Sletta[a] is to use a foreign word when speaking Icelandic. Although Icelanders generally try their best to keep foreign words out of the language, there are several instances where you are “allowed” to use a foreign word. Sletta does not cover words that have already become an accepted part of the language (such as pítsa). Note that while it is sometimes permissible to use them in spoken language, they are very much discouraged in written language. Slettur must also conjugate like any other word.
Slettur can sometimes be used:
  • In some informal situations.
  • When using technical vocabulary you don’t remember the Icelandic word for or when an Icelandic word hasn’t become popular enough yet.
  • When joking or using it as some sort of a cultural reference.
  • Hann er bisnissmaður í Ameríku. – Usually the word viðskipti is used for “business”, using the English word makes the sentence less formal and underlines that he’s some important business guy.
  • Geturðu downloadað einhverri mynd fyrir okkur? – Here the speaker could have opted for the better Icelandic translation of saying „að hlaða niður“, but opted for the less formal English word „að downloada“.
  • Við mötchuðum á Tinder. – Here, no Icelandic word has become widespread for what happens when two individuals get a “match” on the dating app Tinder. Therefore the sletta becomes „að matcha“.
  • Hann er bara ligeglad með það allt saman. – This is a Danish word. Danish used to be the most common source of foreign words until about 1960. Seeing Danish words used directly in Icelandic is not that common anymore, but may still be seen in some older people.