Icelandic can hardly be called a wide-spread language: only around 400,000 people speak it worldwide, and most of them reside in the small island country of Iceland. It may also be relatively hard to learn, with its complex system of inflections and tricky pronunciation. However, these things should not scare you away from learning Icelandic.
Learning the Icelandic language can be very rewarding for a number of good reasons – let us take a look at some of them.
It provides great linguistic insights
Icelandic is a very old language. It has been maintained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years, with very few borrowings from other languages, and comes very close to Old Norse, the ancestral language of Scandinavian languages. Knowing Icelandic, therefore, gives you an insight into language developments in northern Europe and the history of Vikings or, more generally, in Scandinavian history.
It provides great cultural opportunities
Speaking Icelandic allows you to connect more closely with locals and natives in Iceland. You can understand Iceland’s culture and Icelander’s way of thinking. That is especially interesting because Iceland is such a remote and isolated country which helped it maintain its historical values and it also developed in its own authentic way without much influence from the outside.
It is necessary if you are planning to stay in Iceland for a long time or permanently
Although practically everyone in Iceland speaks some English, you won’t be able to get by with English only if you are planning for any sort of long-term residence. Without knowledge of Icelandic, you will always distance yourself somewhat and you will be more likely to be out of touch with current national and local affairs.
It is a way to make great friends in a friendly community
Despite the population of Iceland hardly reaching above 300,000 the nation has become known as one of the happiest and most welcoming in the world. Any trip to Iceland will include chance encounters with local people who are determined to make sure your stay in the country is as happy and filled with fun as possible.
Speaking a little Icelandic will be a great icebreaker to make sure a local person will invite you to a party or get-together with locals in their most impressive bars and clubs. By speaking a little Icelandic, the true identity of the nation and its population will be revealed to you when you finally make your way to the country and start talking to local people.
It can help you stand out when applying to colleges and/or for a job
Icelandic is a language not commonly studied outside of Scandinavia, taking a backseat to more commonly studied languages like French, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, Mandarin or Japanese. That is why you would really stand out amongst potential employees and students if you had knowledge of Icelandic on your resume or college applications.
It is an interesting and beautiful language
Some of the aspects of Icelandic, as the complex inflection system, may take some getting used to. But it is a very interesting language with a unique sound and its own beauty that you will definitely enjoy learning. Furthermore, although the language is not very widespread, there are a lot of resources available for learning it, so you will never have to worry about finding learning materials.
It provides all the common benefits of language learning
Learning a new language keeps the mind young and sharp. It has been proven that using more than one language decreases your risk for age-related mental degeneration and can even increase your IQ. Mastering a language as complex as Icelandic will certainly give your intelligence a significant boost.
As you can see, Icelandic is a unique and interesting language that can offer you some great opportunities and fun challenges, which makes it very well worth learning.