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National language of Iceland, one of the Germanic languages. It developed from the Norse speech brought to Iceland by settlers from western Norway in the 9th–10th centuries. Old Icelandic (seeOld Norse) is the language of the sagas and other medieval poems. In grammar, vocabulary, and spelling, modern Icelandic is the most conservative of the Scandinavian languages; modern Icelanders can still read Old Norse sagas. Icelandic once borrowed words from Danish, Latin, and the Celtic and Romance languages, but a purist movement that began in the early 19th century has replaced most of these loanwords with words formed only from Icelandic elements.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Icelandic language, visit Britannica.com.
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