Looking to learn Icelandic

My mother’s Icelandic, and I’m off in college. I never learned to speak Icelandic, but I’ve become a bit of a cognate in general, so I understand Icelandic conversation and writing with few problems (well, this applies to other languages as well, like French, some Spanish and German). Is there anyone out there that could recommend to me what book(s) out there are going to be a good resource for me to learn to speak Icelandic and actually understand how to form the grammar structures that aren’t common anymore in other languages? I might just go to the consulate in Tallahassee and ask if he has any hints or would be willing to assist me in my pursuit by introducing me to some Icelandic students (there’s at least a few in the area). I guess I went here first to get some information in print that’s not quite nearly as vague as half the crap they sell on Amazon.com for learning Icelandic.

As for the grammar, I would recommend the book Icelandic: grammar texts glossary by Stefán Einarsson as a starting place. The paperback edition is reasonably priced, and the first 180 pp. deals with grammar.

Since you’re looking for advice, I’ll move this thread to IMHO.

yahoo’s home page has some pretty good links under social sciences>languages et al…

Gee, I thought the topic was “Learning to Look Icelandic.”

Fifteen Iguana

Fifteen Iguana, I’m half Icelandic and I look more Russian than anything else in my bloodline… unfortunately, for some reason people confuse me for being all sorts of Asian, the last mistake being Hawaiian. :rolleyes:


While I’m sure I’m not the only Icelandic poster on these boards, I’m the only one I’ve seen who does more than lurk. I don’t know of many books that will aid non-native speakers to learn the language, but if you’re planning to study Icelandic I can give you a sort of part-time tutoring via e-mail if you like. Having a contact is the surest way to keep in touch with the way people are really speaking a given language today, not just the way the books are teaching it.

hveiti@yahoo.com. Feel free. :slight_smile:

I’d second the Einarsson grammar. I own the hardback, and even that was reasonably priced.

LOVE Iceland…was only there once on a two day layover (Icelandic Air to Europe) in the late 70’s, but fell in love with the place and the people.

However, that said, back then I was told that Icelandic is a “dead” language - meaning under 200,000 people on earth speak it and is projected to disappear in a few generations. Is this still the case? (Or am I woefully misinformed?)

(Sorry for the hijack all, but I don’t really think it likely that there’s enough general interest in the subject I’m about to elaborate on to justify it standing alone as a thread)

Given the changes Icelandic (at least the spoken language) has undergone since 1979, when I was born, I think I can fairly safely say that the base of it (basic conceptual structures and the like) are going to be around for more than a few generations. That said, there is an alarming decrease each generation in the willingness to properly study Icelandic’s relatively complicated system of grammar, resulting in quite a few young people whose jumbled grammar (and English slang words) confounds members of older generations. There’s also a marked increase in people’s propensity to use english grammar, especially with the increase in monocultural influences (the “Americanization,” as some like to call it) the last 20 or so years have brought.

I don’t know what language experts are projecting, but based on my (admittedly completely unscientific) feeling, I’d say the language is gonna mutate quite a bit as new words are assimilated from other languages (as is bound to happen - world growing smaller and all that), but at a basic level it’s going to stay the same. Its foundation is so dissimilar to most other languages that it’s gonna take a while to chip away at it.

Then again, you never know what other changes time’s gonna bring, so any projection on this is inherently flawed because it can’t anticipate the wild cards humanity tends to throw onto the gaming table of History. But I’m starting to digress from my digression, so I think I’ll just stop here. :slight_smile:

Well, fnoonf I for one think it would be worthy of its own thread. I’m fascinated by this stuff myself.

Do you mean to say that the younger generation is speaking the languange in a more English-like way? Dropping the grammatical inflections and using word-order to indicate the function of a word in a sentence?

Being a native English speaker and later fluent in German, I always thought that the Norse languages were interesting in that the mainland Scandinavian grammars had become morphologically simpler than German, in fact almost like English. On the other hand, Icelandic stayed much more inflected than German.

It’s funny you should post this, because I’m learning to look Icelandic.

When travelling in Iceland, enjoy our “Icelandic Honey Week”

"We are a gloomy people. It’s so crikey cold and dark up there, and only fish to eat. Fish and imported honey. Oh strewth! "

If it makes any difference, I’m pretty sure it still won’t help you understand bj0rn.

Nothing could help you understand bj0rn.

Mirrored Indigo Shadows, my mother is also Icelandic, and I took a course in Icelandic. It’s quite difficult, but I think knowing the language would be a wonderful thing. My Ami and Afi spoke Icelandic at home, but my mom and the other 6 children didn’t keep it once they left the farm. In our family, the last fluent Icelandic speaker passed away a few years ago. It’s funny how we retain the cadence and even some of the words from the language, even though I have never been fluent by any stretch of the imagination.

Best wishes to you. I wish I had kept at it.

Well, I was going to recommend the book “Teach Yourself Icelandic” because I’ve used that series for several of the languages I speak, but it looks like all they’ve done is reprint the edition dating from the 50s or 60s, and that book’s particular approach has nothing to do with actual conversation.

You might check out Routledge’s Colloquial Icelandic - their series is more modern and focuses on the conversational as well as the grammar. Haven’t encountered the Einarsson at all, but I suggest comparing the two and figuring out which book seems more in tune with your abilities.