Languages

Icelandic

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Introduction

Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the official language of Iceland and the mother tongue of the Icelandic people. Its closest relatives are Faroese and West Norwegian dialects such as Sognamål.

While most West European languages have reduced greatly the extent of inflection, particularly in noun declension, Icelandic retains an inflectional grammar comparable to that of Latin or, more closely, Old Norse and Old English.

Classification of Icelandic verbs

Icelandic verbs are divided in weak and strong verbs. In addition to these two main groups, there are reduplicating verbs and irregular verbs.

A. Weak verbs

The past tense of weak verbs is formed by adding a dental suffix (t, d, ) between the stem and personal ending. There are four groups of weak verbs:

  1. Verbs ending in -ja: spyrja.
  2. Stemvowel front (e, i, y, , , ei, ey, ): beina, heyra, klippa.
  3. Stemvowel back (a, , o, , , also , u, i): ora, loða.
  4. Past tense -ai in 1st person singular: kalla.

B. Strong verbs

The past tense of strong verbs is formed with a change in the stem vowel. There are seven (where the 7th is the reduplicating verbs) groups of strong verbs:

  1. Vowel change ( í> ei): bíta.
  2. Vowel change (jó, jú, > au): sjóða, smjúga, lúta.
  3. Vowel change (e, in > a): hvella, spinna.
  4. Vowel change (e > a): nema.
  5. Vowel change (e, i > a): gefa, biðja.
  6. Vowel change (e > ó): fara.

C. Reduplicating verbs

The past of these verbs was originally formed by reduplication of the first syllable. (Cf. Gothic haitan)

  1. Vowel change (ei > ; au > j ; a > ; > ): heita, auka, falla, láta.
  2. Vowel change ( , > er): gróa, snúa.

D. Irregular verbs

mega, eiga, kunna, muna, vita, vilja, urfa, munu, skulu, vera.

References

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