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Thread: English: Relationship to Danish

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    English: Relationship to Danish

    I first heard Danish as an American soldier stationed in Germany, on leave, and traveling north by train. When the train left Hamburg Altona, I was surprised to hear many people speaking English. It didn't take long to realize that, although it sounded like English, it was not. It was Danish.

    Since then, and not only because of that experience, I became convinced that Danish is, in a sense, an intermediate language between German and English -- that English developed more from Danish than directly from German. I am not enough of a linguist nor historian to know whether or not this is nonsense. I can certainly cite examples of phrases in Danish that sound amazingly like their equivalents in English, and very little like German. There is also the idea that German has three grammatical Genders that permeate the language, Danish has two, and English (arguably) has one.

    When I was comfortable in this idea, I bought a book on learning Danish, and was stunned to find how the definite article was handled when there was no descriptive adjective to worry about -- that "the" was essentially hung on the end of the noun. Danish was suddenly an agglutinative language like Hungarian, which is nowhere on the journey from German to English.

    My question is, can anyone shed light on this idea for me? How did this feature become a fixture in Danish that did not arrive from German and was not communicated to English. Is it just one of those things that has no explanation other than "that's the way it is", or is there something to know about how these three languages developed that explains what I see as a deviation from a path. Perhaps there are all kinds of similarly stunning grammatical differences between Danish and the other two, and I'm just not aware of them.
    Last edited by srk; 29th November 2012 at 1:41 AM.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Hi there, srk.

    I have a feeling this might be moved into the Etymology & History of Languages section but maybe not since your question was about the definite article in Danish.
    First things first, we have to clear up the myth that English is derived from German. It's a common mistake for people to think that and I believe that has roots in the fact that the name of the language from which all of these languages derive is called (Proto-)Germanic. This language is not "German" as we know it today, but a much much older language that was spoken by the Germanic people from about 500BC well into the AD region. Germanic then split as these people migrated westward and northward (I'll ignore the eastern branch for this discussion) and then we have West Germanic and North Germanic. West Germanic then split even further as these people migrated and split and over time the languages changed. The same happened for North Germanic languages.

    English, Dutch, German (and some others) all belong to the West Germanic branch of languages and Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian (etc.) all belong to the North Germanic branch. So, naturally, they're closely related and we can see similarities for a bunch of features across all member groups. After the first West Germanic speakers sailed over to England and that language became what we know today as Old English, they lived there for a couple of hundred years before the Vikings sailed over and brought their North Germanic language to our shores. They stayed and had a great influence on the development of English and many features we can attribute to the Vikings' presence in England. This, does not imply that English came from any form of Danish, but rather that Danish had an impact on English (just like how Anglo-French completely transformed English via borrowing words - well over 60% of our vocabulary is from (Anglo-)French).

    The first attested language that we know that North Germanic became is Old Norse, and it is in Old Norse that this system of putting definite articles onto the end of nouns first arises. Then, when Old Norse split into East/West Norse, all the daughter languages have elements of this feature. By the time this innovation started, the people who spoke the languages which then became German and English were already completely separated from this group, so that's why German and English doesn't have this feature (because it developed out of a North Germanic language, not a West Germanic one).

    Does that help?

    It might be worth having a look at this image to get a better idea. If you imagine as you move from top to bottom, that represents time passed, then when you hit "Northern", that's when that feature evolved. That's why English and German don't have this feature and also explains a little bit about how these languages came about.
    Last edited by Alxmrphi; 29th November 2012 at 1:54 AM.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    It helps on first reading, and I'm sure it will help much more after I've digested it. Thanks.

    I'm sorry to have started my thread in the wrong place.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    I added in a link to a picture which basically should make it quite clear how to visualise the relationship between them all.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    My guess (just a guess) is that what's now thought of as a definite article added to the end was once simply part of a system of definite and indefinite inflexions. It would then make sense for people to decide at some point that there was no need for a definite artlcle before a word which already had a definite ending.

    It occurred to me recently that German might also have remnants of such a system. You see it in the adjective endings, at least in the nominative case:

    • indefinite: ein kleines Haus (a small house)
    • definite: das kleine Haus (the small house)

    The treatment of the adjective seems to me to be exactly the same as in Danish and Norwegian: for the indefinite form, a gender ending is added (klein, kleine, kleines), but for the definite form, an -e is used instead.

    If anyone can shed light on this aspect I'd be interested.
    Last edited by timtfj; 29th November 2012 at 2:19 AM. Reason: layout problem

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    The treatment of the adjective seems to me to be exactly the same as in Danish and Norwegian: for the indefinite form, a gender ending is added (klein, kleine, kleines), but for the definite form, an -e is used instead.
    Good thought process!

    There is an article which still exists in Icelandic called hinn, which was present in Old Norse. Given the flexibility with which words could move around, it was often that the noun would come first and the article would follow. This is hypothesised to have occurred with such frequency that it underwent a process that linguists call grammaticalisation, which is when objects are reanalysed and generally bind together or change in form somehow. This happened in all sorts of places in Icelandic, creating new fricatives at the end of certain declensions because inversion happened so frequently (the ð in þú sérð actually came about by this same process sérþú -> sérð).

    So, it went like this: hest hinn -> hest-inn -> hest-en and then it was eventually reanalysed that this is a basic element of how you make a noun definite and generalised across all nouns. The neuter counterpart to hinn was hitt and this is were -et comes from: hus hitt -> hus-itt -> hus-et.
    Last edited by Alxmrphi; 29th November 2012 at 2:50 AM.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by timtfj View Post
    My guess (just a guess) is that what's now thought of as a definite article added to the end was once simply part of a system of definite and indefinite inflexions. It would then make sense for people to decide at some point that there was no need for a definite artlcle before a word which already had a definite ending.

    It occurred to me recently that German might also have remnants of such a system. You see it in the adjective endings, at least in the nominative case:

    • indefinite: ein kleines Haus (a small house)
    • definite: das kleine Haus (the small house)

    The treatment of the adjective seems to me to be exactly the same as in Danish and Norwegian: for the indefinite form, a gender ending is added (klein, kleine, kleines), but for the definite form, an -e is used instead.

    If anyone can shed light on this aspect I'd be interested.
    The difference between a weak (indefinite) declension and a strong (definite) declension of adjectives doesn't have anything to do with the Scandinavian definite noun endings. Strong and weak adjectival declension is something all Germanic languages have in common (except for English and perhaps Afrikaans) so it is a feature that is older than the Scandinavian definite noun endings. The two features developed independently.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    The volume of your response and how quickly it came says that you’ve told this story often. What’s surprising is that you’re able to tell it again without sounding impatient at my ignorance.

    This is just to let you know that I’m glad for the information. I have to look at it a lot harder before I can respond in a way that lets you know I really appreciate what you’ve told me.

    timtfj’s comparison between adjectives preceded by definite and indefinite articles in German and Danish definite and indefinite endings lit a light for me that I’d like to keep lit somehow in spite of myšlenka’s cold water. That’s just one of many things I’ll think about before responding again. Alxmrphi’s procedural formula for getting from hinn to -en and hitt to -et will stick with me.

    I suppose I’m blind to the endings that Dan2 points out partly because I think they have counterparts in all of (the few) languages I’m familiar with, whereas a definite ending does not, and partly because people always miss the obvious in their native language.

    Thank you all. (I didn’t miss the relationship tree even though it was added to Alxmrphi’s first post.)
    Last edited by srk; 29th November 2012 at 4:12 AM.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by srk View Post
    There is also the idea that German has three grammatical Genders that permeate the language, Danish has two, and English (arguably) has one.

    Danish was suddenly an agglutinative language like Hungarian, which is nowhere on the journey from German to English.
    Hi!

    Danish, nor any of the Scandinavian languages are agglutinative - they are syntactic language. English is also a syntactic language, but not to the extent the other Germanic languages are. The evidence lies in words like "someone", "summertime" and "into". A trait in syntactic languages is that they can make compounds, but not string together sentences into single words.

