Faroese split on alphabet expansion

Faroese are forced to spell the nation ‘Chile’ with the letter k when conducting an online search

Politicians on the Faroe Islands disagree on whether their alphabet should be expanded to include the letters c, q, w, x and z.

Henrik Old, a parliament member from the socialdemocratic party, Javnaðarflokkin, is behind a proposal that he contends will help the Faroese people keep pace with a more globalised world.

Old believes that the missing five letters from the alphabet results in some absurd language situations on a daily basis. For example, the lack of the letter c in the alphabet means that the Faroese are forced to spell the nation ‘Chile’ with the letter k when conducting an online search. The word ‘Celsius’ also offers problems.

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Too much of a hassle
But Høgni Hoydal, the head of the left-wing Tjóðveldi party, disagrees that the Faroese politicians need to meddle with the existing alphabet of the island, a self-governing country that has been part of the Danish Commonwealth since 1948.

“If the proposal is ratified by parliament, the Faroese language will be stuck in a strait-jacket that will be difficult to get out of,” Hoydal told Greenlandic newspaper, Sermitsiaq. “The Faroese are free to use the letters they want and there is no language police monitoring them.”

Hoydal went on to argue that he was satisfied with the state of the Faroese language and that any alphabet change proposals should be approved by the nation’s eleven-member language committee, Málráðið.

“The language committee has evaluated that adding the five letters to the alphabet will cause more trouble for people. There will be confusion about when to use k or c,” Hoydal said.

The Faroese alphabet, which derives from the Latin alphabet, currently consists of 29 letters.





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