Do you like my picture? I have taken it on Mykines, the westernmost island of the Faroe archipelago. Mykines belongs to the oldest part of Faroe Islands, it was formed about 60 Million years ago, and it is one of the outer islands. The most common method of getting to this remote beauty is to take the ferry. The Mykines harbor is a very small inlet with extremely steep cliffs on all sides. Be prepared to make an uphill climb after you disembark. Also note how easily bad weather can make docking in the harbor impossible.
In case that you have managed to go ashore, pretty soon you will come across a sign. The writing is in Faroese. Taking a look around will help you to find out what it means: „Take care. Steep area“. Faroese derives from Old Norse and is closely related to Icelandic and Norwegian. The first document that indicates the development of Faroese language is named Seyðabrævið – a legal document from the end of 13th century. Until the Reformation, the writing had been done in Faroese. Afterwards Danish was the language of religion, education and administration. Up to the 19th century, the Faroese language survived orally and was handed-down from generation to generation through poems and ballads.
Modern written Faroese is based on the work of Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb. In 1846, the theologian and philologist created his spelling system for Faroese. Today, Faroese is used in all matters. Grammar rules are similar to German grammar. I like the sound of Faroese. Although Faroe Islands are small, dialects do exist. On the northern Islands „no“ sounds like „noi“, farther south it is pronounced „nei“.
Fear creeps up your neck now, because you think: Anja, I really like your pictures and stories from Faroe Islands, I was just about to book my ticket – and then you started to talk about language. How on earth will I get along? Anja’s response: Dear reader, I can put your mind at ease. There is nothing to worry about. Almost everyone on Faroe Islands speaks fluent English. The cashier at the supermarket. Your host. And the guy from the ferry that brought you to Mykines. His English is close to perfection. And he is just about to tell you that, due to bad weather, you will have to stay on Mykines overnight. Will there be an ferry taking you back to the main islands on the next morning? Kanska. Maybe. What else can be said. Farvæl, góða nátt. Goodbye and good night.