Iceland is a European country with a population of 357,050. With an area of 103,000 square kilometers, it is the most sparsely populated country of the continent. The country is known for its volcanos that erupt every few years. The eruptions are small and therefore not harmful to the people. They are also very beautiful to look at from a distance. Iceland is called the land of fire and ice due to its icy mountains and lava-filled volcanoes. It came under Danish rule in 1523 and it wasn’t until after the French Revolution that this country declared independence in 1918. It relied heavily on fishing and agriculture until the 20th century.
The economy of Iceland today is considered remarkable by many analysts. It offers a universal healthcare system to its citizens. On the Global Peace Index, it ranks first. United Nations’ Human Development Index declared this country the sixth most developed country in the world in 2018. The country is known for its various social features like equality, social and democratic stability. Since a law took effect in 2018, it has become illegal in this land for employers to pay women less than men.
Interesting Facts about Iceland:
It is considered one of the most peaceful countries in the world. The police do not carry guns there. In all of its history, only one person was ever shot by the police. Another remarkable thing about this place is that it runs completely on renewable energy. The rest of the world can learn something from it. The parliament of Iceland, founded in 930, is one of the oldest parliaments in the world.
The country has strong ties to the Vikings as they were the ones who settled here first and gave both this place and Greenland their respective names. Yes, they misnamed the lands and here is why: Vikings named the place Iceland thinking it would discourage other settlers to come there. And they didn’t care if someone went to the ice-covered Greenland. There are plenty of other stories about the origin of the names of these two countries but in any case, it was Vikings who gave them their confusing names.
The Language of Iceland:
Icelandic is an Insular Nordic language that belongs to the huge group of North Germanic languages. Like other North Germanic languages, it also descended from Old Norse. It is the official language of Iceland and has 358,000 native speakers according to a study conducted in 2013. Although only 0.005% of the Earth’s total population speak this lexicon, it does attract linguistics’ attention due to its interesting history. The most fascinating thing about it is that it has remained, more or less, unchanged from medieval times. The country takes necessary measures to keep the native tongue free of variations. In order to keep the vernacular pure and free of loanwords, the country has created a committee tasked with creating Icelandic words for new things and objects like iPhones.
This lexicon is known for having hard-to-pronounce words but it also has some interesting aspects. The longest word in this native tongue has 64 letters. Even after a thousand year, this vernacular has gone through only a few changes. The people of this land can still read old texts from the 12th century.
Words cannot always be created for new things so loanwords are taken from other languages and their spellings are altered to make them look Icelandic. Common examples of this practice are the word frík used for freak and plís for, please. Icelandic is considered a dead language by some linguists because the majority of its native speakers reside in Iceland.
Vikings were not only the ones who settled in Iceland but also the people who brought their language to this land. Their Old Norse evolved into Icelandic and has remained in this land since then with only a few changes. Before it was saved in written form, it thrived mainly in the form of songs, poems, and stories. This form of oral culture kept it alive in people’s hearts by associating it with interesting stories and melodious songs. The oldest texts in this vernacular that were preserved dates back to the year 1100. Icelandic Sagas is the most famous ancient texts of this language. They were written in the 12th century and can still be read by native speakers due to there being minimum changes in the language. Although the Danish-ruled over this land from 1380 to 1918, their language never affected Icelandic. The same can be said for the British and later American occupation of the country during the second world war when English failed to influence the native language. The native speakers of the language have been making up new words since 1800 to avoid borrowing words from other languages.
The more prominent change between the old form of this native tongue and the modern one is the change in the pronunciation of vowels. But as far as the written form of the language is concerned, it is mostly the same as it used to be in the 13th century.
Although Icelandic is only thriving thanks to its native speakers that does not mean it is not a colorful and interesting language. The hard-to-pronounce words have always attracted linguists and made them study the language in detail. The purism of this language is also of great interest for the linguists as most vernaculars do not preserve their originality with such enthusiasm. The natives should be credited for valuing their language and keeping it safe from the influence of other languages.