Icelandic Language Strengthened in “Landmark” Initiative

Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Katrín Jakobsdóttir

The Icelandic government has announced what it is calling a “landmark” initiative to strengthen the Icelandic language. The initiative includes 19 measures to support the preservation and development of Icelandic, many aimed at supporting immigrants’ language learning. Expected to cost at least ISK 1.4 billion [$9.9 million; €9.1 million], the initiative will receive additional funding over the coming years.

The initiative was announced at a press conference yesterday by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Culture and Trade Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, and Social Affairs and Labour Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson. It is a collaborative project between five ministries and was developed in a cross-ministerial committee on the Icelandic language established last November. The initiative will be introduced to Parliament as a parliamentary resolution in the coming days.

Icelandic as a second language support

The 19 measures of the initiative include work-related Icelandic lessons for immigrants alongside work, improving the quality of Icelandic education for immigrants, and establishing online studies in Icelandic and Icelandic as a second language. One of the measures is supporting Icelandic language education for staff of preschools and after-school centres. The initiative also aims to provide additional support for Icelandic language technology as well as Icelandic subtitling and dubbing.

Iceland Review has regular coverage of the latest in Icelandic language programs and policies. For more on the government policy surrounding Icelandic language education for immigrants, read Nothing to Speak Of.

Icelandic Language Day Celebrated

book bookstore Icelandic literature bækur

Today is Icelandic Language Day, celebrated in Iceland annually on November 16. The goal of the day is to remember the importance of the Icelandic language within Icelandic society and celebrate its past, present, and future.

Icelandic is an Indo-European language, belonging to the group of Germanic languages. This group also includes Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Faroese. Of these languages, Faroese and Norwegian are the most closely related to Icelandic. The Icelandic language is notable for its relative stability over the past millennium: modern Icelandic speakers can read and understand the Icelandic sagas, written around a thousand years ago.

Icelandic Language Day will be celebrated today with an official program of events in the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavík. The events include the presentation of the Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize and will be streamed live on the government website. November 16 was chosen for the holiday as it is the birth date of Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845). Jónas was an Icelandic poet and translator and a strong advocate for Iceland’s independence from Denmark.

Iceland Review regularly covers stories related to the Icelandic language, including why many foreigners struggle to learn Icelandic and the future of Icelandic language technology. For readers interested in learning the Icelandic language, this list of online resources is a good place to start.