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  • The Icelandic language is spoken by 250 thousand people.
  • It is a member of the North Germanic (Scandinavian) branch of the Germanic languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages.
  • It differs little from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings who came to Iceland from Norway in the 9th century AD.
  • While most Western European languages have reduced greatly the extent of inflection, particularly in noun declension, Icelandic retains an inflectional grammar comparable to that of Latin, Ancient Greek, or more closely, Old English.
  • Written Icelandic has changed very little since the Viking era. As a result of this, and of the grammatical similarity between the modern and ancient grammar, modern speakers can still read, more or less, the original sagas and Eddas that were written some eight hundred years ago. This old form of the language is called Old Icelandic, but also commonly equated to Old Norse (an umbrella term for the common Scandinavian language of the Viking era).
  • The preservation of the Icelandic language has been taken seriously by the Icelanders - rather than borrow foreign words for new concepts, new Icelandic words are diligently forged for public use.
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