Learning a language in the field: Faroe...what?
Taking a summer course in Faroese at the University of the Faroe Islands.
This Nordic language is spoken by about 50.000 people in the middle of the North Atlantic, where not only the weather is quite exotic.
One of the rare possibilities in the world to learn the West Nordic language Faroese is to attend a summer course at the University of the Faroe Islands in Tórshavn. Faroese is spoken only by a few people, mostly on the Faroes, a group of 18 islands that are located roughly between Iceland, Norway and Scotland. Since there are so few speakers of Faroese and the islands are quite small, the language and the archipelago are not necessarily common knowledge to the public in Germany. Actually, I often got astonished questions like “Faroe...what are you learning?“, when I told people about my plans for the summer 2011.
In contrast to, for example Icelandic, the language “Fnroysk” is not even taught at any German-speaking university and Faroese bilingual dictionaries worthy of mention are by now available in English, Danish and Icelandic only, but not in German. If you, nevertheless, are interested in learning this “exotic“ language, be it your linguistic interest, the wish to come in contact with locals more easily or the will to understand the song texts by the popular Faroese Viking metal band Týr, or even read the old ballads, you have to go into the field and attend a 10 ECTS course at the small and only university on the archipelago itself.
The study fee required summer programme (ask about Faroese and German scholarships!) is arranged at irregular intervals in the autonomous nation within the Kingdom of Denmark, just about two hours flight or 30 hours by ferry away from the European continent. The summer course takes place in the 16.000 inhabitants-capital of Tórshavn where the roughly 35 students from all over the world are accommodated in host families.
During the three weeks programme there are arrangements every day: language classes on two different levels supplemented by general lectures on a wide range of topics related to the Faroes, including the subjects geology, history, literature, politics, film, music and art. The target audience for the programme is assembled by students and academics of any discipline. Attendants with a background in Scandinavian Studies are placed in the advanced language course thanks to the affinity ofFaroese to the other Scandinavian languages, especially to Icelandic and Old Norse.