The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages is a research institute within the Humanities Faculty of the University of Iceland. The Institute is a research centre for scholars who teach modern languages and cultures, the classical languages, and translation studies.

Languages are the key to national cultures and a specialized knowledge of these will enable Icelanders to have a voice in the world’s affairs. The valuable resource of linguistic and cultural skills must be cultivated in a land where survival depends to a great extent on relations with other countries. Globalisation makes new demands on such knowledge and skills in relation to the constantly growing utilisation of modern communications in all aspects of life, and those individuals, businesses and public institutions which can rely on a good command of foreign languages and cultural insights will be far better placed internationally in our increasingly competitive world.

We have as our guiding light in the pursuit of our linguistic and cultural research the aim of increasing the knowledge of foreign languages in all aspects of our daily life and examining and strengthening cultural exchange and the dissemination of ideas between nations. In this way we give our support to increasing relations between peoples of different nationalities while, at the same time, expanding the individual’s and society’s international cultural skills as a whole. For us, languages, cultures and communication are all part of one interconnected web, and we know that in the speedy process of globalization, in which the entire world becomes the stage for co-operation, trade, science and education, the key to success can be found in foreign language proficiency and cultural skills.

Strengthening and Diversifying Research

We at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute intend to strengthen and diversify research so as to become a leading participant in scholarly discussion on languages, language teaching and cultural studies. We will seek new and demanding subjects, both within Iceland itself and through international co-operation with other institutes. Research in the fields of literature and cultural studies can increase our knowledge of trends and attitudes in other cultural domains and make it easier for us Icelanders to understand our own literature and cultural environment.

With research and increased knowledge in linguistics the foundations can be laid for specific scholarly analyses of the special features of foreign languages, which can then be employed in many fields: in teaching, in comparisons with Icelandic, in language proficiency, and in translation.

Translation studies are the key to our communicating at all levels with foreign cultural domains. As a sparsely populated nation in a globalised community it is necessary for us to cultivate knowledge of exactly where these cultural domains meet, in translation, a skill, which grows in importance with every passing year. Translation is one of the most active means possible of cultivating linguistic knowledge and skills.

More and more Icelanders need a competence in foreign languages as an individual’s progress at college or at work can be determined by his/her knowledge of a foreign language. The number of foreigners who wish to learn Icelandic grows steadily every year and they are the bearers of Icelandic culture throughout the rest of the world. In a globalised world there is thus an urgent need to increase research in the teaching of foreign languages and the teaching of Icelandic as a foreign language.

Languages, Industry and Trade

The value of language proficiency for industry and trade is unequivocable. Tourism has become one of the most important means of employment in Iceland, and there has been increased specialisation in exports due to the emergence of high-technology companies; cultural exchanges are becoming increasingly varied, and Icelandic companies are actively seeking more and more foreign markets. Import companies also need to be able to comply with the demands of a competitive market by providing accurate information to customers and consumers. All this calls for increased research into the role of languages and language proficiency in industry and trade.

Language and Culture Contact in the West-Nordic Region

The Research Network Language and Culture Contact in the West-Nordic Region, or West-Nordic Network, for short, is a group of researchers interested in the Western Nordic Region (i.e. the west coast of Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland), focusing on language and culture contact (inside and outside) in this region, including literature, linguistics and language learning.

More about the project.

Language Consultancy and Services

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute provides a consultancy in language research and actively disseminates knowledge of its various academic fields, through specialized services in connection with language teaching, linguistics, language use, translations and cultural studies – subjects which can make a difference in terms of progress and success for individuals, institutes and companies in our modern multinational world.

Lectures, Seminars and Conferences

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute provides lectures by specialists, seminars, and conferences on its various areas of expertise. Conferences have already been held on poetry translation, language proficiency, and the language and culture of the Faeroe Isles. Seminars are frequently held on foreign languages and trade and industry, and the Institute’s scholars travel all over the world to attend international conferences in their fields of specialization. During term-time there is a regular linguistics seminar and many Icelandic and foreign scholars have presented papers in this forum. Further information on the lectures, seminars, and conferences held by the Institute can be found on this website.

Current Projects

Scholars at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute are currently involved in a number of research projects, covering a wide variety of subjects, including the following:

  • Use of computers and electronic databases in language teaching and linguistic research.
  • Use and development of translation and bilingual databases.
  • Research on Spanish language and literature.
  • British and American sport literature.
  • Canadian literature, especially the work of authors of Icelandic descent.
  • Development of new teaching methods in German.
  • Women’s fiction and identity in Latin-American literature.
  • Problems of English pronunciation for Icelanders.
  • Spanish-Icelandic dictionary.
  • Proficiency in Danish of Icelandic students doing postgraduate studies in Denmark.
  • Linguistics.
  • Swedish by Distance Learning.
  • Research on British drama.
  • Research on the role of Icelandic/Old Norse literature in the British and German Enlightenment.
  • Research into media translations in Iceland.
  • Translation of Old Norse sagas into French.
  • Cultural studies and cultural difference in Scandinavian literature.
  • Language skills of Icelandic scholars from the Reformation until the 19th century.
  • Language proficiency in trade and industry.

Future Projects

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute is keen to pursue the following goals:

  • To increase significantly language research.
  • To establish a powerful research fund for the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute.
  • To increase and strengthen postgraduate courses in foreign languages and translation.
  • To improve facilities for language research.
  • To sponsor exceptional students on postgraduate courses in foreign languages.
  • To increase international relations by inviting leading scholars in the Institute’s fields of interest from all around the world.
  • To support informed discussion in the Institute’s scholarly fields through lectures, seminars and conferences.
  • To hold presentations and exhibitions of the Institute’s work in order to increase co-operation with foreign universities and find sponsors who wish to support the Institute’s programmes.
  • To increase the publication of academic works and publish a journal covering the Institute’s fields of study and research.
  • To develop new language teaching methods.
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