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Thread: Story of "Us" in the Germanic Languages

  1. #1
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    Story of "Us" in the Germanic Languages

    Explaining the linguistic evolution of the Germanic languages

    A nation is an organic thing, historically defined.
    A wave of passionate energy which unites past, present and future generations

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    Nice find! Uhm, I've never learnt Danish/Norsk/Swedish but I can understand written Northern Germanic language up to 40-50%. But spoken? Almost nothing. Some words seem so close to German but at the end they're false friends.

    Do untrained Swedish/Norwegian/Danish/Icelandic members understand written German texts? If 'yes', to how much extend!?
    Loyal to my hate

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leliana View Post
    Nice find! Uhm, I've never learnt Danish/Norsk/Swedish but I can understand written Northern Germanic language up to 40-50%. But spoken? Almost nothing. Some words seem so close to German but at the end they're false friends.
    A lot of modern Scandinavian words originally stem from Low German loanwords, incorporated into the vocabulary in the 16th-18th century. Some very common Norwegian words, would be 'spise' and 'snakke'. Taken from Low German 'spīse' (to eat), and 'snacken' (to speak). From what I understand, none of those words are in common usage in any modern German dialects, though.

    Also, this entire sentence in modern Norwegian is supposedly made up of Low German loanwords (with the exception of 'var' (was) and 'og' (and):

    Skredderen tenkte at trųya passet fortreffelig, men kunden klaget og mente at plagget var kort og tųyet simpelt og grovt. (The tailor thought the sweater fitted splendidly, but the customer complained and thought that the garment was short and the fabric simple and crude.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Leliana View Post
    Do untrained Swedish/Norwegian/Danish/Icelandic members understand written German texts? If 'yes', to how much extend!?
    I think they could guess correctly on a lot of individual words, if given in a context. But understanding a full written sentence with no pre-existing knowledge, I think would be very difficult. And certainly, understanding spoken German would be even more difficult. But after some experience with the language, you kind of understand the "system" of the differences between German and Scandinavian, which makes it easier to guess correctly on some words which have common cognates in one's own language.

    For example:
    German 'zug' - Norwegian 'tog'
    German 'gabel' - Norw. 'gaffel'
    German 'dach' - Norw. 'tak'

    Und so weiter...
    A nation is an organic thing, historically defined.
    A wave of passionate energy which unites past, present and future generations

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    I guess I might be a bit biased because I studied some German however I remember that when I started it I could understand some of the written language (some similar, contextual words) and it came easier to me than other languages. Scandinavian languages took in many loan words from Low German but they're more simplified. The grammar, articles and word order of the German takes some getting used to, probably for English speakers especially. I can understand North Germanic languages best of course but they're more similar with each other (except Icelandic, but I can understand some contextual words especially in written). In spoken form it takes some getting used to the local pronunciation.

    Just recently I read about this hypothetical scenario about Nordics, a little funny:

    Question: A Finn, a Swede, a Dane, a Norwegian, and an Icelander are shipwrecked on an island. Who would be the best and worst at communicating?

    Answer: Everybody would speak English.

    At some point, they would get tired of speaking English, so they would switch to their respective Scandinavian languages.

    The Dane would find it hyggeligt and understand almost everything, but not being understood so well in return would feel a bit frustrated.

    The Icelander would try his best with his school Danish. The Norwegian could understand his Icelandic a bit, too.

    There would be some misunderstandings, but eventually they could mostly understand each other.

    Except for the Finn.

    The Finn would be having a hard time trying to understand the others, but would definitely laugh when everybody else would be laughing, just to not be excluded.

    Sometimes the Finn would try to say something, and the others would make fun of his awkward Moomin Swedish. (In a friendly way, of course.)

    After a while the Finn, a bit discouraged, would open a bottle of beer.

    And another one.

    After a couple of beers his Swedish would be almost perfect.

    At the end of the evening he would be happily singing aloud in Swedish.

    The next day they would probably think that was enough and switch back to English.
    I guess it could be true to some degree (some people might have another perspective). Finns, well they speak a non-Indo-European language so it's not even the same language tree. Fennoswedes are a different category of course, some Finns themselves learn Swedish. The Icelandics are the most different from the Nordics because they experienced a prolonged period of linguistic isolation. Their language is closer to the Old Norse. But the Icelanders are known to learn Danish in school, a few learn Norwegian. In written form, Norway's standard Bokmål was initially based on written Danish. But in spoken form, Danish is different from Norwegian and in this regard Norwegian is closer to Swedish. Western Norwegian dialects and Nynorsk tend to be closer to Icelandic so they would probably understand Icelandic better than a Dane would. Some people say that Norwegians and Swedes communicate best in general (written and spoken). Danish may be easy to read but people sometimes say it's not a language but a throat disease. Some people have told me it's more difficult to learn Danish than other Scandinavian languages because of the pronunciation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blod og Jord View Post
    Some people say that Norwegians and Swedes communicate best in general (written and spoken).
    I think so, but the intelligibility isn't shared 50/50. Most Norwegians can understand Swedish quite well, while only the Swedes from the border regions to Norway manage to understand Norwegian without much trouble. Norwegians who live in Stockholm or Malmö, for example, would have to either resort to English or "Norswedian" if they are to be understood by everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blod og Jord View Post
    Danish may be easy to read but people sometimes say it's not a language but a throat disease.
    I think Danish sounds charming. It fits the laid-back and down-to-earth mentality that I associate with the Danes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blod og Jord View Post
    Some people have told me it's more difficult to learn Danish than other Scandinavian languages because of the pronunciation.
    Apparently, even the Danes find it more difficult to learn Danish. A study made by the 'Center for Child Language' in Odense concluded that Swedish children knew about 130 words by the time they were 15 months old, while Danish children knew about 80 words by the same age. It is believed to have a connection with the different vowel-sounds in a language, which Danish have a relatively high number of.

    Makes me think of this classic sketch...

    A nation is an organic thing, historically defined.
    A wave of passionate energy which unites past, present and future generations

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    Few comments: Blod og Jord.

    Finland is actually bilingual country just like Canada. Many doesn't know that. That has been written in constitution of Finland at 1917 then Finland became Independent. Great success of Swedish speaking Finns as share of us had already dropped from 20% to 10% (''thanks'' to Russians). So nationalist Finns (like True Finns) can not easily get that changed. All Finns studies Swedish at school between classes 5 to 9 and if one continues to upper secondary school (= gymnasium)...also those 3 extra classes. Finnish Swedes (like me) ... we opposite study Finnish same ways.

    But I admit ... average blue collar Finns skills in Swedish are pretty bad/low. Academic people? Bit different. They can understand Swedish someway ... speaking it? Worse.

    Anyway ... I have though that our Swedish is exactly pretty clear (but the accent is not the most beautiful one). Žoreišar already said that he understand it fully (of course; living in Sweden). But I would like to ask the rest of you ... Norwegians and Danes here ... can you understand her speak (woman on the left)? How much? And are there any differences versus those two on the right (Swedes)?


    BTW: Lately some Swedish guys have even thanked my Swedish (accent) ... I guess they needs to be very pissed off with all their ''kebab-swedish'' (Rinkebysvenska, Rosengårdssvenska etc.)


    PS: I love these Scandinavian cartoons ... and they shorten the differences between Finns vs Scandinavians pretty well. Language is only one matter.


    In sauna







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