Although there are other languages spoken in the Faroe Islands, Faroese is the official language. Before 1937, the year that Faroese was made the official language, Danish was used widely in settings such as schools. In 1938, Faroese began to be used in churches and later became the national language of the Faroe Islands in 1948 after the Second World War. However, in modern Faroe Island, Danish still hasofficial status with Faroese to some extent because the Faroe Islands are a self-governing nation within the Danish Territory. Around 1980, Faroese started to be used in media and advertising. The language is among the West Scandinavian category and is also the smallest language of the North Germanic languages. There are 29 letters of the Faroese alphabet stemming from the Latin lettering.

Faroese is spoken by approximately 48,000 people who occupy the island. This figure makes up 90.8% of the entire population. The second language that is widely used in the Faroe Islands is Danish, spoken by 3.1% of the population. Virtually everyone on the island can communicate and write in Danish because it is taught in the early years of school. Swedish is spoken by 0.09%, Norwegian by 0.2%, and Icelandic by 0.4%. These languages are understood and used in parts of the island, and many people especially the youth are also efficient in the use of the English language.

The Faroese language is closely associated with Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. Out of these languages, the closest to Faroese is Icelandic. As a result, when Icelanders communicate with Faroese speakers, there is mutual understanding to some extent. There is familiarity in both words and grammatical structure among these Nordic languages. Useful words are phrases used by the Faroese include ‘orsaka meg’ which means excuse me, ‘takk’ for thank you, ‘tao Harmar meg’ for sorry, and skilji ikki which translates to I don’t understand, among others.

Despite the Faroe Islands being small, there are other languages used by a small population alongside Faroese and Danish. The languages include English, Icelandic, Filipino, Norwegian, Thai, Romanian, Chinese, Polish, Greenlandic, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, and Serbian.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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