    A feature in Scandinavian (especially in dialects) is that one syllable words in Neuter often does not take an ending (in indefinite). English has a similar feature in such words as sheep, salmon, deer etc., and although this is often regarded as a grammatical anomaly, it can just as well be regarded as a grammatical "gender". However, it is important to remember that the word "gender" does not mean "sex" (physical gender); it simply means "different". With that in mind - if we can disregard the notion that grammatical gender needs to be the old Latin M, F and N - it can be said that English actually has a two gender system.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by srk View Post
    I'm sorry to have started my thread in the wrong place.
    Don't worry! I'm conferring with the EHL mods if they feel non-Scandinavian speakers may have something to add, in which case they'll probably move it. If not, it can stay here.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    A feature in Scandinavian (especially in dialects) is that one syllable words in Neuter often does not take an ending (in indefinite). English has a similar feature in such words as sheep, salmon, deer etc., and although this is often regarded as a grammatical anomaly, it can just as well be regarded as a grammatical "gender". However, it is important to remember that the word "gender" does not mean "sex" (physical gender); it simply means "different". With that in mind - if we can disregard the notion that grammatical gender needs to be the old Latin M, F and N - it can be said that English actually has a two gender system.
    It's a side-point in this thread but claiming that English has a two gender system sounds a little far-fetched to me. The English irregular plurals should be considered grammatical anomalies or accidents of history because they are unproductive. I would even go so far as to claim that English doesn't even have one grammatical gender because you need at least two genders (or noun classes if you prefer) for the grammatical category to exist in a speaker's mind.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    I read an interesting article yesterday (http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/ir...k-7055551.html, in Norwegian) about a theory that English derives directly from the Scandinavian languages and not their west-Germanic counterpart. It’s a theory by linguistics Jan Terje Faarlund (University in Oslo) and Joseph Emmonds (a guest professor from Palacky University).

    Points made in the article:

    Norwegians (Scandinavians) learn English quite easily. It goes beyond similar looking words. Mistakes common for other foreign learners are avoided because the grammar is very similar because the structure base in the Scandinavian languages and English is alike.

    The two professors say they can prove that English in reality is derived from the Scandinavian language and as such belong to the north-Germanic language group. This goes against the status quo that states that English derives from old-English (Anglo-Saxon). Old English is the Language spoken in Britain. It’s a west-Germanic language that was bought from North Germany and South Jylland. The professors believe that modern English directly derives from the Scandinavian languages spoken by the Danes and Norwegians that settled and stayed there for many years before the French speaking Normans came in 1066.

    Old English and modern English are two very different languages. The professors believe old English died out while Scandinavian, strongly influenced by old English, survived. The relationship between the British and the Scandinavians overall where hostile, but the descendants from the Vikings got control over much land in the west and north, and Nordic chieftains ruled for haft a century. The Nordic speaking population did not change their own tongue and continued to speak their own languages.

    In the time period before the Normans arrived, the living conditions where bad and the two people groups (British and Nordic) melted together. This also meant that their languages changed and middle-English came to be. This new language had a great many Scandinavian words; like took, knife, cut and steak. It’s interesting to note that the most common thing when languages merge does not happen here. It’s more common to take in use loan words – words and phrases for new things. This is not the case here. It is common, every day words that derives from the Scandinavian languages. Like: anger, awe, bag, band, big, birth, both, bull, cake, call, cast, cosy, cross, die, dirt, dream, egg, fellow, flat, gain. Scientists believe that old English had their own words for most of these.

    It is also common for a language to keep its own grammar when connecting with another language. This did not happen. In England old Germanic words and morphemes where put aside while their Scandinavian counterparts were taken into use, and live on in Modern English. The two professors also believe that the way sentences is build derives from Scandinavian and not West-Germanic. It is not common to borrow syntax and structure. The syntax and structure of English has little in common with Old-English. One example of this: object after verb: I have just read the book. West-Germanic languages (including old English) will put the verb at the end the sentence.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    I read an interesting article yesterday (http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/ir...k-7055551.html, in Norwegian) about a theory that English derives directly from the Scandinavian languages and not their west-Germanic counterpart. It’s a theory by linguistics Jan Terje Faarlund (University in Oslo) and Joseph Emmonds (a guest professor from Palacky University).
    I saw that article make the news yesterday, and was thinking about mentioning it as an anecdotal point.
    In reality though, it's the biggest pile of nonsense I've ever seen. They offer nothing academic and at best and make outlandish claims while there is a whole host of evidence that goes against them. This happens now and then and more often than not it's just to get into the news cycle for the day. The languages did merge in some respects (i.e. English borrowing the plural pronouns) and the third person [s] is said to have its roots in the -as passive construction from North Germanic, but we just see too much linguistic diversity that has so many differences that exist in the major kingdoms in Old English to take something that has passed through Norse to be the root language of English.

