Icelanders Still Getting Used To Icelandic With An Accent - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelanders Still Getting Used To Icelandic With An Accent

Published February 4, 2016

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A doctorate student of Icelandic says not everyone has the same capabilities or chances of learning Icelandic, but asking that immigrants working in the service sector have a basic command of Icelandic is “a fair request”.

In a radio interview with Bylgjan, Stefanie Bade, a German doctorate student of Icelandic at the University of Iceland, talked a bit about foreigners’ use of Icelandic and the reaction of Icelanders to hearing Icelandic with an accent. The subject has been on the minds of many in the wake of a recent broadcast of weather news by a German meteorologist. While the meteorologist spoke in perfect Icelandic, native speakers hearing their language spoken with an accent received mixed reviews.

“The discussion is important,” Stefanie said in the interview. “There are all kinds of factors that play into how we process a foreign accent. There are also individual factors, such as how old the listener is, and how much experience a person has interacting with foreigners. I believe Icelanders are still not very accustomed to listening to foreigners.”

On the subject of whether basic Icelandic comprehension should be a requirement for working in service jobs, Stefanie said she believed this a fair request to make.

“I think that’s a very fair request, but not everybody can devote themselves equally to learning it,” she said. “Foreigners are not a monolith; they have different histories and backgrounds.”

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