Icelandic Language Day – Ég tala ekki íslensku

posted in: Education | 0

Today is Icelandic Language Day !!!

Iceland MapFlag


Icelandic Language Day (Icelandic: dagur íslenskrar tungu or “day of the Icelandic tongue”) is celebrated on 16 November each year in Iceland.
This date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of the Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson.

The Iceland Minister of Education awards the Jónas Hallgrímsson Award to someone who has “in a unique way contributed to the Icelandic language.

Icelandic is a Germanic language and it’s closest relatives are Danish, Norwegian, Faroese and possibly Swedish. Because Iceland was isolated for so long, the language hasn’t changed as much as these other languages, and is considered the closest to Old Norse (Gammelnorsk) – the language spoken by the Vikings and the first settlers.

Icelandic is rated among the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

The vast majority of Icelanders speak very good to excellent English, especially the younger generations, which makes tourism, shopping and travel in Iceland very easy for many.


Ég tala ekki íslensku

Ég tala ekki íslensku, is Icelandic for “I don’t speak Icelandic”

This T-Shirt can be found in most tourist shops around Iceland, and is a nice souvenir to bring home after your visit there.


Iceland Magazine Article: Here are 10 words and phrases in Icelandic that don’t exist in English:

Don’t get lost in translation. Here are some words in Icelandic that don’t have direct English translations, and a few of them have a cultural reference that you might even consider hilarious.

Gluggaveður (noun)
When the weather seems great when you’re looking through a window from inside, but is actually cold and not so great when you step out without a jacket. Literally means “window-weather”.

Rúntur (noun)
A popular driving route where cars drive slowly round and round, almost bumper-to-bumper.
The verb “að rúnta” is the equivalent of doing a cruise night.

Þórðargleði (noun)
The feeling of pleasure derived from seeing someone fail or suffer misfortune. The German word is well-known: “Schadenfreude” and is quite transparent, meaning “harm-joy.” The Icelandic word entered the language in the 20th century, and its source is the behaviour of an old mean-spirited farmer named Þórður. Literally it means “the joy of Þórður”.

Kviðmágur (noun)
Guys (or girls), who have slept with the same person.
Literally it means “abdomen-brother-in-law”.

Álegg (noun)
A synonym for everything you decide to put on the bread – cheese, jam, ham, paté, or whatever.
Used in the same way as “toppings” for pizza in English.

Dalalæða (noun)
A waist-deep fog that forms during calm nights after a warm and sunny day.
Literally means a fog that sneaks up from the bottom of a valley, “valley-sneak.”

Nenna (verb)
The closest word in English would be “to bother,” but there is no proper equivalent. The word can denote the meaning of being too lazy to do something (ég nenni ekki – I can’t be bothered, or I don’t feel like it), but is also often used almost as “please”: “nennir þú að loka hurðinni?” meaning, would you please close the door?

Sólarfrí (noun)
When staff gets an unexpected day or afternoon off work to enjoy a particularly sunny and warm day.
A reason to celebrate indeed. Literally it means “sun-vacation.”

Þetta reddast (phrase)
Means “it will all work out okay,” but is often used when things look like they won’t work out at all.
The phrase has been described as Iceland’s motto. It can be both an indication of the nation’s general lack of enthusiasm for planning ahead properly, but also, more positively, shows a rich appetite for an easy-going laissez-faire attitude.

Takk fyrir síðast (phrase)
Thanks for the last time (I saw you). A popular phrase that you will also find in other Nordic languages.


University of Iceland offers 6 online Icelandic courses on Icelandic Online allowing anyone with Internet access the possibility of participating for free in a global community of learners of Icelandic. (Iceland Magazine Article: Free online Icelandic course for absolute beginners)

The programme offers a course in survival Icelandic, along with five courses for university students.

  1. Survival Course: For absolute beginners.
    Course includes series of different types of interactive, visual and audio exercises, that help you learn Icelandic for everyday life in a fun and easy way.
  2. Icelandic Online 1: Beginning level course for students of Icelandic.
    CEFR level A1. Level 1 offers two themes: Náttúra (Nature) and Menning (Culture).
  3. Icelandic Online 2: Lower intermediate level course.
    For students of Icelandic, who have already gone through Icelandic Online 1, or have basic skills in Icelandic.
    CEFR level A1/A2.
  4. Icelandic Online 3: Intermediate level course.
    For students of Icelandic, who have already gone through Icelandic Online 1 and 2, or equivalent studies.
    CEFR level A2/B1.
  5. Icelandic Online 4: High intermediate level course.
    For students of Icelandic, who have already gone through Icelandic Online 1, 2 and 3, or equivalent studies.
    CEFR level B1/B2.
  6. Icelandic Online 5: Advanced level course.
    For students of Icelandic, who have already gone through Icelandic Online 1, 2, 3 and 4, or equivalent studies.
    Primary focus of this course is on reading of Icelandic literary texts.
    CEFR level C1.
  7. Icelandic Online+: Two 8-week courses with the aid of a tutor!
    This is a distance-learning course, with special focus on oral and written comprehension, grammar and written production.
    Students receive individual feedback from a tutor on written exercises and instructions regarding grammar and vocabulary.
    This is a non-simultaneous, self-access online course, which means you can study whenever and wherever you like, as long as you have an Internet connection.
    It’s based on the open and free course Icelandic Online, so you will get a good idea of what it looks like if you log in for the free course. However there are additional assignments and individual feedback in the PLUS course, which do not appear in the free course.


Read more: Learn Icelandic using playful drawings of Icelandic words created by an Instagram user


Development of Icelandic Online began in 2000, with the first course was launched in 2004.

The project has been developed at the University of Iceland by The University’s Humanities Research Institute, The Sigurður Nordal Institute, The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages and Department of Icelandic, in collaboration with several international universities that offer courses in Icelandic.

Funding for this project has been provided by EU´s Lingua Project, NordPlus, The Icelandic Research Fund, The Icelandic Ministry of Education and The University of Iceland.



Enjoy Icelandic Language Day !!!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *