|Native to||Faroe Islands, Denmark|
|Latin (Faroese alphabet)
Official language in
|Regulated by||Faroese Language Board Føroyska málnevndin|
Faroese // (føroyskt, pronounced [ˈføːɹɪst]) is a North Germanic language spoken as a native language by about 66,000 people, 45,000 of whom reside on the Faroe Islands and 21,000 in other areas, mainly Denmark. It is one of four languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic, and the extinct Norn. Faroese and Icelandic, its closest extant relative, are not mutually intelligible in speech, but the written languages resemble each other quite closely, largely owing to Faroese's etymological orthography.
Around AD 900, the language spoken in the Faroes was Old Norse, which Norse settlers had brought with them during the time of the settlement of Faroe Islands (landnám) that began in AD 825. However, many of the settlers were not from Scandinavia, but descendants of Norse settlers in the Irish Sea. In addition, women from Norse Ireland, Orkney, or Shetland often married native Scandinavian men before settling in the Faroe Islands and Iceland. As a result, the Irish language has had some influence on both Faroese and Icelandic. There is some debatable evidence of Irish language place names in the Faroes: for example, the names of Mykines, Stóra Dímun and Lítla Dímun have been hypothesized to contain Celtic roots. Other examples of early-introduced words of Celtic origin are: "blak/blaðak" (buttermilk), cf. Middle Irish bláthach; "drunnur" (tail-piece of an animal), cf. Middle Irish dronn; "grúkur" (head, headhair), cf. Middle Irish gruaig; "lámur" (hand, paw), cf. Middle Irish lámh; "tarvur" (bull), cf. Middle Irish tarbh; and "ærgi" (pasture in the outfield), cf. Middle Irish áirge.
Between the 9th and the 15th centuries, a distinct Faroese language evolved, although it was probably still mutually intelligible with Old West Norse, and remained similar to the Norn language of Orkney and Shetland during Norn's earlier phase.
Until the 15th century Faroese had an orthography similar to Icelandic and Norwegian, but after the Reformation in 1536 the ruling Danes outlawed its use in schools, churches and official documents. The islanders continued to use the language in ballads, folktales, and everyday life. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for 300 years the language was not used in written form.
This changed when Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb and the Icelandic grammarian and politician Jón Sigurðsson published a written standard for Modern Faroese in 1854, which is still in existence. They set a standard for the orthography of the language, based on its Old Norse roots and similar to that of Icelandic. This had the advantage of being etymologically clear, as well as keeping the kinship with the Icelandic written language. The actual pronunciation, however, often differs from the written rendering. The letter ð, for example, has no specific phoneme attached to it.
In 1937, Faroese replaced Danish as the official school language, in 1938 as the church language, and in 1948 as the national language by the Home Rule Act of the Faroes. However, Faroese did not become the common language of media and advertising until the 1980s. Today Danish is considered a foreign language, though around 5% of residents on the Faroes learn it as a first language, and it is a required subject for students in third grade and up.
Old Faroese (miðaldarføroyskt, ca. mid. 14th - mid. 16th century) is a form of Old Norse spoken in medieval Faroe Islands. The language shares many features with both Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian; Old Norwegian appears to be closer to Old Faroese, Old Icelandic remained rather archaic compared to other medieval varieties of Old West Norse. The crucial question of development of Faroese is diphthongisation and palatalisation. Unfortunatelly there are not much data to establish chronology of Faroese, but some chronology may be established by analogies in Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian. In 12th/13th century á and ǫ́ merged to /ɔː/, later on at the beginning of the 14th century itacism took place: y, øy, au > /i, ɔi, ɛi/, itacism of ý is not sure, í and ý merged together as well as i and y, but in case of í/ý it appears that labilaisation took place instead as is documented in later development to /ʊɪ/. Itacism may be also connected with palatalisation of k, g and sk > /kj, ɡj, skj/ > /cç, ɟʝ, ɕcç/ > /ʧh, ʧ, ʃ/. Approximately in the same period é and ǽ merged to /ɛː/ and svarabhakti u is inserted into Cr cluster. The Great Quantity Shift operated in 15th/16th century. In case of skerping it took place after itacism but before loss of post-vocalic ð and g /ɣ/. Changes such as hr, hl, hn > r, l, n; þ > t (but in an unstressed syllable þ > h) and hv > /kw/ appeared before the end of the 13th century. Another undated merger is ǫ and ø > /ø/, but ǫ before a nasal merges with o. Probably in the 14th century enk, eng > eing, eink; development of a to /ɛ/ before ng, nk appeared after palatalisation of k, g, sk has been finished.
