“Useful Icelandic phrases” might be an incorrect title, as most people in Iceland speak perfect English, and asking for directions or ordering in a restaurant is very easy. Nonetheless, learning about the language of a country adds to the cultural experience. Icelandic is a North Germanic language and its grammar is remarkably similar to that of German. Nouns are either feminine, masculine or neutral, and can be in one of four cases: The nominative, (the subject case) the genitive, (the possessive case) the dative (the indirect object case) and the accusative (direct object case). The world order is very similar as well, following the rule of Subject-Verb-Object. A major difference between Icelandic and English and German is the use of articles. There is no indefinite article (a/an). “a man” is the same as “man” (maður). Definite articles do exist but are added to the noun as suffixes. The masculine definite article is (i)nn. So “the man” would be “maðurinn”. The feminine definite aticle is (i)n, and the neutral definite article is “(i)ð”. “a house” or “house” is “hús”. “the house” is “húsið”, as is it a neutral noun. If using a definite article before an adjective, the definite article is used by adding the gender-appropriate ending to the letter “h” (“hinn”, “hin, or “hið”)
The Icelandic alphabet consists of 32 letters, of which the letters C, Q and W are only used for foreign words, but are not found in Icelandic vocabulary itself. It only has one umlaut letter, namely the “ö”, pronounced the same way as the German “ö” (try to say “urgent” and focus on the sound of the “ur” in the beginning). There are six circumflex-ed letters, Á á (pronounced “ou” like “house”), É é (pronounced “e” like “yet”), Ó ó (pronounced “oh” like “sole”), Ú ú (pronounced like “oo” like “school”), and Ý ý (pronounced like “i” in “fish”). There is also the letter combination “Æ æ”, which is pronounced like “i” in “icy”. Icelandic also has the English “th” sound, and in both languages, there are two variations: the “th” sound in “that” or “this” is similar to the Icelandic letter “Ð ð”. The letter “Þ þ” sounds more like the “th” in “thing” or “thunder”. Below are some useful phrases in Icelandic for our language enthusiasts:
1. Hello/Good Day. Góðan daginn.
2. My name is Robin. Ég heiti Robin.
3. Nice to meet you! Gaman að kynnast þér.
4. Where are you from? Hvaðan ertu?
5. What’s up/What’s new? Hvað er að frétta?
6. What is your name? Hvað heitir þú?
7. Thank you! Þakka þér fyrir!
8. No problem! Það var ekkert!
9. Congratulations! Til hamingju!
10. Good Luck! Gangi þér vel!
11. Could you repeat this? Gætirðu endurtekið þetta?
12. I don’t know. Ég veit ekki.
13. I am sorry. Mér þykir það leitt.
14. Excuse me! Fyrirgefðu.
14. Where is the bathroom? Hvar er klósettið?
15. What does this cost? Hvað kostar þetta?
16. Do you speak English? Talar þú ensku?
17. I don’t understand. Ég skil ekki.
18. Goodbye – Vertu blessaður (m) / Vertu blessuð (f)
19. Have a nice day! Eigðu góðan dag!
20. Yes. / No. Já/Nei