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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
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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