    The diversity of English from Kent to Northumbria would not have occurred if it wasn't a process of slowly-diverging local dialects on the continent that had a few hundred years to change. If you have a group of North Germanic speakers that land in a place and then spread out, there would be a lot more uniformity in structure than the evidence shows us. Old English has a LOT of things that you see in Dutch and German that aren't typical of North Germanic. It just doesn't add up, at all. I am still half-convinced it's an article in jest. I saw about a dozen linguists post links to articles on different sites that talked about the story with commons such as, "Oh, right." / "Well, glad they cleared that up." / "Well whaddaya know?" Nobody is taking it seriously from what I can see.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by myšlenka View Post
    It's a side-point in this thread but claiming that English has a two gender system sounds a little far-fetched to me. The English irregular plurals should be considered grammatical anomalies or accidents of history because they are unproductive. I would even go so far as to claim that English doesn't even have one grammatical gender because you need at least two genders (or noun classes if you prefer) for the grammatical category to exist in a speaker's mind.
    Hi Myslenka,

    It is a little far-fetched, and I am not proposing we go ahead and introduce grammatical genders in English! I do however find it interesting that there is a group of nouns that take a different, although corresponding pattern in plural. Perhaps it all boils down to how we look at grammatical gender, and perhaps I better avoid the word "gender" (although the word actually means "sort" or "class"), and consider noun classes (as you say) instead. Traditionally, English has been regarded as having no grammatical gender, since it has no M/F/N or C/N distinction, but if we look at other languages, a noun class can be much more than that.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    Hi Myslenka,

    It is a little far-fetched, and I am not proposing we go ahead and introduce grammatical genders in English! I do however find it interesting that there is a group of nouns that take a different, although corresponding pattern in plural. Perhaps it all boils down to how we look at grammatical gender, and perhaps I better avoid the word "gender" (although the word actually means "sort" or "class"), and consider noun classes (as you say) instead. Traditionally, English has been regarded as having no grammatical gender, since it has no M/F/N or C/N distinction, but if we look at other languages, a noun class can be much more than that.
    Hi NorwegianNYC,
    yes I agree. The Indo-European M/F/N distinction is unfit for describing noun classes cross-linguistically. Whatever the basis for noun class distinction may be, the key point is productivity. I suspect that speakers of English would add an -s when asked to give the plural of new lexical items because that's the productive way of forming plurals in English.
    I can easily come up with a bunch of verbs (in my dialect) where a long -i- in the stem changes to -ei- in the past tense (skrive, bli, drive, skrike, snike, svi, gni, bite, hive, slite, rive....) but I wouldn't suggest that this class should be considered regular, in spite of corresponding patterns.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Alxmrphi and Dan2:

    I think you’ve pretty much set me straight. However, Dan2, talking about Proto Germanic as a “hypothesized earlier language”, together with the article from Aftenposten summarized by vestfoldlilja, worry me. But I’m too old to make a success out of getting off my butt and making an exploration of these ideas myself. I’m going to have to trust you two. (Don’t let me down.) I hope that the hypothetical nature of Proto Germanic is that no one knows what it looked like, not whether or not such a language existed at all.

    Alxmrphi:

    I didn’t quite think of current-day German as an immutable seed language spreading north and west and being modified by people who were initially speechless. I imagined it, instead, to be the least altered from some starting point, and I gather from you that I was wrong about that as well. The geography helped my myth along. I also hear you when you say that you consider that the recent assertions about English coming directly from Scandinavian languages are so much snake oil.

    Regarding,

    “This does not imply that English came from any form of Danish, but rather that Danish had an impact on English (just like how Anglo-French completely transformed English via borrowing words - well over 60% of our vocabulary is from (Anglo-French).”:

    If “had impact” is the better descriptor than “came from”, the result is nonetheless dramatic in terms of structure as well as vocabulary. I have the idea that the influence of French on English, while extensive, is mainly at the high-blown end of the vocabulary — that when we’re in real trouble, we holler “help”, not “assistance”. (Of course, that’s someone else’s smart remark. I just don’t have an attribution.) I still have the idea that the influence of Nordic languages is more fundamental.