|up to 14th Century
(Late Old Faroese)
|e and æ||/e/||/eː/||/eː/||/ɛ/||/e/||/ɛ/||[eː]||[ɛ]||[eː]||[ɛ]||e|
|Long vowel -> Diphthong|
|é and ǽ||/ɛː/||/ɛː/||/eː/||/ɛaː/||/ɛa/||/eː/||/ɛ/||[ɛa]||[a]||[eː]||[ɛ]||æ|
|á and ǫ́||/ɔː/||/ɔː/||/ɔaː/||/ɔa/||/ɔaː/||/ɔa/||[ɔa]||[ɔ]||[ɔa]||[ɔ]||á|
The Faroese alphabet consists of 29 letters derived from the Latin script:
|Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)|
|Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)|
As with other Germanic languages, Faroese has a large number of vowels, with 26 in total. Vowel distribution is similar to other North Germanic languages in that short vowels appear in closed syllables (those ending in consonant clusters or long consonants) and long vowels appearing in open syllables. Árnason (2011) provides the following alternations:
|/ø/||høgur||[ˈhøːʋʊɹ~ˈhøœʋʊɹ]||'high (M.)'||høgt||[hœkt]||'high (N.)'|
|/ʊi/||hvítur||[ˈkvʊiːtʊɹ]||'white (M.)'||hvítt||[kvʊiʰtː]||'white (N.)'|
|/ɛi/||deyður||[ˈteiːjʊɹ]||'dead (M.)'||deytt||[tɛʰtː]||'dead (N.)'|
|/ai/||feitur||[ˈfaiːtʊɹ]||'fat (M.)'||feitt||[faiʰtː~fɔiʰtː]||'fat (N.)'|
|/ɛa/||spakur||[ˈspɛaː(ʰ)kʊɹ]||'calm (M.)'||spakt||[spakt]||'calm (N.)'|
|/ɔa/||vátur||[ˈvɔaːtʊɹ]||'wet (M.)'||vátt||[vɔʰtː]||'wet (N.)'|
|/ʉu/||fúlur||[ˈfʉuːlʊɹ]||'foul (M.)'||fúlt||[fʏl̥t]||'foul (N.)'|
|/ɔu/||tómur||[ˈtʰɔuːmʊɹ~ˈtʰœuːmʊɹ]||'empty (M.)'||tómt||[tʰœm̥t~tʰɔm̥t]||'empty (N.)'|
Faroese shares with other North Germanic languages the feature of contrasting aspirated and unaspirated stops. Geminated stops may be pre-aspirated in intervocalic and word-final position. *Intervocalically the aspirated consonants become pre-aspirated unless followed by a closed vowel. In clusters, the preaspiration merges with a preceding nasal or apical approximant, rendering them voiceless.
There are several phonological processes involved in Faroese, including:
Faroese grammar is related and very similar to that of modern Icelandic and Old Norse. Faroese is an inflected language with three grammatical genders and four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive.
|Faroese||Norwegian (bokmål)||Norwegian (nynorsk)||English||Frisian||Icelandic||Danish||Swedish||German||Dutch|
|Farvæl||Farvel||Farvel||Farewell||Farwol||Far vel; Farðu heill||Farvel||Farväl||Lebewohl||Vaarwel|
|Hvussu eitur tú?||Hva heter du?||Kva heiter du?||What is your name?||Wat is dyn namme?||Hvað heitir þú?||Hvad hedder du?||Vad heter du?||Wie heißt Du?||Hoe heet je?|
|Hvussu gongur?||Hvordan går det?||Korleis gjeng/går det?||How is it going? (How goes it?)||Hoe giet it?||Hvernig gengur?||Hvordan går det?||Hur går det?||Wie geht es?||Hoe gaat het?|
|Hvussu gamal(m)/gomul(f) ert tú?||Hvor gammel er du?||Kor gamal er du?||How old are you?||Hoe âld bist?||Hversu gamall ertu?||Hvor gammel er du?||Hur gammal är du?||Wie alt bist Du?||Hoe oud ben je?|
|Faroese edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|For a list of words relating to Faroese language, see the Faroese language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Faroese edition of Wikisource, the free library|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Faroese.|