The official language is Icelandic, a highly inflected Germanic tongue brought to the country by the early Viking settlers. Since it has only changed slightly over the centuries, modern Icelanders can read the ancient manuscripts of the sagas without difficulty. An official committee tries to keep the language pure by inventing new words for modern usage. Nouns may either be masculine, feminine, or neutral. English is widely spoken and understood; many Icelanders also speak Danish, other Scandinavian languages, or German.
The Icelandic alphabet contains two unique letters—þ, called "thorn" and pronounced like the th in thin, and ð, called "eth" and pronounced like the th in leather. The Scandinavian ligature, æ, is pronounced, as it is called in everyday Icelandic, as a long "i" as in "bike." Otherwise, the "j" is pronounced as "y" and whenever you see a vowel accented, it becomes long. All words have emphasis on the first syllable.
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