Iceland’s banking system has collapsed, its economy is in turmoil and its volcano has blotted the sky with ash. As a result, things have never looked better for the small cadre of Icelandic translators who render the North Germanic tongue of 320,000 island-dwellers into something the rest of the world can understand.
Among the assignments: bankruptcy cases, criminal probes, fraud suits and, earlier this month, a 2,000-plus-page report on the banking mess—solid gold for a translator—produced by a “truth committee” of the Alþingi (that’s parliament).
“A big uptick for me,” says Daniel Teague, an American translator who has lived in Reykjavík for decades.
“I don’t think I ever did bankruptcy before,” says Keneva Kunz, a Canadian-born translator working in Iceland for more than 20 years. “In the last year and a half, I don’t think I’ve done anything else.”