An Indo-European language and a member of the North Germanic group (the West Scandinavian branch), spoken by over 250,000 people mainly in the Republic of Iceland, where it is the official language, with some further speakers in Canada and the USA.
The language was attested from the Middle Ages in a form described as Old Norse which is best known as the language of the mediaeval sagas. Modern Icelandic has retained many of the features of the older period, which is partly due to its geographical position. Although dialectal differences are not great, the main division is between harðmæli in Northern Iceland and linmæli spoken in Southern Iceland, including Reykjavik.
One of the most remarkable features of the Icelandic spelling system devised in the mid-12th century is an early application of the phonemic principle. The language was spelt in Gothic until the 19th century when it was replaced by the Roman alphabet.
CLASSIFICATION = Indo-European family , SCRIPT = Roman