Icelandic: Linguistic Maintenance or Change The Role of English. Occasional Paper.Reportar como inadecuado

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The Icelandic language has a long and stable history, and Old Icelandic is still accessible to modern day Icelanders. This is despite being ruled from Denmark, with influence by the Danish language, for about 500 years. Icelandic may now be under a more serious threat from the onslaught of English. This paper evaluates the linguistic situation in Iceland, assessing whether language maintenance or change is the likely outcome. It shows how social factors such as age, gender, and education have influenced spoken Icelandic and how purist language policies have attempted to stamp out any variations. Iceland's strong social network has resisted change over the centuries, while the other Nordic languages have undergone dramatic changes, particularly in morphology. This resistance has been due in part to pride in their strong literary tradition and high literacy levels. At the same time, Icelandic has assimilated foreign words throughout its history, and it is likely that foreign vocabulary (predominantly English) will continue to be assimilated, and many neologisms will be invented. Information technology is the largest threat to the use of Icelandic. The globalization of English, although having an enormous impact in Iceland is also having the effect of strengthening Icelandic's resistance to change. (Contains 25 references.) (SM)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education, English (Second Language), Foreign Countries, Information Technology, Language Maintenance, Language Role, Language Variation, Second Language Instruction, Sociolinguistics, Uncommonly Taught Languages

Centre for Language in Education, Research & Graduate School of Education, University of Southhampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, England, United Kingdom. Tel: 00-44-0-1703-592433; Fax: 00-44-0-1703-593556; e-mail: rc4[at]; Web site:

Autor: Hilmarsson-Dunn, Amanda


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