In Fréttir, News, VIMIUC

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the former President of Iceland, launched Lexía, a new Icelandic-French online dictionary, at a formal ceremony in Veröld today in front of a large audience which included the French Minister of Culture, the Prime Minister of Iceland, and the Rector of the University of Iceland. It is over 70 years since the last Icelandic-French dictionary was published.

Lexía is a collaboration between the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages (VFI) and the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies (ÁMI). Þórdís Úlfarsdóttir, a research specialist at ÁMI, edited the Icelandic part of the dictionary and Rósa Elín Davíðsdóttir, a lexicographer at VFI, edited the French part. The editorial team also included François Heenen, Jean-Christophe Salaün and Ólöf Pétursdóttir.

The origins of this dictionary date back to 1983, when the Icelandic and French governments signed an agreement committing to increased cultural and scientific collaboration between the two countries. One aspect of this collaboration was to be the compilation of French-Icelandic and Icelandic-French dictionaries. The French-Icelandic dictionary was published in 1995 and work on an Icelandic-French online dictionary began in the autumn of 2015 after the decision was made to publish it in a digital format based on the ISLEX database, a multilingual dictionary for Icelandic and other Nordic languages run by ÁMI. 

As a long-time champion of the importance of languages and linguistic study, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir has strongly supported this project from the outset. Vigdís was well-known in Iceland as a French teacher and a pioneer of language teaching on Icelandic television. She has also served as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Languages since 1998. 

Vigdís formally launched the dictionary at a ceremony in Veröld today. Other speakers at the event were Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, French Minister of Culture; Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland; Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland; Graham Paul, French ambassador to Iceland; Olivier Cadic, senator; Guðrún Nordal, director of the Árni Magnússon Institute; and Ásdís R. Magnúsdóttir, director of the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute.

The publication of Lexía is a significant milestone, since it is now over 70 years since the last Icelandic-French dictionary was published. Lexía contains around 50,000 entries as well as many usage examples and phrases translated to French. A new dictionary for modern users was sorely needed, so Lexía will be a real boon for many people, including Icelandic-speakers studying French, French-speaking students of Icelandic, translators, French language and culture enthusiasts and everyone in Iceland who communicates with French speakers. French is spoken by around 75 million people across the world, making it an important language in international affairs. The publication of Lexía is a vital contribution to improving communication and strengthening bonds of friendship between nations.

The dictionary will be free and accessible to all at

The following photographs were taken by Kristinn Ingvarsson. A video recording of the event can be found here.


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