    Thinking about your description of how “hesten” and “huset” developed leads me to wonder if the reason these forms did not contribute to the impact of Nordic languages on English, was because they were hard to hear and make sense of if you were listening in a language that already had separated definite articles preceding their nouns. The forms were a surprise to me precisely because I hadn’t really heard them in all the listening that preceded my seeing them in writing.

    Dan2:

    I was already aware of the lack of verb conjugation as a remarkable feature of Danish grammar. However, when I started the thread, I was ready to call this evidence of its closeness to English, as there is much less difference between English verb forms marking person than there is in German. I didn’t make this argument, because I would have had to explain the residual differences in English, particularly in the verb “to be”, and I certainly don’t know how to do that. At times, I’ve thought that this feature of Danish is so startling that the explanation must be that at some point it was legislated, as new orthographies are.

    You said that “English is in some ways closer to German (and even more so to Dutch) and in some ways closer to the Scandinavian languages”. Because you gave me no other examples of how the former is true, I took your illustration of lack of gender marking in the predicate adjective in German as an intended example. I can’t see that as evidence, because there isn’t any gender marking of adjectives in English. You can clear that up just by saying that I’m putting words in your mouth, but I would have liked to have examples.

    timtfj:

    After all, I can’t see your example of adjective declension in German as a remnant of a more extensive system. It seems to me to be rather an effort to touch up a deficient system — to identify noun gender where the indefinite article is of no help, rather than dropping an ending where none is needed. In fact, this was the mnemonic given to me for coming to terms with descriptive adjectives when I was taught German. If this misses the point, please say so.

    I’ll take myšlenka’s word that this feature developed independently from that of definite noun endings.

    myšlenka:

    “The English irregular plurals should be considered grammatical anomalies or accidents of history because they are unproductive.” I puzzled over the word “unproductive” in your sentence, wondering whether it was a term that had special meaning in linguistics rather than an ordinary use of the word. I decided on the latter — that you are saying that it is not a useful or helpful exercise to consider irregular plurals as forming an additional gender. Is that right or wrong?

    At least, I look at the terms “masculine, feminine”, and “neuter” as grammatical labels in this way. I think it is undeniable that the terms began based on an idea of “which sex” or “the lack of either”, but that it is unproductive to think of them as other than mere labels in sorting out and correctly handling the entirety of nouns. (If there was ever an unhelpful term for labeling grammatical gender, I think it has to be the word “common” for the common gender in Danish. In what sense are the common nouns common?)


    NorwegianNYC:

    It is difficult for me to follow a lot of what you say. (I’m not trying to be rude. I just need some clarification.) I don’t know whether you are saying Scandinavian languages are or are not agglutinative. It sounds at first that you are saying they are not — that they are “syntactical” instead — but agglutination, where it occurs, is certainly part of syntax.

    I don’t have any illusions about Danish being agglutinative to the extent that Hungarian is. It was a beginning impression when I started to learn and was based on the earliest instruction in the text I was using. It was not an impression that was supported as I read further. It may have been pointless of me to talk about it in that way at all in this thread. I could just as well have said that this feature of Danish was surprising to me and left it at that.

    I don’t understand what you’re saying about “sheep, salmon” and “deer”. These do not form their plural by adding “s”, but I don’t know what this has to do with noun gender. I see gender as a sorting mechanism for deciding how nouns and their modifiers are to be handled grammatically, most importantly with respect to case. Are you saying that, because “the plural” can be thought of as separate gender because of its distinctive handling with regard to case — that nouns not using final “s” in the plural should belong to still another gender? If you want to regard “salmon” and “horse” as having different grammatical gender because of how they form their plural, what about nouns that are uncountable like “jewelry”? You’d have to add many more genders to German if your criterion is the way in which plurals are formed.



    vestfoldlilja:

    Thanks for the link to the article and your summary. When I read them, I thought I was going to be a hero after all for starting this thread. (I know you will have read Alxmrphi’s opinion.)

    Wilma_Sweden:

    Thanks for protecting me as long as you could.

