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
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
Greek, or more
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.