This evening I was taking a cab, and when trying to deal with directions and then again with payment, I realized from the few phrases we exchanged that the driver was not Icelandic. Last week at the bakery, I was served by a woman who was also newly arrived to Iceland, and a few days ago at the Asian grocery store I completed my transaction to the singsong sounds of a Thai-flavored "takk fyrir".
Some people might think that Icelandic is dying, since so small a country speaks the language, but the past week is only a sample of what seems to be happening with increasing frequency here. Reykjavik is turning Manhattan, all Yugoslavian taxi drivers and Philippine shopkeepers. There are Polish people cleaning the office, Thai groceries and restaurants all over town, and tiny populations of other cultures everywhere between. Most seem to be making at least some efforts to speak Icelandic, even if it's the most rudimentary Krua Thai versions of calling out order numbers (no "sixty five" for one person working there, but just "six five").
It's a weird feeling to have two people with our only common language being this obscure tongue, but somehow in the midst of all our other native accents, we're able to find enough common ground to get things done, to pay for the cab, find our way home, ask for a shopping bag, or where the wasabi peas are. Doesn't sound like a dying language to me.