Voice Over Sydney: The Faroese Language – The national and official language of the Faroe Islands is Faroese. The language is spoken only by approximately 75,000 – 80,000 people throughout the world. Besides the Inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, an estimated 25,000 people living in Denmark and 5,000 in Iceland speak the Faroese language. The Faroese language is one of the most important aspects of Faroese culture and identity. The Faroese people are conscious of the need to preserve their language by keeping it resilient in the face of global influences. Research and development of the Faroese language is a high political priority of the government.
Voice Over Sydney: The History of the Faroese Language
The first recorded settlers in the Faroe Islands were Irish monks (papar). It is, therefore, possible to assume that one of the first languages spoken in the islands was some form of Old Irish.
Voice Over Sydney: Faroese is a Nordic language, which derives from the language of the Norsemen who settled the Faroe Islands in the viking age. Norse settlers arrived in the middle of the 9th century, bringing their West Norse language, which was spoken in Scandinavia and by the Norse people in the British Isles. A distinct Faroese language evolved from the Norse language, between the 9th and the 15th centuries.
Voice Over Sydney: Close Relatives to Faroese Language
The Faroese language is closely related to Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. Speakers of the Nordic languages will notice familiar words and grammatical structures in the Faroese language. Faroese is similar in grammar to Icelandic and Old Norse, but closer in pronunciation to Norwegian.
However, many of the Norse settlers in the islands were descendants of Norse settlers Irish Sea region. Also, Norsemen often married women from the Irish Sea region before settling in the islands. As a result, the Gaelic language has had some influence on Faroese. There is some debatable evidence of Gaelic language in Faroese: For example, the names of places such as, Mykines, Stóra Dímun, Lítla Dímun and Argir have been hypothesized to contain Celtic roots.
Until the 15th century, Faroese had an orthography similar to Icelandic and Norwegian. But after the Reformation in 1536 the ruling Danes outlawed the use of the Faroese language in schools, churches and official documents. The Faroese people continued to use the language in ballads, folktales, and everyday life. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for almost 300 years the Faroese language was not used in written form.