In Denmark, most all of the informational signs they wanted to be sure people could read were in Danish, German and English. In Iceland, they're in Icelandic and English, and sometimes they don't even bother with the Icelandic. With only 320,000 native speakers and a grammar I've heard described as "sadistic" I guess they know they need to accomodate.
But it's closest to what the Vikings actually spoke, apparently it hasn't changed much since back in the day. They still have eth ð and thorn þ that have long since dropped out of English. And I love the way it sounds, we listened to a bunch of it on the car radio and I swear it sounds like somebody reading you a bedtime story when you're half asleep. (I wonder if I have cellular-level memories of it.) Even the frenetic radio ads have a soporific quality to them. Maybe that's why everybody here is soooo mellow. The speed limits are super-slow, and they often don't even bother to drive as fast as the limit.
The island reminds me of nothing else as much as Molokai. Super relaxed, almost no stop lights, very similar topography, same kind of vibe.
As much of the language as I've learned in three days:
- Hallo (easy enough)
- Talar þú ensku? (Do you speak English)
- (Followed by a long pause as they try to puzzle out my accent, at which point they invariably say "Yes, of course."
- ...conversation in English...
- Takk fyrir. (Thanks!)
Sigh. It's hard being an American.