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Icelandic language battles threat of 'digital extinction' (The Guardian)

Mis à jour : 1 Mar 2018

Iceland’s mother tongue and cultural identity is drowning in an online ocean of English
Jon Henley in Reykjavík
@jonhenley
Mon 26 Feb 2018 11.50 GMT
Last modified on Wed 28 Feb 2018 12.50 GMT

Young Icelanders spend a large part of their lives in an almost entirely English digital world. Photograph: Alamy

Unlike most languages, when Icelandic needs a new word it rarely imports one. Instead, enthusiasts coin a new term rooted in the tongue’s ancient Norse past: a neologism that looks, sounds and behaves like Icelandic.
The Icelandic word for computer, for example, is tölva, a marriage of tala, which means number, and völva, prophetess. A web browser is vafri, derived from the verb to wander. Podcast is hlaðvarp, something you “charge” and “throw”.
This makes Icelandic quite special, a language whose complex grammar remains much as it was a millennium ago and whose vocabulary is unadulterated, but which is perfectly comfortable coping with concepts as 21st-century as a touchscreen.
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