The VFI has been pressing for several years for work to get started on the compilation of a new Icelandic-French dictionary. The need is great, the last Icelandic-French dictionary having come out in 1950. Behind the matter lies a long history going back to an agreement on cultural and scientific co-operation between Iceland and France that was signed in Paris on 12 April 1983 following a meeting between Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and François Mitterand, the then presidents of the two countries. In the first paragraph of the agreement the signatories are enjoined to work ‘in close co-operation to develop and improve knowledge of each other’s language and culture in their own country’. This led eventually, in 1995, to the publication of Frönsk-íslensk orðabók (French-Icelandic Dictionary) by the publishers Örn & Örlygur, with a headword list based on Micro Robert supplied by the French government and the Icelandic government financing the costs of the comparative work between French and Icelandic. Considerable progress has been made since and there are now signs of a new Icelandic-French dictionary finally seeing the light of day.
Following government-level talks involving minister of science, education and culture, Illugi Gunnarsson, on his visit to France late in 2014, in May 2015 the French authorities authorised a grant of €40,000 to the VFI towards the compilation of an Icelandic-French dictionary. The grant was awarded jointly by La Délégation Générale de la Langue Française et Des Langues de France, which comes under the French culture ministry and whose remit includes the French language and other languages spoken in France, and Le Centre Nationale du Livre as representative of the publishing industry in France. The grant is for €120,000.
The VFI and a group of other parties interested in working on a new Icelandic-French dictionary were also awarded an Erasmus+ grant for a collaborative project at university level. Alongside the VFI, the group comprises the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, l’Université Paris-Sorbonne IV in France and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The VFI’s representatives on the project are Ásdís R. Magnúsdóttir, professor of French, Rósa Elín Davíðsdóttir, doctoral student in lexicology at the University of Iceland Department of French Studies and the Sorbonne, Erla Erlendsdóttir, senior lecturer in Spanish, and Oddný G. Sverrisdóttir, professor of German. The representatives from the Árni Magnússon Institute are Halldóra Jónsdóttir, project manager of ISLEX, and Þórdís Úlfarsdóttir, editor in chief and systems manager of ISLEX. The Sorbonne is represented by Karl Gadelii, professor of linguistics in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, and the University of Gothenburg by Anna Helga Hannesdóttir, lecturer in Swedish, who will act in a special advisory capacity on the project. The grant amounts to €152,000 and runs for three years. It is intended to cover the costs of meetings between the collaborating parties and some of the salary costs on the lexicographic work. A part is intended for developing a course on lexicography at masters level at the University of Iceland and in the Scandinavian department at the Sorbonne. Credit for the effort put in on the application for the Erasmus+ grant goes to Guðrún Kristinsdóttir, project manager at the VFI, who is also in charge of this part of the dictionary project.
To mark the state visit of François Hollande, president of France, to Iceland on Friday, 16 October 2015, minister for education and culture Illugi Gunnarsson pledged a reciprocal contribution on behalf of the Icelandic government to fund the dictionary project in full. The project is scheduled to be completed in three years.
A directorial team has been appointed and work on the dictionary got under way in autumn. Prof Ásdís R. Magnúsdóttir is in charge of the French part of the project, with Rósa Elín Davíðsdóttir, doctoral student in lexicology, as project manager and Jean-Christophe Salaün as translator. Others involved in this part of the project are François Heenen, adjunct lecturer in French, and Hallfríður Helgadóttir, adjunct lecturer in Icelandic at the University of Gothenburg. Halldóra Jónsdóttir and Þórdís Úlfarsdóttir of ISLEX are project managers in charge of the Icelandic part of the project. The general manager of the Erasmus+ project is Guðrún Kristinsdóttir. The network held its first working meeting in Reykjavík on 8-9 October 2015.
Left to right: Halldóra Jónsdóttir, manager of the ISLEX project, Ásdís R. Magnúsdóttir, professor of French, Þórdís Úlfarsdóttir, ISLEX chief editor, Karl Gadelii, professor of linguistics, Rósa Elín Davíðsdóttir, doctoral student in lexicology and project manager of the Icelandic-French dictionary, Jean-Christophe Salaün, translator, Anna Helga Hannesdóttir, lecturer in Swedish at the University of Gothenburg, Magnús Sigurðsson, adjunct lecturer in German, Erla Erlendsdóttir, senior lecturer in Spanish, and Guðrún Kristinsdóttir, VFI project manager