Why choose ITC for your Icelandic translation projects?

Over the years, ITC has developed a strong network of translators whose native language is Icelandic These linguists have passed several rounds of tests and are evaluated regularly. In addition, the ITC project managers have drawn up language guides to help translators follow the specific rules that apply to Icelandic.

History of the language: translation into Icelandic

Icelandic is the language spoken in Iceland, a Nordic island situated between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. With a size of 103,000 km2 but a population of only 330,000, it is Europe’s most sparsely populated country and its capital, Reykjavik, is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. The settlement of Iceland began in the ninth century AD and the land was considered fully settled by the turn of the millennium. Most settlers came from Western Norway, although there was also a number of slaves and settlers of Gaelic origin. Besides a handful Icelandic words that seem to derive from Gaelic, the latter seem to have had little influence on the predominant language in the new community, which was a western dialect of Old Norse. The oldest preserved texts in Icelandic were written in the 12th century and the language, in its written form, has undergone relatively little changes in the subsequent centuries, compared to other North Germanic languages, although pronounciation has changed considerably, especially since the great vowel shift of the 12th to 16th century. Centuries of Danish colonial rule (Iceland gained independence in 1944) had little permanent effect on the language, bar a handful of loanwords.

Specific features of the Icelandic language

Icelandic is a highly inflected language with four cases (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive) and three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine and neuter). Nouns, adjectives and pronouns are declined in the four cases, and for number in the singular and plural, while verbs are conjugated for tense, mood, person, number and voice. The Icelandic alphabet is a Latin alphabet with 32 letters. These include the consonants Ð (anglicised as “eth” or “edh”) and Þ (or “thorn”), the latter of which is no longer used in any other living language. Largely due to the linguistic purism movement started in the early 19th century (fuelled by Romanticism and the Icelandic national movement), there has been a concerted effort to keep foreign words out of the language, instead creating new vocabulary to reflect the evolution of new concepts and technology by forming new words out of Old Norse roots or recycling archaic words and giving them new meaning. As a result, many “international” terms (such as “computer” or “radio”) that have been incorporated into a number of languages can not be found in modern Icelandic, having been replaced by Icelandic neologisms.