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Faroese (føroyskt mál)

Faroese is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in the Faroe Islands (Føroyar) In 2007 there were about 66,000 speakers of Faroese: 45,000 in the Faroe Islands, and 21,000 elsewhere, mainly in Denmark.

Faroese is closely related to Icelandic, and the dialects of western Norway. However, as a result of the isolation, Faroese has a distinctive character of its own.

According to the Færeyinga saga (Saga of the Faroe Islanders), which was written in Iceland, Grímur Kamban, a Norwegian Viking, was the first person to reach the Faroe Islands in 825 AD. His name is thought to be of Celtic origin, possibly from the Old Irish cambán ("crooked one"), and he may have come from the Norse colonies in Ireland [source]. However, Irish monks were in the Faroe Islands from about 625 AD, long before Grímur Kamban. The monks left after Vikings started raiding the islands, and settling in them from 825 AD.

Faroese at a glance

  • Native name: føroyskt [ˈføːɹɪst]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Germanic, North Germanic, West Scandinavian, Insular Scandinavian
  • Number of speakers: c. 66,000
  • Spoken in: Faroe Islands and Denmark
  • First written: 14th century AD
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet
  • Status: official language in Faroe Islands. Recognised minority language in Denmark

The Viking settlers spoke Old Norse, or the Dǫnsk tunga (Danish tongue), and came from Norse colonies in Ireland, Orkney, Shetland, and other parts of the British Isles. Many brought Irish wives with them, and there is thought to be some influence from the Irish language on Faroese. Faroese started to emerge as a distinct language between the 9th and 15th centuries.

Faroese first appeared in writing during the 14th century, mainly in the form of sagas and fables, which remain popular to this day. It was written with a spelling system similar to Icelandic and Norwegian. From 1536 the use of Faroese was prohibited by the Danish authorities in schools, churches and official documents. However, the Faroese people continued to speak the language.

A standard written form for Faroese was devised in 1854 by Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb (1819-1909) and Jón Sigurðsson (1811-1879). It was based on Old Norse and Icelandic, and enabled readers to see the etymology of words clealy. However, the pronunciation of Faroese had changed significantly, and the orthography did not reflect this. A more phonetic spelling system, devised by Jakob Jakobsen (1864-1918), did not prove popular.

Modern Faroese literature began to appear in the early 19th century, One of the first writers was Nólsoyar Páll, who wrote many poems. The first Faroese newspaper, Føringatiðindi, was published in 1890.

Faroese became the official language of education in the Faroe Islands, replacing Danish, in 1937. The following year Faroese started to be used in churches, and it became the national language of the Faroe Islands in 1948. During the 1980s Faroese started to be used in media and advertising. About 5% of the people in the Faroe Islands speak Danish as their mother tongue, and children have to learn it in school.

Faroese alphabet (føroyska stavraðið)

Faroese alphabet (føroyska stavraðið)

Source: http://home.unilang.org/wiki3/index.php/Faroese_alphabet

Faroese pronunciation

Faroese pronunciation

Download an alphabet chart for Faroese (Excel)

Notes

Sources: Unilang & Føroysk-Ensk orðabók Faroese-English dictionary by George Vaughan Chichester Young, Cynthia R. Clewer

Sample text

Øll menniskju eru fødd fræls og jøvn til virðingar og mannarættindi. Tey hava skil og samvitsku og eiga at fara hvørt um annað í bróðuranda.

Hear a recording of this text

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample videos in Faroese

Information about Faroese | Phrases | Numbers | Family words | Tower of Babel

Links

Information about the Faroese language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faroese_language
http://www.mundofree.com/islasferoe/thefaroeselanguage.html

Online Faroese lessons
http://www.ielanguages.com/faroese.html
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Faroese
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF98BADEBF3A862FF
http://www.stidin.fo/FaroeseCourse/default.htm

Faroese pronunciation
http://home.unilang.org/wiki3/index.php/Faroese_pronunciation
http://www.faroeislands.com/Default.asp?sida=655

Online Faroese dictionaries
https://sprotin.fo
http://www.freelang.net/online/faroese.php
http://www.jargot.com/faroese/
http://www.whotww.majstro.com/dictionaries/English-Faeroese/

Online Faroese phrases
http://www.ielanguages.com/faroese.html
http://home.unilang.org/wiki3/index.php/Faroese_basic_phrases
http://www.framtak.com/info/sounds.html

Online Faroese radio

http://www.uf.fo
http://www.kringvarp.fo

Faroe Islands Information (in English and Faroese) - includes information on the Faroese language: http://www.framtak.com/

faroeweb.com - your gateway to the Faroe Islands (in English)
http://www.faroeweb.com

Faroe Islands Tourist Guide (in English, German and Danish)
http://www.faroeislands.com

Germanic languages

Afrikaans, Alsatian, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Danish, Dutch, Elfdalian, English, Faroese, Flemish, German, Gothic, Gottscheerish, Hunsrik, Icelandic, Limburgish, Low German, Luxembourgish, Mòcheno, Norn, North Frisian, Norwegian, Old English, Old Norse, Pennsylvania German, Ripuarian, Saterland Frisian, Scots, Shetland(ic), Stellingwarfs, Swedish, Swiss German, Värmlandic, West Frisian, Wymysorys, Yiddish, Zeelandic

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet


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