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Icelandic (íslenska) is a North Germanic language spoken by about 320,000 people. Together with the Faroese, which is spoken on the Faroe Islands (between Scotland and Iceland), it belongs to the Western or Insular Scandinavian languages.

Icelandic is Old Norse

Technically, present-day Icelandic is the Old Norse of over 1,000 years ago. That Old Norse was brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the 9th century and has since – due to its isolated location – barely changed throughout the centuries. Other Scandinavian languages have undergone significant change over the same period, due to the influence of, among others, Lower Saxon. The result is that Icelanders and Norwegians can barely understand each other. But those who speak Icelandic can read the Old Norse myths and sagas without much effort, which is something Norwegians can only do after a thorough study.

Other than Norwegian, Icelandic is most related to Swedish and Danish, but speakers of those two languages also cannot understand Icelandic. Distant relationships with English, German, Gothic, and Dutch have also been demonstrated.

New words from old words

The Icelanders are very aware of their ancient language and will do whatever it takes to – in the age of the Internet – keep it as it is. They put a lot of effort into designing new words that are needed for things like new technologies. They do this by (re)using, modifying, or combining existing Icelandic words. For ‘computer’, they introduced the word ‘tölva’, which is derived from the word ‘tölur’, a word for ‘digits’. For ‘jet plane’, they chose ‘þota’, which stands for ‘rapid flight of a bird’, and when phones were introduced, they chose the word ‘sími’, which means ‘cord’. Unfortunately, we don’t see many phones with cords anymore…

In-country translators

Translation always involves a cultural component; habits and customs are different everywhere. That is why we like using in-country translators, in this case, Icelandic translators who live and work in Iceland. Translators who are close to the source. After all, your Icelandic translation should appeal to the target audience, or it won’t be effective.

Our guarantees, your guarantees

As a translation agency, we are certified according to the highest European quality standards (ISO 9001 and ISO 17100). This means both we and the translators we work with need to meet the strictest competency requirements – the best guarantee for your translation. However, we won’t let you go unless you are 100% satisfied. And… we always give you a lowest price guarantee. You can find out how we can be so inexpensive on the ratespage. If you would rather hear it from someone else, you can find lots of reviews from our clients on this independent website.

You can receive a fully customised free quote for your translation into Icelandic within 30 minutes. All you need to do is request a quote using the button below.

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Translation Agency has the highest certificates for translation agencies: ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015. Top quality and service are always our number one priority.


Translation Agency is a member of the VViN and EUATC; Organisations of translation agencies that work together to optimise quality and service.