Icelandic Language Blog

Happy anniversary, Icelandic! Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs, Icelandic history

Today, on the 16th of November, Icelanders celebrate Dagur íslenskrar tungu, the Icelandic Language Day.

Icelanders have celebrated their language since the year 1995. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jónas Hallgrímsson, an Icelandic poet often called “the most influential Icelandic poet of all times”. He was also a prominent figure during the Icelandic Independence Movement even though he lived most of his life in Denmark, died there in 1845 and was buried there, only to be moved back to Iceland in 1946. Every year on this day the Minister of Education gives an award named after him to someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Icelandic language.

So let’s have some fun with the language today! Here are some amusing sites you can visit to begin with.

Learn Useless Icelandic

A Facebook group that is based on just that, Icelandic that you’ll probably never need. It’s one of the most hilarious Facebook groups on this theme that I’ve visited and strangely enough it actually does help with learning some things about the language. Sometimes I remember some funny sentence that I learned here and realize I now have the words and their gender groups accidentally memorized with no danger of ever forgetting them again. Líður þér einhvern tímann eins og plastpoka? (= Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?)

Your friend, Iceland

Another Facebook group which is fun to follow – every important bit of news ends there very quickly. The link I’ve included takes you to a particular discussion thread that’s full of people’s favourite words in Icelandic. So far the collection includes timeless gems such as “ha?” (= translates both as “huh?” and “excuse me would you mind repeating what you just said?”) and “Eyjafjallajökull” (= mountain islands glacier), cute words and phrases such as “kókómjólk” (= a milk chocolate drink), “elska” (= darling) and “nammi” (= candy) and of course a selection of utter randomness such as “þú ert skrímsli” (= you are a monster), “Hvannadalshnúkur” (= the name of the highest point of Vatnajökull), “vaðlaheiðavegavinnuskúr” (= working shoes of the Vaðlaheiða road) and “að prumpa” (= to fart). Have a look and add your own favourites if you like!

Beygingarlýsing íslensks nútímamáls

This one’s very likely been linked to a couple of times before but I wanted to add it to both balance out the silliness of the first two links and also as a really handy tool for learning all the possible forms of Icelandic words. Just write the word in and search, the program will give you every single inflection the word has. If you’re not certain whether you know the word’s basic form tick the little box below the search field. Remember though that you have to write the words correctly, accents in right places etc. or else you’re risking either getting the wrong word (a single accent can change the whole meaning of a word) or not getting a search result at all.

For those of you who are located in Iceland, Íslenskuþorpið opened today!

I’d like to wish you all a very happy Icelandic Language Day with one of Jónas Hallgrímsson’s most beloved and well-known poems. You can find the English translation here as well as many other works by him.


Ég bið að heilsa!

Nú andar suðrið sæla vindum þýðum,
á sjónum allar bárur smáar rísa
og flykkjast heim að fögru landi Ísa,
að fósturjarðar minnar strönd og hlíðum.

Ó! heilsið öllum heima rómi blíðum
um hæð og sund í drottins ást og friði;
kyssi þið, bárur! bát á fiskimiði,
blási þið, vindar! hlýtt á kinnum fríðum.

Vorboðinn ljúfi! fuglinn trúr, sem fer
með fjaðrabliki háa vegaleysu
í sumardal að kveða kvæðin þín!

Heilsaðu einkum, ef að fyrir ber
engil, með húfu og rauðan skúf, í peysu;
þröstur minn góður! það er stúlkan mín.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!