Before the New Testament in 1540. Icelandic

Before the the Icelandic language was given its name, it was first called Íslenska.  This language has suffered many hardships and is struggling to stay alive.  In Iceland, the Icelandic language fills the small country with a source of identity and pride.  While Icelandic may be a slowly dying language, I still feel it is important that others know about every aspect of this scarcely spoken language.  In this paper I will go into detail about the origin of the Icelandic language, the influence of other countries on Icelandic, the statistics and linguistics, the concerns of the language dying, trade, Icelandic in other countries, and the official language of Iceland’s deaf community. The Icelandic language dates back to the translation of the New Testament in 1540.  Icelandic thrived way before it was written down.  It was spoken through songs and tales of adventure.  Before that date the language was considered to be Old Icelandic.  Icelandic was thought to have came directly from Old Norse; while the language may have been based on Old Norse, Faroese is the modern language most like Icelandic.  The Icelandic language is considered to be part of the Indo-European family.  “This group once numbered five languages, including Norwegian, Faroese (the native language of those living on the Faroe Islands, which is also spoken in parts of Denmark) and the extinct languages of Norn (once spoken in the Northern Islands of Orkney and Shetland, to the north of Scotland) and Greenlandic Norse.” (fluentin3months)  The languages vocabulary has faced many hardships, and is still going through a widespread purity.  “It still has three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), four cases for nouns (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative), several declensions, and complicated pronoun and verb systems that have changed little since the classical period.”(Encyclopædia Britannica)  The Icelandic language has desperately tried to keep their language as close to Old Icelandic as possible, and as a result Iceland’s people can still read ancient texts today.Over many years, Iceland has managed to keep the influence of other countries out of their nation’s language. This is mainly due to the fact that Iceland lives in isolation, and is not exposed much to the outer world.  Despite the Danish’s many attempts, their language never truly took hold in the small European country.  The threat of the Danish language was one of the main reasons that an urgent need for the purification of the Icelandic language began.  One man who pushed heavily for the Icelandic language to be without influence of other languages would be, Eggert Ólafsson.  He was an Icelandic writer who was very passionate about his language, and was very familiar with it.  He was the writer of the first orthographic dictionary.  Ólafsson’s work influenced the country greatly, and his work will not be forgotten.Icelandic is rarely spoken out of Iceland, and is a small player in the game of languages.  According to 5 Curious Facts You Never Knew About Iceland, “There are an estimated 350,000 Icelandic speakers in the world, largely comprised by the 323,000-odd people that live in the country of Iceland.  Just 0.005% of the seven billion people on this globe speak Icelandic.”  The amount of Icelandic speaker are dwindling, and will soon turn out just like the dead language of Latin.  Whether Iceland’s people like it or not, it is just a matter of time until the Icelandic language ceases to be spoken at all.  Iceland’s people are desperately to trying to keep their sacred language afloat.  This is not the first time the Icelandic language is on the verge of extinction.  There have been many times that another powerful nations language had threatened to take over. Despite Iceland’s mostly successful attempts at widespread purity, English is more widely spoken by young teens in the country.  This problem is mainly caused by the sudden rise in tourism, which in turn causes more foreign workers coming to the country seeking jobs.  The ideal fix to diminishing the amount of English spoken in this country would be making the primary language of young children Icelandic.  Iceland’s schools are also seeing changes in vocabulary and required reading.  Many important and traditional pieces of literature that have been read by young pupils for centuries are ceasing to be read by students. One of these amazing pieces of literature, according to an article written by the New York Times, would be “a volume from the Sagas of Icelanders, the medieval literature chronicling the island’s early settlers.  Icelanders have long prided themselves on being able to fluently read the epic tales originally written on calfskin.”  The technology world is also facing problems, because computer devices are designed to recognize English and not Icelandic. “Iceland’s Ministry of Education estimates that about $8.8 million is needed for seed funding for an open-access database to help tech developers adapt Icelandic as a language option.” (New York Times)  Trying to restore and preserve the Icelandic language will be a long and difficult road, but will hopefully succeed before this language is in serious trouble. Iceland has many different trade partners from all over the world that they export goods to or receive imported goods from.  One of these closest, and most important, trade partners would be Russia.  Russia is a huge country that helps to greatly support many countries economy by importing or exporting goods.  It has recently placed sanctions on many different countries, and it has thoroughly impacted their economies.  Out of the countries Russia has placed sanctions on, Iceland was hit the hardest.  One of Iceland’s biggest exports to Russia ,and a big contributor to the Icelandic economy, would be seafood.  If Russia continues with these sanctions, Iceland will have to find a substitute for the income that the seafood exports brought to Iceland, or else they will suffer greatly.  Language barriers are always a concern when it comes to trade between two countries.  In this case Russia is such a big and diverse country that there are most likely small communities of Icelandic speakers that help to regulate trade between the two countries.  Due to this situation, language barriers between Iceland and Russia are not as difficult as they are with other countries in the world, which in turn makes trade between the two countries tremendously easier. While Icelandic is mostly contained to its own country, Iceland is not the only place where this language is spoken.  For example, there are small communities in the United States where Icelandic is spoken.  Though the Icelandic immigrants first came through Utah in 1855, most of these Icelandic speaking people ended up in the United States around 1870. These Icelandic people slowing started to congregate and form a small community in Lake Michigan.  A small amount of Icelandic people also live in Canada.  In 1875 they formed a settlement on the Western shore of Lake Winnipeg, and called it “New Iceland”.  Many of these Icelandic settlements slowly started to form in other countries such as, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.  Soon thousands of people in other countries could speak Icelandic, but the number of Icelandic speaker slowly started to go down throughout the years until now there are barely any at all.  Hopefully these small communities found in other countries will start to resurface in order to help preserve the Icelandic language. Another important aspect of Iceland’s country and language would be their sign language.  Icelandic sign language was recognised in 2011, and became the official language of Iceland’s deaf community.  This bill had an enormous impact on the deaf community.  They have been pushing for more equal rights for deaf and hard of hearing people for over twenty years, and this have finally been a step in the right direction.  The Icelandic Association of the Deaf is an association that fights for the rights of the deaf community.  The association meets at a club that is also a place of meeting for youth groups, a club for senior citizens, and a group for deaf parents that have hearing children.  One of this association’s main goals is for the deaf community to meet each other and to feel as if they are accepting into the Icelandic society.  They also help to ensure that technical aids are always available to to those who need them, and that the government will pay and provide them.  The Icelandic Association of the Deaf is desperately fighting to break the social isolation of the deaf, improve the quality of life for the members of the association, and most importantly to fight for the equal rights these people deserve. In conclusion, I hope to have thoroughly explained and covered the Icelandic language from every angle.  Icelandic is a very unique and intriguing language; it is a sign of pride and unity for the small European country, and it is an absolute shame that if serious action is not taken to protect this language, it will soon cease to be spoken entirely.