Faroese (pronounces as /ˌfɛəroʊˈiːz/ or /ˌfæroʊˈiːz/) is the mother tongue for over 70 thousand people, mostly concentrated on the Faroe Islands and Denmark. Just as Icelandic (see our entry), it is a Germanic language derived from Old Norse.

A bit of history

  • Old Norse was still the language on the Islands at the beginning of the 10th century. However, the influx of Irish, Orkney and Shetland settlers in the coming years began to affect the language. Even contemporary Faroese has a significant number of words that have a clear Celtic origin.
  • At the end of 14th century, it stopped being a written language as a result of a union with Denmark. For almost 300 years, Faroese was used only in its spoken forms in arts and daily interactions.
  • The first decades of 19th century brought a change as first publications with Faroese started to appear. The first one was the Gospel of St. Matthew. In 1854, a standard for the Faroese language was published and it is held in high regard to this day. Faroese returned to schools as an official language in the year 1937 and 11 years later as a national language.

Linguistic view

  • The grammatical system of Faroese resembles that of Icelandic and Old Norse. It is an inflectional language with three grammatical genders and four cases.
  • The pronunciation is much closer to Norwegian than Icelandic, despite a closer grammatical resemblance.
  • The Language Committee of the Faroe Islands (Føroyska málnevndin) was established in 1985 to advise language users and regulate any linguistic matters regarding Faroese.
  • If you are interested in learning the language, there is even a special university that handles such matters – Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, also known as the Faroese University.

Although it is not a very popular language, it is surely beautiful and interesting. Should you need language support regarding Faroese, do not hesitate to contact us!

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