talk your way through iceland

- get your icelandic phrases on before your trip -

– get your icelandic phrases on before your trip –

so you’re packed, checked-in and ready to kick some butt in iceland but you’re not sure if you’re going to get anywhere once you’ve landed. one, because you’re not sure if icelandic people speak english and two, you weren’t able to find that english to icelandic phrase book in time for your trip.


all’s not lost.

most icelandic people speak great english but of course, you will come across a few folk who will give you furrowed eyebrows and even confused stares on your journey. i had a similar experience myself when a lady at a souvenir shop was unable to give me directions to a store in reykjavik in english. luckily, her colleague was more fluent in the language and was able to help me out eventually. phew!

so don’t panic. when one door closes, another will open.

below are just some simple words you could pick up to ease you through a difficult situation if ever you find yourself in one.  but mind you, these are only the basics. learning them doesn’t mean randomly rattling icelandic phrases to every local you meet. that would just come off looking retarded.

icelandic is a difficult language and even though you can may be able to speak a few words effortlessly, stringing sentences and engaging in serious dialogue is another level altogether. so unless you were born and bred in iceland, don’t expect to be an expert on icelandic. just ease into it naturally with the basics and you’ll find yourself greeted by many an appreciative smile or laugh.

so what are you waiting for? let’s try pronouncing some of these simple terms, shall we? 🙂

no       nei
maybe    kannski
good morning    góðan dag
good evening    gott kvöld
goodbye       bless!
thank you     takk fyrir!
hello   halló!
mountain  fjall
glacier    jökull
waterfall    foss
volcano    eldfjall or eldstöð
landscape   landslag
food matur
drinks  drykkur
beer bjór
what is your name?   hvað heitir þú?
i’m on a holiday/vacation. eg er i frii
i am sorry. fyrirgefðu

4 responses to “talk your way through iceland

    • dear christine – thanks for your question. you are indeed correct. the icelandic language (an indo-european language) originated from the nordic languages which have their roots in the old norse languages. norse, in turn had its origins in north germanic languages used back in the day hence why some of the pronunciations are similar to german. the ‘FJ’ is indeed silent and pronounced as a ‘Y’. for example the word ‘fjord’ is spoken as ‘fee-yord’ and the icelandic world for glacier which is ‘jokull’ is pronounced as ‘yo-kull’. hope that answered your question. 🙂

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