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Creative Use of Language Matters Most

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Creative Use of Language Matters Most

Sigurður Pálsson, Illugi Gunnarsson.

Sigurður Pálsson, right, receives the award from Minister of Education Illugi Gunnarsson. Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

Writer Sigurður Pálsson was awarded the Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize on the Day of Icelandic Language yesterday, RÚV reports. The day is celebrated annually on the birthday of Jónas Hallgrímsson, the beloved Icelandic poet.

Sigurður, who was born in 1948 and who studied at the Sorbonne, has published numerous books of poetry and written many plays, in addition to his memoirs and translations of French literature. He received the Icelandic Literary Award for his first book of memoirs and the Gríma Award for one of his plays.

He told RÚV that what matters most is for the language to be used in a creative way. “That is essential, and by that I’m not just saying that everyone necessarily has to write; it’s no less important that people read. Reading is vastly underestimated as a creative activity, but it is through reading than meaning is created.”

In his acceptance speech, he spoke of the importance of language studies: “By learning other languages, we put ourselves in other people’s shoes and are able to understand them more deeply. Language studies do not only include a new vocabulary, but another way of thinking, another collection of memories, another view of the world, another cultural richness.”

He stresses the importance of giving our immigrants a voice by teaching them Icelandic and also by giving their children a chance to learn their parents’ language.

Ævar Þór Benediktsson, better known as Science Ævar, received the Icelandic Language Recognition for his educational programs for children and teenagers on radio and TV, and for encouraging creative thought and reading.

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