I’m an American-Canadian with a fair bit of Icelandic heritage. I never learned Icelandic (or any other foreign languages) as a child, though I’ve learned fluent French, a decent amount of German, and tourist Spanish as an adult. At the age of thirty, I found myself unemployed. To fill time between filling out job applications in the harsh Quebec winter, I decided to start learning Icelandic, the language once spoken by my grandfather and many of my ancestors.
I knew Icelandic was a difficult language to learn, not least because of its relatively small number of native speakers (around 331,000) and the widespread knowledge of English in current-day Iceland. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the sounds of Icelandic, with its matter-of-fact compound words, with the satisfaction of figuring out the puzzle that each sentence presents. It’s wonderful to be able to express myself in the language that’s been spoken by my family members all over the world: from Kópavogur, Iceland; to Baldur, Manitoba; to the New York City suburbs (and that’s just in the last century).
Emigrants’ Daughter is a little corner of the internet where I hope to detail my experiences learning the Icelandic language, discovering Icelandic culture, and visiting Iceland. Thanks for coming on this journey with me!