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Basic Icelandic Phrases with Pronunciation Guide

October 13, 2017
Languages

Iceland has skyrocketed into a popular tourist destination over the last few years. While most Icelanders speak very good English, it is always a good idea to approach the locals in their language. You shouldn't go around the world expecting people to speak English for you. It is more polite and meaningful to learn some basic phrases and it will help you get around in areas other than Reykjavik! 

I decided to abstain from the typical IPA guidelines for pronunciation. I know that many people outside of the language learning/linguistic community don't know what those symbols are and that's okay!

basic icelandic phrases

Basic pronunciation & letters you don't recognize: 

æ: sounds like the English word [eye] or [igh] in "sight"

ll: this is difficult to explain. Put the tip of your tongue at the back of your front teeth. Do a little half smile so your lips part and your cheeks are not resting on the outside of your teeth. Now, basically make a soft "k" noise in the back of your throat. The air should be pushed between your teeth and cheeks.

á: sounds like [ow] as in "ow you kicked me you basta-"

é: [ye] in yes

í: [ee]

ó: [o] in snow

ú: [oo] in boot

ö: short [ur] like in "fur" but short and less emphasis on the r sound

sj: [sh]

þ: [th] in the English word "thought". It is voiceless.

ð: [th] in the English "breathe". It is a voiced [th] sound.

basic icelandic pronunciation

Greetings & Goodbyes: 

Góðan daginn [go-than dye-inn] : Good day (this is a very standard greeting)

Sæll: Hello (said to a man)

Sæl: Hello (said to a woman) 

Vertu blessaður [vertu blessathur]: Goodbye (said to a man)

Vertu blessuð [vertu blessuth]: Goodbye (said to a woman)

Bless bless: Bye!

Sjáumst [sh-yowm-st]: See ya!

basic icelandic pronunciation

Polite Conversation:

Hvað segir þú? [kvath sayer thu?]: How are you? 

Allt fínt [allt- feent]: Everything's fine

Allt gott [allt got]: Everything's good

Hvað heitir þú? [kvath hey-tir thu?]: What is your name? 

Ég heiti ...[Yeh heyti]: I am named....

Hvaðan ertu? [Kvathan ertu]/Hvaðan kemur þú? [kvatahn kemer thu]: Where are you from? 

Ég er frá ...[yeg er frow]: I am from...

Gaman að kynnast þér [gamahn ath kinnast thyer]: Pleased to meet you

Gjörðu svo vel [Gyur-thuh svo vel]: Please

Þakka þér fyrir [thakka thyer firir]: Thank you very much

Takk [tahck]: Thank you

Talar þú íslensku? [talar thu eeslensku]: Do you speak Icelandic? 

Já,pinulitið [yow pinulitth]: Yes, just a tiny bit

Want to learn some more Icelandic? Here's a list of some funny Icelandic colloquialisms
basic icelandic phrases

Confused? 

Ég skil ekki [yeh skil eh-ki]: I don't understand

Ég skil: I understand

Já [yow]: Yes

Nei [nay]: No

Kannski [kahn-ski]: Maybe

Ég veit ekki [yeh vate eh-ki]: I don't know

Gætirðu talað hægar? [Gigh-tir-thu talath highgar]: Can you please speak more slowly? 

Gætirðu sagt þetta aftur? [Gigh-tir-thu sahgt thetta aftur]: Can you please say that again? 

Hvernig segir maður ... á íslensku? [Kvernih seyir mather....ow Eeslensku]: How do you say....in Icelandic?

Hvar er klósettið? [hvar er kloh-settith]: Where is the bathroom?

Hvað kostar þetta?[hvath koster thetta]: How much is this? 

Afsakið!/Fyrirgefðu! [af-sahkith/ firir-gef-thu]: Excuse me

Því miður/Fyrirgefðu [thvi mithur]: I'm sorry 

basic icelandic phrases

Directions & Getting Around: 

Hvar er? [kvar er]: Where is?

...the bus stop?

...strætóstopp? [str-eye-toe-stop]: bus stop

...flugvöllurinn? [blug-vuh-lurin]: the air port

...niður í miðbæ? [nee-thur ee mith-bye]: downtown

...bankinn? [bahnkinn]: the bank

Gætiru sýnt mér á kortinu? [Guy-tiru seent myer ow kortinu]: Can you show me on the map?

 stræti [strigh-ti]: street

fara til vinstri [fara til vin-stri]: turn left

fara til hægri [fara til high-gri]: turn right

beint áfram [bay-nt awfram]: straight ahead

til: towards the

framhjá [fram-hyaw]: past the

á undan [aw un-tan]: before the

leita að [lay-ta ath]: watch for the

gatnamót [gatna-moht]: intersection

basic iceland

Taxi: Taxi

Taka mig til _____, gjörðu svo vel. [0Taka mig til _____, ger-thu svo vel]: Take me to ______ please

Hvað kostar það til _____? [Kvath kostar thath til _____?]: How much does it cost to get to _____? 

Buses

Einn miða, aðra leiðina til _____. [Ayn mitha athra lay-thina til_____]: A single ticket to _____.

Hvað kostar það? (Kvath kos-tar thath]: How much does that cost?

Hvert fer þessi strætó/rúta? [Kvar fer the-si strigh-to/roo-ta]: Where does this bus/coach go?

Hvar er strætónn/rútan til _____? [Kvar er strigh-to/roo-tan til _____]: Where is the bus/coach to _____?

Stoppar þessi strætó hjá _____? [Sto-par the-si strigh-toh hyow _____]: Does this bus stop at _____?

Hvenær fer strætónn/rútan til _____? [Kven-eye-r fer strigh-tohn/roo-tan til _____]: When does the bus/coach leave for _____?

Common signs:

Opið: Open

Lokað: Closed

Inn, Inngangur: Entrance

Út, Útgangur: Exit

Aðgangur bannaður: No entry

Ýta, Ýtið: Push

Toga, Togið: Pull

Baðherbergi, Klósett, WC: Toilett

Menn, Herrar, Karlar, Herramenn: Men

Konur, Dömur: Women

Bannaður, Bannað: Forbidden

basic icelandic phrases

Emergencies: 

Láttu mig í friði! [lowtu mih ee frithi]: Leave me alone!

Hjálp! [hyowlp]: Help!

Eldur!: Fire!

Hættu! [high-tu]: Stop!

Náið í lögregluna! [now-ith ee lugrehluna]: Call the police! 

Ég þarf lækni [yeh tharf lighk-ni]: I need a doctor

| Voyaging Viking | Basic Icelandic Phrases

Want more on Icelandic? 

27 Strange Icelandic Idioms and Phrases

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Siggi Einarson

My name is Siggi-dubbed by my American friends because of the Icelandic yogurt-I am a writer, polyglot, and aspiring expat, not a cup of yogurt (unfortunately).

My love for travelling began with a trip to Iceland and Sweden to visit my family when I was just 15 years old. I spent so long dreaming of the possibilities of life abroad but I always figured these dreams were too far reached. Flash forward almost 10 years, here I am again, both cursing and thanking this damn travel bug.

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