“An old tongue’s new tricks”

The Economist: The strange reinvention of Icelandic. “A language both ancient and modern.”

“In perhaps their most famous example of purist creativity, when a word for computer was needed in the 1960s, the planners coined tölva, combining tala (“number”) and völva, an old word for prophetess. When doctors started talking about AIDS using the English acronym rather than its long, literal Icelandic translation, heilkenni áunnins ónæmisbrests [spoken], the committee coined two shorter alternatives: alnæmi [spoken], something like “all-susceptibility”, and eyðni, which sounds like the English term, but comes from the Icelandic eyða, meaning “to destroy”. When Icelanders started saying “podcast”, the council quickly responded with hlaðvarp [spoken], from roots meaning “charge” (squint and you can see hlaða as a distant cousin to “load”) and “throw”.”