HOME
        TheInfoList






Faroese[4] (/ˌfɛərˈz/ or /ˌfærˈz/;[5] Faroese: føroyskt mál, pronounced [ˈføːɹɪst mɔaːl]) is a North Germanic language spoken as a first language by about 72,000 Faroe Islanders, around 49,000 of whom reside on the Faroe Islands and 23,000 in other areas, mainly Denmark.

It is one of five languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic, and the extinct Norn and Greenlandic Norse. Faroese and Icelandic, its closest extant relative, are not mutually intelligible in speech, but the written languages resemble each other quite closely, largely owing to Faroese's etymological orthography.[6]

The Famjin Stone, a Faroese runestone

Around 900, the language spoken in the Faroes was Old Norse, which Norse settlers had brought with them during the time of the settlement of Faroe Islands (landnám) that began in 825. However, many of the settlers were not from Scandinavia, but descendants of Norse settlers in the Irish Sea region. In addition, women from Norse Ireland, Orkney, or Shetland often married native Scandinavian men before settling in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. As a result, the Irish language has had some influence on both Faroese and Icelandic.

There is some debatable evidence of Irish language place names in the Faroes: for example, the names of Mykines, Stóra Dímun, Lítla Dímun and Argir have been hypothesized to contain Celtic roots. Other examples of early-introduced words of Celtic origin are: blak/blaðak (buttermilk), cf. Middle Irish bláthach; drunnur (tail-piece of an animal), cf. Middle Irish dronn; grúkur (head, headhair), cf. Middle Irish gruaig; lámur (hand, paw), cf. Middle Irish lámh; tarvur (bull), cf. Middle Irish tarbh; and ærgi (pasture in the outfield), cf. Middle Irish áirge.[8]

Between the 9th and the 15th centuries, a distinct Faroese language evolved, although it was probably still mutually intelligible with Old West Norse, and remained similar to the Norn language of Orkney and Shetland during Norn's earlier phase.

Faroese ceased to be a written language after the union of Norway with Denmark in 1380, with Danish replacing Faroese as the language of administration and education.[9] The islanders continued to use the language in ballads, folktales, and everyday life. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for 300 years the language was not used in written form.

In 1823, the Danish Bible Society published a diglot of the Gospel of Matthew, with Faroese on the left and Danish on the right.

Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb and the Icelandic grammarian and politician Jón Sigurðsson published a written standard for Modern Faroese in 1854, which still exists.[10] They set a standard for the orthography of the language, based on its Old Norse roots and similar to that of Icelandic. The main purpose of this was for the spelling to represent the diverse dialects of Faroese in equal measure. Additionally, it had the advantages of being etymologically clear and keeping the kinship with the Icelandic written language. The actual pronunciation, however, often differs considerably from the written rendering. The letter ð, for example, has no specific phoneme attached to it.

Jakob Jakobsen devised a rival system of orthography, based on his wish for a phonetic spelling, but this system was never taken up by the speakers.[11]

In 1908, Scripture Gift Mission published the Gospel of John in Faroese.

In 1937, Faroese replaced Danish as the official school language, in 1938, as the church language, and in 1948, as the national language by the Home Rule Act of the Faroe Islands. However, Faroese did not become the common language of media and advertising until the 1980s.[citation needed] Today, Danish is considered a foreign language, although around 5% of residents on the Faroes learn it as a first language, and it is taught in school from the first grade.[12]

In 2017, the tourist board Visit Faroe Islands launched the Faroe Islands Translate, available in 13 languages including English, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, and Portuguese.[13]It is one of five languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic, and the extinct Norn and Greenlandic Norse. Faroese and Icelandic, its closest extant relative, are not mutually intelligible in speech, but the written languages resemble each other quite closely, largely owing to Faroese's etymological orthography.[6]

Around 900, the language spoken in the Faroes was Old Norse, which Norse settlers had brought with them during the time of the settlement of Faroe Islands (landnám) that began in 825. However, many of the settlers were not from Scandinavia, but descendants of Norse settlers in the Irish Sea region. In addition, women from Norse Ireland, Orkney, or Shetland often married native Scandinavian men before settling in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. As a result, the Irish language has had some influence on both Faroese and Icelandic.

There is some debatable evidence of Irish language place names in the Faroes: for example, the names of Mykines, Stóra Dímun, Lítla Dímun and Argir have been hypothesized to contain Celtic roots. Other examples of early-introduced words of Celtic origin are: blak/blaðak (buttermilk), cf. Middle Irish bláthach; drunnur (tail-piece of an animal), cf. Middle Irish dronn; grúkur (head, headhair), cf. Middle Irish gruaig; lámur (hand, paw), cf. Middle Irish lámh; tarvur (bull), cf. Middle Irish tarbh; and ærgi (pasture in the outfield), cf. Middle Irish áirge.[8]

Between the 9th and the 15th centuries, a distinct Faroese language evolved, although it was probably still mutually intelligible with Old West Norse, and remained similar to the Norn language of Orkney and Shetland during Norn's earlier phase.

Faroese ceased to be a written language after the union of Norway with Denmark in 1380, with Danish replacing Faroese as the language of administration and education.[9] The islanders continued to use the language in ballads, folktales, and everyday life. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for 300 years the language was not used in written form.

In 1823, the Danish Bible Society published a diglot of the Gospel of Matthew, with Faroese on the left and Danish on the right.

Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb and the Icelandic grammarian and politician Jón Sigurðsson published a written standard for Modern Faroese in 1854, which still exists.[10] They set a standard for the orthography of the language, based on its Old Norse roots and similar to that of Icelandic. The main purpose of this was for the spelling to represent the diverse dialects of Faroese in equal measure. Additionally, it had the advantages of being etymologically clear and keeping the kinship with the Icelandic written language. The actual pronunciation, however, often differs considerably from the written rendering. The letter ð, for example, has no specific phoneme attached to it.

Jakob Jakobsen devised a rival system of orthography, based on his wish for a phonetic spelling, but this system was never taken up by the speakers.[11]

In 1908, Scripture Gift Mission published the Gospel of John in Faroese.

In 1937, Faroese replaced Danish as the official school language, in 1938, as the church language, and in 1948, as the national language by the Home Rule Act of the Faroe Islands. However, Faroese did not become the common language of media and advertising until the 1980s.[citation needed] Today, Danish is considered a foreign language, although around 5% of residents on the Faroes learn it as a first language, and it is taught in school from the first grade.[12]

In 2017, the tourist board Visit Faroe Islands launched the Faroe Islands Translate, available in 13 languages including English, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, and Portuguese.[13]

Old Faroese

See also

Further reading

To learn Faroese as a language