While most Icelanders speak English, it’s always a good idea to learn some helpful Icelandic phrases. Keep reading to discover some easy Icelandic words. Before long, you’ll sound like a local.
Icelandic is spoken by less than 350.000 people. It has changed remarkably little since the first settlers arrived in the ninth century so modern-day Icelanders can still read the old sagas with relative ease. Iceland wasn’t exactly a prime vacation spot in the olden days you see.
We didn’t have much outside influence until the 20th century but in the past decades’ internationalization has exposed us to more and more slang. Many have become concerned about the state of the Icelandic language and while this concern is perfectly valid, most hold on to one quintessential Icelandic phrase:
Takk: Thank you
Adding “Takk” to your vocabulary is the simplest way to be polite in Iceland. Someone opens the door for you: Takk! Someone points you to a waterfall: Takk! Someone gives you the last shot of Brennivín: Wow! Takk!Þetta reddast: It will sort itself out
Nothing captures the Icelandic mentality as well as this sentence. It can mean not dwelling too long on the problem at hand or even ignoring it completely cause in the end, things always work out.
The meaning of this word is very situational. It can mean “Let’s go!”, or “I’m feeling cozy” or “This is awkward” or “Stop it this instance!” or “How did it go?” and so much more. Try it out when you have a feeling you want to convey verbally but can’t find the right phrase for.
Gluggaveður: Window weather
Sometimes, especially in spring, the sun will play a trick on us. It shines so beautifully through our windows that we start believing that it’s warm outside when, in reality, the temperatures are freezing. This is what we call “window weather” and it’s perfect for winter photography.
Allt gott: All good
Rather than say “How are you”, Icelanders will only ask for the positive and say “Hvað segirðu gott?” meaning “What do you say good?” Unless you plan on getting real personal, the standard and best answer to this question are simply “Allt gott!”
Sjáumst: See you
“Bless bless” is another acceptable way to bid farewell but honestly, if you are sticking around for a few days, odds are you will run into the same people again. And why say goodbye if you can say see you later?
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More about Icelandic
- Take the Icelandic language course: See the course
- Blog article from Guide to Iceland: View
- Blog articles from Iceland Review: Which languages are closest to Icelandic?