Icelandic Heritage in North America

Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir (Editor), Höskuldur Thráinsson (Editor), Úlfar Bragason (Editor)

A celebration of cultural inheritance and the evolution of language.

Mapping the language, literature, and history of Icelandic immigrants and their descendants, this collection, translated and expanded for English-speaking audiences, delivers a comprehensive overview of Icelandic linguistic and cultural heritage in North America. Drawn from the findings of a three-year study involving over two hundred participants from Manitoba, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and the Pacific West Coast, Icelandic Heritage in North America reveals the durability and versatility of the Icelandic language.

Editors Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Höskuldur Thráinsson, and Úlfar Bragason bring together a range of interdisciplinary scholarship to investigate the endurance of the “Western Icelander.” Chapters delve into the literary works of Icelandic immigrant writers and interpret archival letters, newspapers, and journal entries to provide both qualitative and quantitative linguistic analyses and to mark significant cultural shifts between early settlement and today.


Icelandic Heritage in North America [offers] vivid portrayals of societal changes through the generations—a refreshing new look at what is often presented as a steady, inevitable march of assimilation.”

David Jón Fuller, Winnipeg Free Press

About the Authors

Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir is professor emerita of Second Language Studies at the University of Iceland, former dean of the Faculty of Languages and Culture, and director of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute.

Höskuldur Thráinsson is professor emeritus of Modern Icelandic Linguistics at the University of Iceland, former dean of the Faculty of Humanities, chair of the Centre for the Humanities, and director of the Institute of Linguistics.

Úlfar Bragason is professor emeritus at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and former director of the Sigurður Nordal Institute at the University of Iceland.

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