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Askja Icelandic Pronunciation and Meaning

Let’s be honest. The Icelandic language is not one of the easiest or prettiest ones. When you first try to look for the main attractions of Iceland in Google, you realize it is not going to be easy. Difficult, long names with lots of strange signs makes it complicated to read and understand and make you think, where did this come from?

A word cloud ona  blackboard with Icelandinc language and its meaning

There are also names of places which are quite easy to pronounce and do not cause any difficulty to remember. The best example is Askja.

We would like to know everything about the Askja volcano region. Not only how to get there and what to see there, but also what the actual meaning is and at the same time, learn a bit more about the Icelandic language. Grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. Maybe at the end of this article you will finally be able to say Eyjafjallajökull three times in a row!

Iceland language history

Once a forgotten and frozen little island, Iceland is becoming more popular year by year. Hundreds of tourists coming here every year which makes it one of the best travel destinations in Europe. Its unique nature full of hidden waterfalls, geysers and the sparkling Northern Lights attract more and more emigrants and its language is said to be the most interesting in the world. It belongs to a group of Nordic languages. It might happen, especially when it is the first time you hear it, that you will not even be capable of distinguishing separate words. It’s no surprise that it is also called Icelandic Latin or the language of the elves. Nowadays there are only 320,000 people speaking Icelandic (and who knows how many elves. For most of those people it is their mother tongue.

As you probably already know, Iceland was once inhabited by vikings from modern-day Norway. They spoke Old Norse. Since their beginnings on the island, they created some new elements that started to make it different from the Old Norwegian language. The adaption of Christianity in 1000 had a significant impact on the evolution of the Icelandic language. It contributed to the adoption of new church terminology and resulted in the adaptation of the language to the Latin alphabet. In the XIX Icelanders were already aware of how important it was to keep their language pure and to not let it be influenced by foreign languages. Iceland even ran a special policy of language whose intent was to keep Icelandic a pure language and devoid of loan words from other languages. As you can probably imagine, it is quite difficult nowadays. Each language usually borrows from English-speaking countries. Most Icelanders can speak in other Scandinavian languages like Danish and Norwegian.

The Vikings in Iceland started to create the Icelandic language

There are two types of nouns in Icelandic: weak and strong. Strong nouns end with a consonant in the nominative and weak nouns end in a vowel. The declining of the noun is determined by the gender.

Learn Icelandic language

If you ask me if Icelandic language is hard to learn, I would say yes, definitely. So where to start? You should base your studies on listening to the sounds of Icelandic and repeating them. The best way to learn any language is direct contact with the people, in this case with Icelanders. It will of course be much easier for those who already live in Iceland and are totally immersed in it. They have constant contact with the language every day. If you decide to learn Icelandic while living elsewhere, we do recommend listening to some radio channels in Icelandic or watch the movies in Icelandic with subtitles.  

The length of the words makes it difficult at the beginning but with time you will realize that it is all logical.

Usually in Icelandic the long words consist of few small words which basically explain the meaning.

Here’s an example:

Eyjafjallajokull = eyja (island) + fjalla (mountain) + jokull (glacier).

So then what does Askja actually mean? It’s one word which is very easy to say but it does not give many clues to what it could be. The name Askja in Icelandic means „box” or „caldera”. Caldera fits here much better, don’t you think? That is why you hear about this volcano as Askja caldera. It is located in the Dyngjufjoll mountains.

Another rule which you should know when you already start to say your first words in Icelandic. The accent or emphasis always falls on the first sylalble of the word.

Let’s have a look at few basic words to start with:

A cartoon character saying hello in Icelandic language

Góðan daginn! - Good morning!

  • Vertu blessaður! - Goodbye!

  • Takk! - Thank you

  • Fyrirgefðu - I’m sorry!

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

  • Talar þú  ensku? - Do you speak English?

  • Gætirðu skrifað þetta upp? - Please write that down for me

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