Do you want to learn Icelandic? Are you just starting to learn Icelandic and are looking for a simple way to help you? Check out the Save ÍSLENSKA project!
Save ÍSLENSKA is a project founded by Nuchjarin Punnapoptaworn and Filippus Ström Hannesson and is currently being funded through Indiegogo - where you can purchase your own flashcards and support the project.
I had a little interview with Nuchjarin to learn more about the project.
Nuchjarin is from Thailand and married to Filippus who is Icelandic. The pair has been living together in Iceland since 2010, where Nuchjarin studied Icelandic diploma at the University of Iceland. At first they were living in Reykjavík, but are now located on the south coast of Iceland, helping Filippus parents with a farm nearby Kirkjubæjarklaustur, where they are raising their young, bilingual child.
In 2015 they lived in Thailand, where Filippus was using flashcards to learn the Thai alphabet. That's where the idea came to make similar alphabet flashcards in Icelandic, and that they are now in the process of making a reality.
With these cards, they wanted to create a fun and easy way for foreigners to learn the Icelandic alphabet as the first step towards learning the language, no matter their age.
In addition to making the flashcard then Nuchjarin also hopes to build an online community called Save ÍSLENSKA. This will be a place where people learning Icelandic can come together and help each other out. Nuchjarin is also creating blogs to help them learn the basics without needing to know too much grammar. As this community grows she hopes to create more material and more flashcards or even games that can help people out.
These flashcards are intended for English speaking people, but the pair are also very interested in making cards for example in Polish, Thai, Filipino and some of the languages of the refugees that are coming to Iceland.
The cards are aimed at English speaking people and the pronunciation guide is in English.
For example, the second letter of the alphabet is Á, and the example word is ÁS. There is also a guide how to pronounce it: House < the ous, in House is how you would pronounce Ás in Icelandic.
There is a card with instructions on how this works that follow the deck of cards in case people are not sure.
Nuchjarin is starting this project in an old-fashioned way with physical materials, such as books and flashcards with visual support, but creating an app is a dream she would love to make come true. If people are interested and they have enough financial support, then perhaps an app will become a reality in the future.
The pair talk about saving Icelandic from extinction, and there is already some concern with linguists in the country that because Icelandic is not keeping up with technology, eventually it will become extinct.
I personally disagree with this, as Icelandic words are being made for every new invention, and it's possible to have your computer settings entirely in Icelandic these days. When talking to Nuchjarin about her project, she asked me if I am around children much and how often I hear them speak English, use English terms or slangs and pointed out their computers, video games and TV are in English, with Icelandic subtitles.
However, when I was growing up all the TV shows and films were in English with Icelandic subtitles, but these days a lot of them are dubbed (I always prefer the original language), so I actually think there is a lot more material in Icelandic these days than in the 1980's and 1990's. And yes, I may have used slang as a kid, and still do, but my Icelandic is excellent. And as a bonus, so is my English.
Icelanders are always concerned about their language, and the same issue propped up in the mid 19th century, when it was fashionable to speak Danish or use slang in Danish. But the Icelandic language has persevered, and Icelanders are far from changing Icelandic over to some other language! Even the Icelandic rap scene these days is rapping in Icelandic, and that's considered really hip and cool, that was considered impossible when the rap scene was starting in the 90's.
So it's perhaps a very pessimistic viewpoint that the Icelandic language will die out, but I'm an optimist at heart. To make sure it doesn't though, why not start learning it? It's never a wasted time to learn another language, no matter how few people speak it.
For those people who are not interested in the flashcards, but still want to support the project and get something with a connection to Iceland, they can check out the Mii (MYSIRFOX iCELAND iNSPIRATION) product line. 25% of the profit will go into creating more Icelandic learning material.
"We are creating this with our own savings and hoping to get enough on Indiegogo for printing flashcards. If we are successful we want to create more material and some games that would teach Icelandic. We already have ideas but as we are only two we can only do so much on a limited time and budget"
And they are also helping out the rest of the community, by giving out a deck of flashcards to local schools.
"These flashcards are for any age group although very young children, of course, need parents guidance just like when they learn their own alphabets. We already have 5 schools that teach Icelandic for foreigners signing up to get a free copy from us, for every 25 decks that sell on Indiegogo, one deck is donated free to a school. We hope more schools will join us. We believe giving the flashcards for free to the schools is important so that people who study Icelandic can have access to more than just textbook."
This is such a great initiative from such a sweet couple, and I urge anyone interested in picking up the basics of Icelandic to support it. And actually, this is super helpful for anyone travelling to Iceland, it would be extremely helpful to know how to pronounce words like Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Fjaðrárgljúfur or Eyjafjallajökull - or simply be able to tell someone the name of the street you're staying at if you're looking for directions!