock (estimates, based partly on physical-anthropological studies,
vary from 10 to 30 percent). However, the Icelandic language shows only insignificant traces of Celtic influence. The only evidence is a few Celtic loan words and a few personal names and place-names.
Icelandic and Norwegian did not become markedly different until the fourteenth century. From then onwards the two languages became increasingly different. This was for the most part due to changes in the Norwegian language, which had in some cases begun earlier in Danish and Swedish, while Icelandic resisted change, no doubt thanks in part to the rich Icelandic literature of the 12th and following centuries and excellent communication between the four major regions of Iceland. Farmers met at the Alþing, the Icelandic parlement, every summer and resolved differences and set laws.
Resistance to change is one of the characteristics of the Icelandic language, which explains the fact that a twelfth-century text is still relatively easy to read for a modern Icelander. However, Icelandic has undergone considerable change in its phonetics and vocabulary. Another characteristic of the language is its uniformity, i.e. absence of dialects which again can be attributed to the yearly visits to the parlament.
The vast majority of Icelandic speakers—about 320,000—live in Iceland. There are about 8,165 speakers of Icelandic living in Denmark, of whom approximately 3,000 are students. The language is also spoken by 5,112 people in the USA and by 2,170 in Canada (Notably in Gimli, Manitoba), indeed, the word ‘Gimli’ is itself the Icelandic for ‘heaven’. 97% of the population of Iceland consider Icelandic their mother tongue, but in some communities outside Iceland the use of the language is
declining. Icelandic speakers outside Iceland represent recent emigration in almost all cases except Gimli, 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 November 16 each year, the birthday of 19th century poet Jónas Hallgrímsson is celebrated as Icelandic Language Day.