Old Icelandic

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Old Icelandic


a language that existed until the mid-14th century. Old Icelandic was a direct continuation of those Norwegian dialects spoken by the emigrants from Norway who settled in Iceland in the ninth and tenth centuries. Old Icelandic belongs to the Western Scandinavian subgroup of the Germanic languages. Originally, there was no difference between Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian, which was also callednorrønt mat, or “northern speech.” Only through the course of time did the two languages become differentiated.

Old Icelandic has been studied better than other Old Germanic languages, since it manifested a rich and distinctive literature (the Icelandic sagas composed between the ninth and mid-11th centuries and written down mainly in the 13th century). The linguistic importance of Old Icelandic, not only for Scandinavian but also Germanic philology, lies in the fact that Old Icelandic (especially its grammatical structure) preserved features inherited from the Germanic parent language (for example, types of noun declension and special verbal governing features). The phonetic structure of Old Icelandic also contains a relatively large number of innovations; thus, the Old Icelandic sound system includes phonemes and diphthongs that originated as a result of positional phonetic changes (vowel mutations and vowel fractures).

The overwhelming majority of the Old Icelandic literary records were written in the 12th and 13th centuries in the Latin alphabet, which was supplemented by several new letters (such as æ, ø, Þ) borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon alphabet. The runic inscriptions found in Iceland are not numerous and belong primarily to a later period of time.


Steblin-Kamenskii, M. I.Drevneislandskii iazyk. Moscow, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Furthermore, a form such as neitt was able in Old Icelandic to appear outside negated clauses, as with the English any series: 11) ...
Old Icelandic sources provided inspiration for the story of the Western Icelanders' emigration to, and many aspects of, their settlement in the New World, but for the story of their inland migration by ship and train from Ontario and Wisconsin to New Iceland there were no native sources that readily lent themselves to adaptation.
39 where Kemp Malone's rendering of the phrase niccra eardung & wearga in Blickling Homily 16 is adopted: 'dwelling-place of water-monsters and wolves'.) Eric Stanley, however, has pointed out recently that Old English wearg (unlike its Old Icelandic cognate vargr) never had a sense 'wolf', but meant merely 'criminal, felon, accursed one' ('Wolf, my Wolf!', in Old English and New.
Johannesson (1909-57) wrote Islendinga Saga (1956) primarily as an outline for studies of Icelandic history at the University of Iceland, where he taught, but hoped it would also be a useful source for others interested in the history of the country from early settlements in 870 to the end of the Old Icelandic Commonwealth in 1262.
However, "genius is one thing, good fortune another." That main theme of the old Icelandic sagas might be applied as well to the story of Jokull as told by his former wife, Johanna Kristjonsdottir, a well-known journalist and a novelist in her own right.
My guess is that the two unidentified references to Cosijn's earlier opinion, are not to published statements, but merely mean, ~I used to think, but do so no more.' The book is very accurately printed, though I noted Kauftmann for Kauffmann (26), and ~dragen' for ~dragon' (35); in the notes the second half-lines of Old Icelandic and Old English verse appear occasionally as a second column with justified left margin, instead of the meandering caesural space; when Holder's edition is quoted, a second, justified column is correct.
Sigurdur Nordal, who was both an Icelandic diplomat and a leading scholar of Old Icelandic, represented the tendency of the so-called Icelandic School to relate discussions of the literary qualities of the sagas to the question of Icelandic independence.
The last chapter is concerned with the future of saga translation, when 'mediaeval studies in general and the study of Old Icelandic literature in particular appear to be under challenge in the universities in which they have been supported' (p.
Although having tried to master the basics of this, and finding the whole endeavour more demanding than memorising Old Icelandic Sagas, I can see why texting has overtaken it.
McLean will today put 31 year old Icelandic international midfielder Siggi Jonsson - who came on as a sub yesterday - through a medical to clinch his pounds 75,000 move from Swedish side Orebro.
Pulis got his cards last summer from the club's old Icelandic owners because he refused to enter the European transfer markets.
A leather wallet containing old Icelandic coins, some apparently bent by the impact of the crash.