“Coffee and kleina,” reads a large sign at a roadside coffee shop by one of the main roads in
Reykjavik. Not so many years ago, such a billboard would simply have read: “Kaffi og kleina” – in the language of the Vikings, the official language of Iceland.
It is a privilege of the few to be able to read and write Icelandic, a language understood by only around 400,000 people worldwide. Icelandic, in which the historic Sagas were written in the 13th and 14th centuries, has changed so little since then on our small and isolated island, that we can still more or less read them as they were first written.