Talarðu íslensku? Ég er að læra íslensku.
Simply put, this is by far the best book for learning Icelandic for the English speaker.
This book is a real pleasure and easy to use. It does not start out with hammering you with noun declensions, but gives you dialogs. The thing I really love is the dialogs are ones you might actually hear and include interjections you may run into. It's not the stilted business or travel dialog ("How much is a room for the evening?"), but dialog within a family ("Guðni, don't be like that. Sweetheart, talk to your son..."). The dialogs are actually very funny and enjoyable, including the boorish co-worker and how to blow off someone trying to pick you up!
The book comes with a CD of all the dialogs in the book, and the dialog on the CD seems to be "regular speed", it's what you might expect to hear in Iceland. The book does not leave the grammar out, just introduces it in small doses as you go along. It does, however, leave out the whole "polite form" of you. I know this is big in German and other books on icelandic include this, maybe this is falling by the way in Iceland or maybe it was left out for simplicity, I don't know. Folks, this is the book to get. You won't find it in any of the big internet bookstores, it's published in iceland. You could try and get it from Mál og menning or it might be easier to get it from Randburg, where I got it. If you're learning Icelandic, get as many books as you can, but definitely get this one, it's the best!
Several people have asked me where to get this, I hate to link directly to some comercial site, but it would be easiest to get it here. This does not constitute an endorsement of their company, but I will say I've had nothing but pleasant dealings with them. OK, I guess that does constitute an endorsement. Anyway, get this book and CD.
(update July 2005: you can also get this book here).
This is the most thorough book for English speakers interested in Icelandic. It was originally printed in 1945 but is being reprinted as of this writing. This is an excellent, thorough, well-organized book, I actually got this after the book below but find this much more useful. Excellent exercises. The drawbacks are there are no answers to the exercises so you can't be sure you're doing them right (if someone has the answers, please let me know) and the spectacular glossary only goes from Icelandic to English - if you want to know the Icelandic equivalent to an English word, you have to guess and see if you're right (you might get good at this though.) This book is around $21, and they did scrimp a little on the binding, but I would rather get it as it is than spend $40 for a well bound version.
This is a small paperback and I was very happy to find it in my local bookstore. It is very dense, it has a lot of stuff and working through it is slow going - but well worth it. Icelandic is not easy, this book tries to cover everything grammatically and does a great job. If you are looking for a useful phrasebook or learning conversation - this is not the book. I've studied this book for a few years (off and on) and although I just got the Einarsson book above, I still refer back to this as I know where things are in it. If you're learning Icelandic, you should have this book, but if you get only one, get one of the ones above. This one does have a two-way glossary and answers to the exercises.
Update: OK, a lot of people wrote and said they do not like this book. The other two above are better, in my opinion, but this one has merit, it is fairly grammar intensive at the beginning and the exercises are not very good, but it does introduce the grammar in a different pattern than the above, and I think getting a lot of different looks can only help. Don't get bogged down in learning the whole slew of inflections for nouns. Again, this is the least useful but still useful.
This is the only dictionary I have for Icelandic, it's very concise but it does the job. You will need to use it in combination with a good glossary like in the above two books. It costs less than $10 and I have seen it on the shelf at the local bookstore. I've never seen the other dictionaries, but as they are $60 or more, or much more, it may be a long time before I need them. It doesn't have modern words like 'computer' but you can find these elsewhere. This is your dictionary.
This one is brand new, several folks have written me to tell me about it. It looks pretty good but I haven't seen it yet. It's on my list but I'm in no hurry to buy it as I love the "Learning Icelandic" book so much, I can't imagine there is a better one.
Here's a review from David Roger:I recommend a recently published book and cassettes (...Colloquial Icelandic...)
The dialogues cover everyday situations, and the lessons progressively introduce the student to the nouns and verbs without overwhelming you with detail. There are unfortunately a few misprints in the appendices on declensions and conjugations, but they are fairly easy for even a puzzled beginner to spot and sort out.
I had such high hopes for this book, given that it has lots of verbs fully conjugated, but I strongly recommend you avoid this book. It is so poorly organized and written as to be essentially useless, there are lots of verbs conjugated but there is no index or systematic way to find them! Very dissapointing.
From: (Bernie Abel)
Subject: við lærum íslensku
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 2004 02:38:28 -0400
This is the best Icelandic Phrase page, it's been around a long time and it went away for a while but it's back here now, thanks to it's originator, Jeff Feeley.
This is a huge page This is the page - enjoy.
Icelandic is chock full of grammar, this is the best attempt I've seen to cover it on the internet - excellent job. If your waiting for your copy of Einarsson's grammar to be delivered, go here for a great start.
One of my favourtie German learning resources is a book with just 501 verbs conjugated, I wish it had an Icelandic counterpart. Well, here is it's online version, enjoy! Thanks to Steven Elzinga for pointing this out. I actually used it for Old English conjugations, it is a great site has a myriad of languages, includin Frisian, Gothic, Even Norn, the extinct Norse variant from Orkney.
This one works great. The best online dictionary I've seen. If the word you're looking for doesn't come up, start taking letters off the back and it probably will! You do have to register for a free trial to use this. The free trial is supposed to expire, but mine hasn't, even months after it was supposed to. Thanks to Gunnar Proppe for finding this.
This is a news and what-have-you web portal like yahoo or netscape but in Icelandic, perhaps a good jumping off point, or make it your home page at work to scare your co-workers. Thanks to Gunnar Proppe for this one and the next two links.
Here is Icelandic poetry by Jónas Hallgrímsson with the english translations next to it. I find these side by side translations really helpful - I don't have to go fumbling for the dictionary. Let me know if you know of any more side-by-side translations on the web...
Want to see what Icelanders read for their news and see how well you're doing or how far you have to go? Here is Iceland's largest newspaper's web site. Don't get too frustrated if even after several months this is still incomprehensible and takes you ten minutes to translate a sentence. Patience, grasshopper. Be sure and check out the Dilbert comics with Icelandic translations...
Here's an amazing number of icelandic related links collected by David Reith.
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