International Review of Education

, Volume 47, Issue 3–4, pp 379–394 | Cite as

Icelandic: A Lesser-Used Language in the Global Community

  • Halla B. Holmarsdottir


A small nation in the middle of the North Atlantic, Iceland currently has a population of 265,000 (1996). The Iceland language has changed very little since the island was settled some 11 centuries ago. Despite the relatively small number of people who speak the language and irrespective of the globalisation efforts by the international community, which includes the ever-increasing influence of English worldwide, the Icelandic language and culture are stronger than ever. The current volume and variety of publications of Icelandic works in all areas have never been as great. Icelandic is a living and growing language. Growth in vocabulary, in response to recent phenomena like the introduction of new technology, has primarily come about with the development of new words from the language's roots. The near absence of Latin, Greek and, more recently, English or Danish words in Icelandic, is striking. Iceland's language policy is not only a governmental policy. It is a policy that comes from the grassroots with the government and official institutions viewing their job as one of service to the people of Iceland. Icelanders are very proud of their language and are extremely determined to continually develop and preserve it for future generations.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Halla B. Holmarsdottir
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Educational ResearchBlindern, OsloNorway

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