Faroese language

færøsk sprog
føroyskt mál
Pronunciation[ˈføːɹɪst mɔaːl]
Native toFaroe Islands, Denmark, Greenland
EthnicityFaroe Islanders
Native speakers
72,000 (2007)[1]
Early forms
Latin (Faroese orthography)
Faroese Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Faroe Islands
Regulated byFøroyska málnevndin
Language codes
ISO 639-3fao
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Faroese[4] (z/ or z/;[5] Faroese: føroyskt mál, pronounced [ˈføːɹɪst mɔaːl]) is a North Germanic language spoken as a first language by about 72,000 people, around 49,000 of whom reside on the Faroe Islands and 23,000 in other areas, mainly Denmark. It is one of five languages descended from Old West Norse spoken in the Middle Ages, the others being Norwegian, Icelandic, and the extinct Norn and Greenlandic Norse. 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.[6]


The Faroese: Seyðabrævið) is the oldest surviving document of the Faroe Islands. Written in 1298 in Old Norse, it contains some words and expressions believed to be especially Faroese.[7]
The approximate extent of Old Norse and related languages in the early 10th century:
  Old West Norse dialect
  Old East Norse dialect
  Other Germanic languages with which Old Norse still retained some mutual intelligibility
The Famjin Stone, a Faroese runestone

Around 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 825. However, many of the settlers were not from Scandinavia, but descendants of Norse settlers in the Irish Sea region. 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, Lítla Dímun and Argir 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.[8]

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.

Faroese ceased to be a written language after the union of Norway with Denmark in 1380, with Danish replacing Faroese as the language of administration and education.[9] 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.

In 1823 the Danish Bible Society published a diglot of the Gospel of Matthew, with Faroese on the left and Danish on the right.

Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb and the Icelandic grammarian and politician Jón Sigurðsson published a written standard for Modern Faroese in 1854, which still exists.[10] They set a standard for the orthography of the language, based on its Old Norse roots and similar to that of Icelandic. The main purpose of this was for the spelling to represent the diverse dialects of Faroese in equal measure. Additionally, it had the advantages of being etymologically clear and keeping the kinship with the Icelandic written language. The actual pronunciation, however, often differs considerably from the written rendering. The letter ð, for example, has no specific phoneme attached to it.

Jakob Jakobsen devised a rival system of orthography, based on his wish for a phonetic spelling, but this system was never taken up by the speakers.[11]

In 1908 Scripture Gift Mission published the Gospel of John in Faroese.

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.[citation needed] Today Danish is considered a foreign language, although around 5% of residents on the Faroes learn it as a first language, and it is a required subject for students in third grade[12] and up.

The Visit Faroese tourism organisation launched the Faroe Islands Translate online service in 2017, available in English and another 13 languages including Chinese, Russian, Japanese, and Portuguese. A Faroese video database has also been built.[13]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Faroëes
አማርኛ: ፋሮኛ
Ænglisc: Faroisc sprǣc
aragonés: Idioma feroés
asturianu: Feroés
azərbaycanca: Farer dili
Bân-lâm-gú: Faroe-gí
беларуская: Фарэрская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Фарэрская мова
български: Фарьорски език
bosanski: Farski jezik
brezhoneg: Faeroeg
català: Feroès
čeština: Faerština
Cymraeg: Ffaröeg
davvisámegiella: Fearagiella
Ελληνικά: Φεροϊκή γλώσσα
español: Idioma feroés
Esperanto: Feroa lingvo
euskara: Faroera
Fiji Hindi: Faroese language
føroyskt: Føroyskt mál
français: Féroïen
Frysk: Fêreusk
Gaeilge: An Fharóis
Gaelg: Faaroish
Gàidhlig: Fàrothais
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Faroe-ngî
한국어: 페로어
հայերեն: Ֆարյորերեն
hornjoserbsce: Färöšćina
hrvatski: Ferojski jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Faroe
íslenska: Færeyska
italiano: Lingua faroese
עברית: פארואזית
kalaallisut: Savalimmiutut
ქართული: ფარერული ენა
kernowek: Faroyek
Kinyarwanda: Igifero
latviešu: Fēru valoda
lietuvių: Farerų kalba
Limburgs: Faeröers
Lingua Franca Nova: Faroisce (lingua)
lumbaart: Lengua faroesa
македонски: Фарски јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny feroiana
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Faroe
Nederlands: Faeröers
Nedersaksies: Färöösk
日本語: フェロー語
Nordfriisk: Färöisk
Norfuk / Pitkern: Faaroyean
norsk: Færøysk
norsk nynorsk: Færøysk
occitan: Feroés
олык марий: Фарер йылме
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Farer tili
پنجابی: فیروئی بولی
Piemontèis: Lenga faroèisa
português: Língua feroesa
qırımtatarca: Farer tili
română: Limba feroeză
Seeltersk: Färöisk
sicilianu: Lingua faruisa
Simple English: Faroese language
slovenčina: Faerčina
slovenščina: Ferščina
српски / srpski: Ферјарски језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Farski jezik
svenska: Färöiska
татарча/tatarça: Фарер теле
Türkçe: Faroece
українська: Фарерська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: فائېروس تىل
vepsän kel’: Fareran kel'
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Faroe
walon: Faeroyès
粵語: 法羅文
Zazaki: Faroeki
žemaitėška: Farėru kalba
中文: 法罗语