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Icelandic Online Dictionary and Readings

Carry On Icelandic: Culture [selections] (2004)

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Saga slenskunnar - The History of the Icelandic Language

Saga slenskunnar

egar sland byggist ( 9. ld) var s hluti Norurlanda sem nefnist Skandinava eitt mlsvi. Tunguml eirra ja sem ar byggu voru oft nefnd dnsk tunga einu nafni. au greindust smm saman mllskur og munurinn eim jkst. N er tala um norrn ml, sem eru norska, slenska, freyska, danska og snska, og au tilheyra eirri grein indevrpskra mla sem kallast germnsk ml.

Color photograph

Sngelskir krakkar 17. jn (Kids singing at the Independence Day 17th of June).

Fyrstu aldirnar landinu er tplega hgt a tala um slensku sem srstakt ml, ar sem mjg ltill munur var henni og v mli sem norrnir menn tluu Noregi og rum byggum norrnna manna. Elstu slenskar ritheimildir, fr 12. ld, gefa til kynna a mjg ltill munur hafi veri slensku og norsku. S munur tti eftir a aukast 13. og 14. ld, einkum vegna einfldunar beygingakerfi norsku.

En breytingar hafa lka tt sr sta slensku. Hljkerfi hefur teki tluverum breytingum og beygingakerfi nokkrum minni httar breytingum, svo a hi fornnorrna beygingakerfi hafi varveist slensku llum meginatrium. En a er orafori slenskunnar sem mestum breytingum hefur teki. r breytingar hafa einkum ori vegna breyttra atvinnuhtta essari ld en erlend hrif hafa einnig valdi ar nokkru um.

Ortk

Flest ortk eiga uppruna sinn gmlum atvinnuhttum, sium, leikjum og venjum. au geta veri ungu flki, sem ekki ekkir til astna gamla bndasamflaginu, framandi en neitanlega auka au blbrigi mlsins. Mrg eirra brega upp skemmtilegum myndum af athfnum flks ur fyrr.

A sigla milli skers og bru: Reyna a koma sr vel vi ba deiluaila, fara gtilega samskiptum vi flk. ortakinu merkir bra brotsjr. Menn urftu a varast a steyta ekki skeri og forast brotsji. ess vegna fara menn gtilega er eir sigla milli skers og bru.
Dsa sigldi milli skers og bru egar hn tk ekki afstu deilumli vinstlkna sinna.

A leia saman hesta sna: Kappra, deila ea berjast. Hestaat var vinsl rtt til forna. ttu menn saman grahestum snum sr og horfendum til skemmtunar. etta var jafnan harur bardagi.
Nemendur leiddu saman hesta sna mlfundi um nttruvernd.

A tefla tvsnu: Taka httu. Menn tefla tvsnu egar eir leika vafasmum leik skk, en geta unni ef andstingurinn uggir ekki a sr.
Menn tefla tvsnu er eir fara illa bnir fjll slmu veri.

The History of the Icelandic Language

At the time Iceland was settled (in the ninth-century), that part of the north which is called Scandinavia formed one language area. The language of those who lived there was often given the one name, the Danish tongue. It gradually branched out dialectically and differences grew. Now one may speak of the Nordic languages, that is, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faeroese, Danish, and Swedish, which all belong to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language tree.

It is hardly possible to speak of Icelandic as a separate language existing during the first centuries of settlement as there was very little difference between Icelandic and the languages spoken by the Scandinavians of Norway or the other Norse settlements. The oldest Icelandic written sources (from the twelfth-century) suggest that very little difference then existed between Icelandic and Norwegian. The changes began to increase in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-centuries, especially because of the simplification of the Norwegian system of verb conjugation and noun declension.

But changes have also occurred in Icelandic. The phonological system has undergone significant changes as has, to a lesser degree, the system of inflection; although the Old Norse system has been preserved in Icelandic in all its major aspects. It is in the Icelandic vocabulary that most of the changes have taken place. These changes have occurred, in particular, because of changing work patterns during the last century, although foreign influence has also been something of a factor.

Most expressions and figures of speech have their origins in old work patterns, customs, games and sports, and habits. They may seem strange to young people who have no knowledge of the conditions of the old rural society, but they certainly embellish the nuances of the language. Many of them raise amusing images of what people once did.

Phrases

"A sigla milli skers og bru", or to sail between the skerry and the wave, means that one tries to carry oneself well with both of the opposing sides, or proceed carefully in one's relations with people. In the expression, "bra" means "brotsjr" (that is, a breaker). People had to be careful not to collide against the skerry and to keep clear of breakers. For this reason, people are said to go carefully if they sail between skerry and wave (breaker). For example, "Dsa sigldi milli skers og bru egar hn tk ekki afstu deilumli vinstlkna sinna": Dsa sailed between skerry and wave when she did not take sides in her girlfriends' disagreement.

"A leia saman hesta sna," or to lead their horses together, means to debate, quarrel, or fight. Horse fighting was a popular sport in early times: men would bring together their stallions to fight and watch the spectacle for amusement. The phrase normally refers to a strong disagreement. "Nemendur leiddu saman hesta sna mlfundi um nttruvernd": the students lead their horses together in a public discussion of environmental protection.

"A tefla tvsnu," or literally to play in risk, means to take a risk or put something in danger. People are said to play in risk when they play an uncertain or risky move in chess, but can be used if one's opponent is not on their guard. "Menn tefla tvsnu er eir fara illa bnir fjll slmu veri": People play in risk when they go ill-prepared into the mountains in poor weather.

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