The Linguist

The Linguist 59,5 - October/November 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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26 The Linguist Vol/59 No/5 2020 FEATURES Q Why is it important to spread awareness of your language and culture in the UK? A We are very proud of our ancient, archaic mother tongue, and we go to considerable lengths to preserve it. One could argue that we pursue linguistic purism: we try to safeguard our language by replacing loanwords, often from Latin or English, with new words or by resuscitating words from Old Icelandic. For example, the word 'telephone' translates as sími, which means 'thread' or 'wire' in old Norse. The Icelandic Government supports this ideology through the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, the Icelandic Language Technology Fund and Icelandic Language Day (16 November). Citizens can read and understand 12th-century texts such as the Icelandic sagas. Icelanders also publish more books per capita than the people of any other nation in the world. Q Where can I learn Icelandic in the UK? A The University of Edinburgh offers a beginners course for undergraduate and postgraduate students, supported by the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. UCL has a four-year Icelandic BA, which is the only degree programme of its kind outside Iceland. Q What is your favourite Icelandic word? A Ljósmóðir ('midwife'), meaning literally 'mother of light'. It evokes the lightness and happiness that comes with childbirth. Another rather peculiar word, which can mean a lot of things or hardly anything, is Iceland's Ambassador to the UK, HE Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, talks to Romana Sustar about promoting Icelandic culture and language jæja. Often the closest meaning would be 'well… then' or 'well, well, well…' It is a unique word. Q If there was one thing you could take from British culture, what would it be? A I like how the British use the word 'please' to ask nicely and add an extra layer of nice-ness when asking for something or accepting an offer etc. It has a bit of magic dust to it, which you can sprinkle over a reply or a request. HE Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson is the Appointed Chief Negotiator for Iceland's accession to the EU. He has been Ambassador to the UK since 2017. Twitter @stefanhaukurj @IcelandinUK. Council member Romana Sustar MCIL CL is a marketing manager and language tutor. Twitter @RomanaSustar 350,000 people speak Icelandic. Iceland has been chosen multiple times as the best place to live as a woman, and has been number one on the WEF Gender Gap index for 11 consecutive years. Almost all of its electricity consumption is from renewable sources (hydro and geothermal) and about 85% of its houses use geothermal energy. Citizens can use the Íslendingabók website to trace their heritage back to the Vikings. FACT FILE: ICELAND ART SCENE Olafur Eliasson's show at Tate Modern reflected the Icelandic landscape (main image); and (inset) HE Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson Embassy insights

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