One of Mango Languages' grove trotters, Amanda, is learning Icelandic. Hear from her directly!
I know, it probably sounds unreasonable or unnecessary, but I have a legitimate reason for doing so. And no, my rationale is not to impress friends when I say Icelandic’s longest word, Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúraútidyralyklakippuhringur (translation: “key ring of the key chain of the outer door to the storage tool shed of the road workers on the Vaðlaheiði plateau;” pronunciation here).
With only approximately 300,000 speakers, most of which reside on a small island nation in the northern Atlantic ocean, it seems nonsensical for this Michigan gal to want to learn Icelandic. But I’m going to try and I’m going to take you along with me on my language learning journey.
Why am I learning Icelandic? Simply put: because I’m going to Iceland!
Many Icelanders speak English. I’ll definitely survive using my native tongue, but there are deeper reasons why learning the language before traveling is important.
1. What’s in a name?
Go tell your guide Guðmundur that you want to visit Eyjafjallajökull and that he should bring a bottle of brennivín and a loaf of rúgbrauð. Languages are hard-coded into names of people, places, food, and more. Encountering the language cannot be avoided. I’d rather embrace the ability to at least try to pronounce these words than struggle to decipher maps, road signs, and menus.
2. Cultural respect.
Attempting to speak the local language gives major gold stars to visitors. I never want to reek of the impression that I expect the world to cater to my English tendencies. By showing my interest in the language, I’m opening myself to more opportunities to connect with locals through the unique bond of language. Engaging in simple conversation could develop into more - perhaps a tour from a local or a new friendship.
3. Enriched experience.
Be less of a visitor and more of an experiencer. Culture is woven into language. Mastering the basics can break down language and cultural barriers. This makes the traveler a step ahead in understanding and immersing in the trip. By having some confidence in the language, one can venture beyond the tourist sites and gain a more authentic adventure.
4. Brain building.
The brain does amazing things when it is exercised through language learning. Linguistic connections can be discovered. Your ears develop a sensitivity to detect nuances in sound. As your skills grow, so does your confidence. There are so many more ways language learning can help you grow and excel in other areas of your life.
5. In case of emergency.
Of course, language skills are imperative should any safety or emergency situations occur. The ability to communicate for help could save your life.
Throughout my language learning experience, I’ll share the resources I use, my struggles & successes, how I incorporate learning in my busy life schedule, and much more. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to follow along on this language learning experience.
See you later! Ég sé þig seinna!