Icelandic Heritage in North America

Edited by Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Höskuldur Thráinsson, and Úlfar Bragason
Categories: Literature & Language Studies, Linguistics, Language & Translation Studies, Social Sciences, Immigration, Emigration & Transnationalism
Publisher: University of Manitoba Press
Paperback : 9781772840216, 328 pages, April 2023
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781772840223, 328 pages, April 2023
Ebook (PDF) : 9781772840230, 328 pages, April 2023
Hardcover : 9781772840247, 328 pages, April 2023

Table of contents

Foreward by Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Eliza Reid, President and First Lady of Iceland




  1. Moving a language between continents: Icelandic language communities 1870-1914
  2. Icelanders and America: What is it to be Vestur-Íslendingur?
  3. Acculturation on their own terms: The social networks of political radicals among Icelandic immigrants in Canada in the early twentieth century
  4. The Barnason brothers in Nebraska: Two pioneer farmers
  5. Ralph E. Halldorson and the Great War
  6. Icelandic immigrants, modernity, and Winnipeg in Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran’s “Hopes”
  7. Another emigrant ship crossing the Atlantic: The poetics of migration in the poetry of Undína and Stephan G. Stephansson
  8. The young Icelander grows up: Nationalism and ethnic identity in Jóhann Magnús Bjarnason’s life and work
  9. Icelandic-Canadian oral lore: New life in a new land and how the women's tales may shed light on the classification of the Edda poems
  10. Raven tracks across the Prairies: Icelandic immigration and manuscript culture in the Canadian West
  11. World meanings in North American Icelandic: More North American or more Icelandic?
  12. Understanding complex sentences in a heritage language
  13. "And the dog is sleeping too": The use of the progressive in North American Icelandic
  14. Language and Identity: The case of North American Icelandic
  15. The Heritage Language Project: Impact and implications


A celebration of cultural inheritance and the evolution of language.


Mapping the language, literature, and history of Icelandic immigrants and their descendants, this collection, translated and expanded for English-speaking audiences, delivers a comprehensive overview of Icelandic linguistic and cultural heritage in North America. Drawn from the findings of a three-year study involving over two hundred participants from Manitoba, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and the Pacific West Coast, Icelandic Heritage in North America reveals the durability and versatility of the Icelandic language.


Editors Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir, Höskuldur Thráinsson, and Úlfar Bragason bring together a range of interdisciplinary scholarship to investigate the endurance of the “Western Icelander.” Chapters delve into the literary works of Icelandic immigrant writers and interpret archival letters, newspapers, and journal entries to provide both qualitative and quantitative linguistic analyses and to mark significant cultural shifts between early settlement and today.


Icelandic Heritage in North America offers an in-depth examination of Icelandic immigrant identity, linguistic evolution, and legacy.