Lonely Planet Writer

Learn the language of the Faroe Islands with friendly locals online

One look at an image of the Faroe Islands will have you dreaming of a trip there, and if you want to prepare by brushing up on the local language, you won’t find any help from Google Translate. To make things easier for visitors eager to immerse themselves in the culture, the islands have launched their very own Faroe Islands Translate, where you can learn the language from friendly locals.

Drangarnir, the natural arch at Faroe Islands. Image by Posnov/Getty Images

The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 islands in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Norway. The gorgeous spot made headlines last year when they launched their own version of Google Street View – using sheep – in order to put their roads on the online map. Now, they are once again taking aim at Google with the new translation service.

While tourists heading to the islands will likely be happy to know that most people speak English, the local language has many charms that will be highlighted in the new service. The free online service will be done with the help of locals who will translate live by video. The locals will be everything from sheep farmers to social workers, according to the tourism board, meaning travellers will get a chance to find out just what people in the Faroe Islands are like before they visit. The videos will also be added to a database that will grow as more people use it.

Anyone interested in learning a phrase can head to the website and enter the words they want translated. From there, a volunteer will create a video with the translation, which will be sent back so the user can not only learn the words in Faroese, but see a local speaking the language.

With the success of their Street View campaign to Google – the tech giant sent Street View cameras to the islands for locals and tourists to use – the Faroes’ prime minister, Aksel V. Johannesen, also recorded an open letter to Google in a video message asking for the language to be added to the service. To give it a try, head to the Faroe Islands Translate website.