Icelandic is the official language in Iceland. It is an Indo-European language and belongs to the Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. It is similar to Old Norse and closely related to Norwegian and Faroese, rather than Danish or Swedish. The language developed around the settlers of Iceland and in the beginning Icelandic and Norwegian were very similar, but with time both languages changed and around the year 1400 they had become rather different and they still are today.

There are around 350.000 people who speak Icelandic and most of them live in Iceland, but people who speak Icelandic can also be found all over the world, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, US and Canada. The Icelandic language hasn’t changed much throughout the centuries even though it's a very old language. Every time there is a new invention there is a special word committee in Iceland that makes up a new Icelandic word to prevent the language from changing. Sometimes people use these words but some of them don’t get as popular and as people of Iceland are starting to learn English at younger age than before, they sometimes like to stick with the English version instead. So if you listen to Icelanders speak you might notice that sometimes English words are used in between the Icelandic words.

In recent years English has become the second language of Iceland and most people in Iceland speak good English. So if you don’t speak Icelandic you don’t have to worry, Iceland is a friendly country and most people will be patient to assist you. If you don’t speak English or Icelandic there are many people in Iceland that speak other languages, including the Nordic languages, Spanish, French, Italian and German.

Don’t be shy and try to speak Icelandic! Here are some phrases that are good to begin with:

  • Hello - Halló
  • Hi - Hæ
  • Goodbye - Bless
  • Yes - Já
  • No - Nei
  • See you later - Sjáumst Seinna
  • Thank you - Takk
  • Thank you very much - Takk kærlega
  • Beer - Bjór
  • Cheers - Skál
  • I’m going to have - Ég ætla að fá
  • Nice to meet you - Gaman að kynnast þér
  • Where is… - Hvar er…
  • Glacier - Jökull
  • Volcano - Eldfjall
  • Restaurant - Veitingastaður

If this was to easy for you try these words:

  • Eyjafjallajökull - The name of the famous volcano that erupted in 2010 - Eyja (island) fjalla (mountain) jökull (glacier)
  • Jökulsárlón - Glacier Lagoon
  • Landmannalaugar - One of the most beautiful places of the Icelandic highland

Or try to sing along the hardest karaoke song in the world from Inspired by Iceland