Language Committee Objects To English-Only Road Warnings - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Language Committee Objects To English-Only Road Warnings

Published September 20, 2013

The Icelandic Language Committee has taken exception to using English as the sole language on road signs warning drivers of closures and extreme weather.

Vísir reports that the Icelandic Road Administration has decided to make signs warning of road closings or poor weather display in English rather than Icelandic. As reported, tourists have ended up stranded and in need of costly rescues due to not understanding Icelandic on such signs.
However, the Icelandic Language Committee believes this decision is in violation of the law on The Status Of The Icelandic Tongue and Icelandic Sign Language. The 8th article of this law states, “Icelandic is the language of parliament and the government, whether national or municipal, of education at every level and of institutions which engage in public service.”
The committee admits that it is important that foreigners be informed when roads have suddenly closed due to inclement weather or natural disaster, but that a way to do so must be found that does not violate the law.
If you do not understand Icelandic, and plan to take your rental car into the countryside, the Grapevine recommends you check the Icelandic Met Office’s English page and the Road Administration’s English page first. To ensure maximum accuracy, check these pages on the day of your journey.

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