The Icelandic Language
Icelandic is one of the Nordic languages, a subgroup of the Germanic languages. Linguistically it is most closely related to Faeroe and Norwegian. The origin of the Icelandic language can be traced to the settlement age around A.D. 870-930. Most of the land owning settlers came from Norway, especially Western Norway, but a few travelled from Sweden or came up to Iceland by way of the British isles which was at the time a centre for Viking activity. Among the settlers were a number of slaves from the British Isles, including Ireland. The language, which came to prevail in Iceland, was that of the people of Western Norway. It is commonly agreed that a considerable part of the immigrants was of Celtic stock (estimates, based partly on physical-anthropological studies, vary from 10 to 30 percent). However, the Icelandic language shows only insignificant traces of Celtic influence. The only evidence is a few Celtic loan words and a few personal names and place-names.
Icelandic and Norwegian did not become markedly different until the fourteenth century. From then onwards the two languages became increasingly different. This was for the most part due to changes in the Norwegian language, which had in some cases begun earlier in Danish and Swedish, while Icelandic resisted change, no doubt thanks in part to the rich Icelandic literature of the 12th and following centuries and excellent communication between the four major regions of Iceland. Farmers met at the Alþing, the Icelandic parliament, every summer and resolved differences and set laws.
Icelandic may, at first glance, look very formidable to an outsider. The Icelandic language has strange characters such as "Æ" or "þ" and "ð" in addition to the many accented vowels which can leave a native English speaker at a loss. However, once some of the basic rules have been cleared up, pronunciation is fairly straightforward.