Faroese is the national language and is rooted in Old Norse. Most Faroese readily understand other Nordic languages, and English is also widely spoken, especially among the younger people.
The modern Faroese language derives from the Viking Age Old Norse language. The Norse people who were to colonize the Faroes mainly came from southwest Norway, sailing west and in turn reached the coasts of Scotland, Shetland, Orkney, the Hebrides, the Faroes, and Iceland. At that time, Viking culture was comparatively uniform and there were few linguistic differences. In the course of time, however, the various Norse regions developed their own culture and the Old Norse language split into different dialects. In some places the language even died out completely.
The Faroese language survived as an independent language; but for a long time threatened to become extinct. After the Reformation, Danish became the language of the Church; Danish was the written language and in time was used in all official matters. When the first scholarly research into the language was initiated at the end of the 18th century, its aim was to collect and document what was regarded as the remains of the old language. But research soon revealed a vivid collection of old words and sayings, established turns of speech, legends, and ballads. This formed the foundation for the subsequent preservation of the Faroese language, which is still developing today and is a cornerstone of modern Faroese culture.
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