Faroese & Icelandic

Who here is learning one of them? How’s it going? Long story short, I’m not fluent but I can teach you the grammar, or at times, word-choice.

If you don’t know, Faroese and Icelandic are like heavy dialects of each other (just as Danish and Swedish are of each other). The grammar is about 90% the same between them, it’s just that Faroese is more regular/easier and has removed some of the more difficult or confusing things to make itself more like Scandinavian.

Faroese vocabulary is made up of, from my casual estimate, about 70% Icelandic words, 20% Scandinavian ones and 10% unique Faroese ones. Pronunciation is maybe 30% Icelandic, 30% Swedish (it’s hard to count this aspect as some things are simple changes but still throw you off a lot). Instead of word melody it uses stress, but in loanwords from Scandinavian it puts the stress on the same places as Swedish does (as far as I’ve noticed) instead of changing it to fit Faroese’s native stress patterns (which are the same as Icelandic).


I own a little bit material for both languages, but I did only a few beginners lessons in Icelandic yet, though I’m more interested in Faroese.

Do you think it is a good idea to start with Icelandic, where I probably find more materials and people to talk to and then switch to Faroese? I’m a little bit afraid to mix up the different pronounciations.

(Or should I start with Danish, wich is also on my to do list)

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Icelandic/Faroese teach you why a bunch of otherwise unexplainable things happen in Scandinavian so my personal opinion is to learn one of those first even though they’re harder — though I only recommend this because I can teach the grammar and essentials to you in an easy way. But if you learn Scandinavian first, it acts like the “easy foundation” or the first stepping stone to Icelandic/Faroese. So, if you can stand learning stuff without knowing why it happens, then learn Danish first.

The Icelandic textbooks normally assume that you already know a Scandinavian language so they often skip over basic stuff like word order or when to use this or that, since they think you already know it. Faroese in particular borrows a lot from Danish and they don’t even subtitle Scandinavian on TV.

However, I can teach you the grammar for Icelandic/Faroese while already knowing that you don’t know Scandinavian, or while telling you how it got corrupted to in Swedish (which would probably make you able to recognize the Danish equivalent when you saw it), and the online dictionary for Faroese (of Faroese-English-Faroese) is now possibly better than that of the Icelandic-English one. The other dictionaries for Faroese on there are less good, except for probably the Danish one.

Icelandic is much easier to figure out how to pronounce as it much more closely matches the written language. But, a Faroe Islander can become fluent in Icelandic after only living in Iceland for two months and having no instruction in it, and Icelanders going to the Faroes are told “there are no books for Icelanders to learn Faroese, everyone just goes there and picks it up”.

You can find Faroese people to talk to but yeah, it’s pretty difficult. Overall I’ve heard they’re much more open to actually speaking Faroese with foreigners who are learning, than Icelanders are with speaking Icelandic. It could be that people you meet online have a different personality than the national standard though.

If you have money, then practise materials in Faroese isn’t a problem. There’s also a lot of fiction (folk tales), blogs and recipes you can read online for free, and younger people are on places like Instagram. You can also watch archived Faroese TV online and listen to radio/podcasts for free. In fact, it’s easier to get certain types of resources in Faroese because a certain school-related website has tons of their textbooks available for download, so you can actually ex. read a middle-school science textbook in Faroese for free, which isn’t something you can find with Icelandic. Once you feel like your writing is decent you can probably post on some normal Faroese forums and ask if anyone is willing to chat with you… Or I can ask my friend to see if he/one of his friends is willing.


Hey, I’m really new here and recently started learning Icelandic and really enjoying it so far, but I still am really new to it.

I found a torrent for some Icelandic material, but struggled to follow it and this website is so much easier and pleasant to learn from.

Hopefully I’ll be able to speak with some of you in Icelandic in the future!

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If you need help understanding grammar, just task! Though I won’t promise that I’ll see what you write and respond immediately : P

I’ve never found any good textbook for Icelandic, but you might have a slightly easier time if you buy an Icelandic version of some book that has an English translation (ex. Harry Potter) and practise reading with that.

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I just started the “Comprehensive Faroese Vocabulary” course on memrise.

One of the first lessons contains the faroese word for “name”, which is allegedly “navn n”. I guess the second “n” is just a misspelling, right?

Can you compare Norwegian with Icelandic and Faroese? I couldn`t find good enough audio for learning those languages so decided to learn Norwegian as a base. Whether it was the right choice?)

No, that’s the gender of the noun (not male or female: neuter).

In my own courses I can’t guarentee that the genders are accurate as I get mixed up between languages sometimes and to be honest I didn’t work very hard when making any of my Faroese courses, but hopefully they’re all correct.

Faroese is roughly like this:
— 80% Icelandic grammar, 10% Scandinavian grammar
— 70% Icelandic words, 20% Scandinavian words
— 30% Icelandic pronunciation, 30% (dialectal) Norwegian/Swedish pronunciation.

Actually there’s one Norwegian dialect that sounds super close to Faroese but I don’t know the name of it, it just happened to be in a documentary about (I think) birch bark that I watched.

Icelandic is even more “unique” than Faroese, compared to Scandinavian. Faroese compound words make more sense than both Icelandic and Scandiinavian ones (ex. Icelandic or Swedish might say “teat-animal” for mammal, teat of course being a weird rare word, but Faroese might say “suck-animal”, suck being a extremely common word as it’s slang for “craving”). Basically Icelandic has more unique words in use, and more irregular grammar, than Faroese. Faroese is like taking the difficult words and grammar out of Icelandic, and replacing it with Scandinavian versions.

Scandinavian grammar/vocabulary is like the very basic foundation of Icelandic/Faroese, so it will help you as the word order and idea of how to create compound words is all the same for example, but there’s still a whole lot you’ll have to get used to when you move on afterwards. Normal Icelandic/Faroese grammar explains why there are irregular phrases in Scandinavian (ex. they say “till sjöss”, to the sea’s, “till salu”, for sale, “kyrkogård”, churchyard/cemetary, instead of “till sjö, till sala, kyrkagård” which would be regular). Scandinavians taking Icelandic/Faroese classes are expected to just read easy texts and guess at the meanings of the words, as in they’re really given basically no help in learning and are just supposed to figure all the new stuff by themselves. It’s possible but difficult and definitely not the way they should teach.

As for which Scandinavian language to learn, Norwegian is probably your best choice as it has less loanwords and regularized spelling (Danish and Swedish have more loanwords; Swedish’s spelling is messed up and Danish basically doesn’t say half its letters) but in reality it doesn’t matter which. If you ex. know Swedish you automatically understand Norwegian without a problem, and you understand Danish easily with just a little practise. If your concern is not having enough audio, you need to learn Swedish because it has by far the most media.

If you want audio for Icelandic/Faroese you have to buy audiobooks, listen to the radio/podcasts or watch TV. You can do radio/TV online for free, audiobooks are expensive. Your best bet for real learning is buying audiobooks with matching text, of a book you can get a translation of.

Thanks a lot for such informative answer. It was really interesting)))

So do you just get a book and listen to the audio and hope for the best? What other resources can you use?

For me, yeah, that’s all I have to do personally since I studied enough Icelandic / Swedish. Whenever I get around to writing an actual textbook you guys will have a lot easier time…