Iceland Mag

5 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Cannot agree on the correct way to spell certain country names

By Staff

  • Right or wrong? Is Chile spelt Síle or Chile in Icelandic? 

According to the National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have published lists on how to correctly spell the names of all the countries in the world. However, the two lists display some discrepancy when it comes to certain countries, leaving many confused and unsure.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows the lead of other European countries when it comes to the Icelandic spelling of Belarus (spelling it Belarus), while Árnastofnun claims it is called Hvíta-Rússland (which directly translates to White-Russia).  

Read more: Where does the Icelandic language stem from?

The two institutes also cannot agree on the correct spelling of Kyrgyzstan: Árnastofnun maintains it is spelt Kirgisistan, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it is Kyrgyzstan.

Is Singapore spelt Singapúr or Singapor? And what about Chile? Is it spelt Chile or Síle?

Read more: Icelandic rated among the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers

Icelander’s can soon breathe easy as the institutes now intend to coordinate their lists. Representatives from both institutes as well as representatives from RÚV, Statistics Iceland and the Icelandic Language Committee (Íslensk málnefnd) have been appointed to take on the task of standardising the spelling of country names.  

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