Friday, November 09, 2007


If you're a native English speaker, Farose can be a pretty difficult language to figure out. While it's based on old Norse, it has a mostly oral tradition. It wasn't even written down until the 1850s. Once they started writing it down, the lettering often had little to do with the pronunciation. I've bee noticing that a lot when looking at place names in the Faroe Islands.

For instance, when you fly into the islands, you land on the island of Vagar which, of course, is pronounced, "vow-whar."

And that's just the start of it. Hvannasund is pronounced "kwana-sund." Gjógv? "Jek-v."

I thought I knew how to pronounce "Kirkjubøur." I believe Norwegian is has a bit on common with German. So if you pronounce Kirk like the German for "church," then turn the "j" into a "y" and pretty much guess what to do with the "ø." What do I come up with? "keerk-you-bore." Not even close. Try: "cheer-chi-ba."

On top of it all, there are mystery letters, namely "ð." I don't know what that is or how you pronounce it. I'm told it's not pronounced at all in many cases. So Eiði is pronounced: "ay-ee."

I could probably spend the rest of my life tryin to figure out how to pronounce "Viðareiði." Would you believe it's ", vee-ar-oy-yee"? That's what some book told me, anyway.

This week's Faroe photo comes from a collection on Flickr. It's of a village called Mykines on a island of the same name. Only 20 people live on the island and it's considered by many to be the most beautiful of the Faroe Islands. It's not easy to get there. Rough seas can make it impossible for helicopters and ferries to arrive and tourists are advised to avoid Mykines if their schedules are too tight. They may not be able to get back on time.

And in case you're wondering, it's pronounced "mitch-i-ness."



At 3:37 am, Blogger Birchsprite said...

I love the beautiful colours of the houses... so pretty

At 2:31 pm, Blogger Ogie said...

It is so true that the Faroese language is difficult to learn. There are not many resources out there unless you are willing to spend some time on the islands. The written word and the spoken word is so different for me. Myself it is much easier to understand the spoken word then the written. The Faroese University does offer a class in the summer if anyone has the time to spend about a month in the Faroe Islands. It is the only course that I know of.

At 11:55 pm, Blogger Ogie said...

Workman I have written a post in my blog that gives some more resources for anyone that might want to find out more or would like to learn the Faroese language.

I hope this might help others.


At 9:05 am, Anonymous Jenny said...

My Faroese/English dictionary has about 20 pages of rules for pronouncing Faroese words. The ð is the worst - it may be silent,or it may sound like y, v, w, or g, depending on the context. Good luck!

You forgot to mention the different dialects. On Eysturoy, where I am staying for the time being, "ei" is pronounced "oy", which means that "Eiði" is pronounced "Oyih".

At 6:53 pm, Blogger Faroe-Man said...

You mention Mykines there. There is a monument there, to remember a ship, which went down, just before reaching land. This was sometime in the 1930's. 3 summers ago, me and another guy, built that monument.

God is Gud in faroese, and sometimes it's spelled with an ð, Guð.

As i single letter, ð is pronounced 'edd'

At 6:54 pm, Blogger Faroe-Man said...

As a single letter*


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