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Greeting Norms

If you decide to travel to Iceland, then it will be a good idea to learn some basic greetings and expressions to get around.

For example:

  • Welcome - Velkomin[female], Velkominn[male]

  • Hello - Halló Good morning - Góðan daginn

  • Yes - Já

  • No - Nei

  • Thank you very much - Takk fyrir

  • Excuse me - Afsakið mig

  • My name is - Ég heiti

  • I don’t speak Icelandic - Ég tala ekki íslensku

  • Do you speak English? - Talar þú ensku?

  • Hvar er...Where is..?

Communication styles

Although the Icelandic language sounds nothing like English, you will be happy to know that it does use a Latin script for its writing system. This means that it uses an alphabetical system similar to that of the English language, however, employs some additional vowels and accented letters. With this addition, it may be a bit challenging for English speakers to learn the language.

With their writing system, letters like C, Q, W, and Z are hardly used in the language and it’s uncommon to use loanwords as with other languages. Icelandic is viewed as a phonetic language with complex vocabulary and grammar.

Icelanders are known to be very direct and straightforward when speaking to others. For some, this might come off as being rude, however, it’s not the case at all. So it’s good to remember not to take offense with the Icelanders' way of speaking.

They never over-promise nor deliver unreasonable expectations. Honesty and punctuality are extremely important qualities among Icelanders. Conversations are very engaging and informal.

Personal space and touching

When it comes to Icelandic culture, the people may appear to be quite shy or reserved being that they don’t want to come off as intrusive. However, just like with anyone else they warm up and are very friendly with others. Once women are acquainted, they normally kiss on the cheeks when greeting each other.

There are not many taboos in the culture and they behave in a very familiar way towards each other. One thing that you may experience while traveling on business to Iceland that is very uncommon in the US is that people will invite you to their homes to stay. Many will offer to give you tours of the country and will expect that you give them some honest feedback about their country.

Eye contact and gestures

In conversations, Icelanders are not so emotional and tend to be neutral. Firm handshakes are expected always and especially before and after greeting business partners. When greeting others everyone is on a first-name basis and eye contact should always be made with leaving anyone out of the conversation.

Icelandic Culture Reference Guide

Icelandic Population in the United States

Icelandic Interpretation and Translation Services

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Volatia is a leading provider of professional Icelandic interpretation and translation services. Whether you are in the United States or anywhere else in the World, Volatia is uniquely capable of bridging all of your Icelandic language and cultural barriers. The secret sauce is our proprietary technology, coupled with our vast network of qualified professional interpreters and translators.

Click here to watch a one minute video of a recent innovation we pioneered.

Among the many reasons to choose Volatia for your language access program, below are a few to consider:

   1. We support more than 280 languages ondemand. Simply download our mobile app or login our online portal to request or schedule your language needs or connect to an interpreter within seconds.

   2. We’re local. Volatia employs Icelandic interpreters and translators in all 50 U.S. States, with a major interpreter contact center network in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Virginia.

   3. We’re always available. We offer 24/7 ondemand support for Icelandic  interpretation and translation needs. In addition to our Icelandic phone and video interpreter services, you can also access onsite or in-person Icelandic interpreters.

   4. We have a broad range of experience. We provide qualified Icelandic Interpreters and translators in healthcare, government, legal, and a host of other industries.

Icelandic Language Solutions

If you have ever wanted to learn a rare language that has a rich history, then Icelandic may be it!

The Icelandic language is the official language of the Republic of Iceland. Surprisingly there are no dialects at all in the Icelandic language. This might throw you for a loop especially if you have had to learn a language in the past and noticed some among speakers.

Why is the case?

The reason that there are no dialects is due mainly to its isolation. However, there are other languages that are spoken in Iceland due to migrants who have moved there.

For example, Galic was the native language to many of the early Icelanders. Although the Icelandic or Norse languages prevail, northern trade routes brought Basque, French, Dutch, and German.

If you are a polyglot and decide that you would like to learn the Icelandic language, knowing languages like German, Norweigan, Scandanavian, or Faroese will expedite your learning curve. This is because they are very closely related to the Icelandic language.

Icelandic Dialects

Although the Icelandic language is native to Iceland with some 360,000 speakers, 15% of them are first & second-generation immigrants.

It’s very interesting to know that although the Icelandic language is not the most popular language to learn, it is very rich in culture and history. This is one of the reasons why the language itself has not changed.

Outside of Iceland, the language is also spoken in the US, Canada, and in Denmark.

Countries Where Icelandic is the Official Language

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  • Iceland

According to the US census in 2019, there was an estimated population of 49,422 Icelanders in the US. It’s interesting that many Icelandic immigrants began to arrive in the US during 1873-1905 and after World War II.

The United States is the second-largest Icelandic diaspora community in the world after Canada. As for Canada, there was an estimated population of 101,795 Icelandic by ancestry.

If you would like to learn more about the Icelandic language and people in the US, the best places to go are the Western, Midwest, and Pacific Northwestern states.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 42,716 Americans that claimed partial or full Icelandic ancestry, of which 6,760 were born outside of the United States.

firm handshake