Iceland with Parents, Preparation

Icelandic With Blaer 1: Pronunciation

If you’re planning to go to Iceland, it might be useful to learn a bit of Icelandic first! A lot of Icelanders speak English, but you’ll be able to go to more places and learn more things with at least basic knowledge of Icelandic. I don’t know much Icelandic yet, so I’m going to be learning as I post!

I have found Memrise, an online flashcard and memorization tool, to be useful for language learning (my favorite is Duolingo, which doesn’t yet offer Icelandic). I have made an account here and will hopefully be posting Icelandic flashcards as I go.

Here‘s the link to the course for this post, in case you don’t want to read the whole thing. And here are some resources if you want more information:

Even though Icelandic does technically use the Roman alphabet, there are many pronunciation differences- enough that you might have a lot of trouble making yourself understood without learning the rules. I don’t understand the rules well enough yet to make a detailed explanation of all of them, but here’s some things which stood out to me:

First, Iceland has accents on some of its vowels, like á, ý, or é. The accents just change the sound of the vowel slightly. If you’ve never learned a foreign language before, it might be a little intimidating, but it’s actually a lot simpler than English, where you just have to remember or guess what sound each vowel makes.

If you look at Icelandic text, you might see some letters which look even stranger, like þ or ð. These letters actually used to exist in Old and Middle English, but have been replaced by “th” today. Even though modern English only has one letter combination to represent both sounds, they’re different. ð (or in uppercase, Ð) makes the sound “th” in “the.” þ (or in uppercase, Þ) makes the sound “th” in “thing.” Try saying them out loud. Do you hear a difference? (If you are into linguistics or know IPA, ð is voiced and þ is unvoiced.)

This isn’t in the flashcards, but a double l in Icelandic is very different from in English. A single l sounds like you’d expect it to, but a double l (ll) sounds more like an English t.

This post has a more detailed explanation of a lot of these things: check it out!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Icelandic!


Icelandic With Blaer 1: Pronunciation was last modified: September 6th, 2017 by Blaer