    Everyone:

    I know you aren’t particularly looking for a response from me. I can tell when the dope who started the thread (that would be me) has been elbowed aside so that the experts can take sides and talk to one another. (I really have no problem with that.)

    In my initial post, I meant to let you know that I am at least smart enough to realize that Danish is closely related to other Nordic languages. I just never got around to turning that corner. I know that Danes and Norwegians understand one another with no difficulty. Moreover, years ago, I would try samples of the little Danish I knew on Swedes I worked with, would be understood, and would mostly understand their responses. Because Danish is the only Scandinavian language I have any real experience with, it is the language I had to talk about.

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    Re: English: Relationship to Danish

    Wow, what a post! I'll try and be as concise as I can be to the points you directed my way.

    I hope that the hypothetical nature of Proto Germanic is that no one knows what it looked like, not whether or not such a language existed at all.
    Exactly! We know it existed but we don't have any physical evidence of what it looked like. There are very solid principles of linguistic reconstruction, tweaked and formed by a lot of other anecdotal evidence that has led to a pretty academically-sound (but not beyond complete questionability) understanding of what it actually looked like. Don't let the word 'hypothesised' make it seem as if it's a wishy-washy concept. We just have to call it that because it comes from linguistic reasoning rather than real evidence.

    If “had impact” is the better descriptor than “came from”, the result is nonetheless dramatic in terms of structure as well as vocabulary. I have the idea that the influence of French on English, while extensive, is mainly at the high-blown end of the vocabulary — that when we’re in real trouble, we holler “help”, not “assistance”. (Of course, that’s someone else’s smart remark. I just don’t have an attribution.) I still have the idea that the influence of Nordic languages is more fundamental.
    I'd say you're completely on the ball with that remark.

    Thinking about your description of how “hesten” and “huset” developed leads me to wonder if the reason these forms did not contribute to the impact of Nordic languages on English, was because they were hard to hear and make sense of if you were listening in a language that already had separated definite articles preceding their nouns. The forms were a surprise to me precisely because I hadn’t really heard them in all the listening that preceded my seeing them in writing.
    It'd be great if we could know the answers as to why things happen in historical language development. All we know for certain is that observable changes take place, and we can theorise what the motivations were for such changes but sometimes things just happen and it seems pretty random. Definiteness marking is certainly a very salient feature and I don't think the impact was that great to warrant such a switch-over. The structural adaptions like in the pronominal system are a sign that these languages were deeply interconnected, and that has led some people to hypothesise that English creolised in this environment (many people don't think the interaction went that deep, though). While the case is stable that "Viking Scandinavian" changed English as we know it today, and not that it replaced it - there will always be elements that English didn't take from it - and this could just be one of them.

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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    To answer your question, briefly, Srk: No, Danish does not really sound anything like English -- it may have certain features that make it sound similar to English, especially to a person not familiar with Scandinavian languages. It is a Germanic language, so there definitely are some similarities, but not that many. The answer to your second question would be: no, Danish is not an intermediate language between German and English. The rest was really thoroughly explained by all the contributors.

    Danish is also not an agglutinative language, only the definite forms of nouns are created this way. Germanic languages do not really come from German, but rather are related to German.
    Last edited by LilianaB; 3rd December 2012 at 12:08 PM.

  19. #19
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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Quote Originally Posted by srk View Post
    ... I don’t know whether you are saying Scandinavian languages are or are not agglutinative. It sounds at first that you are saying they are not — that they are “syntactical” instead — but agglutination, where it occurs, is certainly part of syntax.

    I don’t have any illusions about Danish being agglutinative to the extent that Hungarian is. It was a beginning impression when I started to learn and was based on the earliest instruction in the text I was using. It was not an impression that was supported as I read further. It may have been pointless of me to talk about it in that way at all in this thread. I could just as well have said that this feature of Danish was surprising to me and left it at that
    The Scandinavian Germanic languages do not belong to the agglutinative languages, of course. Whether they are rather "synthetic" or not is an other crirerion, I think. E.g. the Spanish future "iré" is expressed in English analytically "I shall go", i.e. not by a verbal ending like in Spanish. Thus, the agglutinave languages can also be more or less or synthetic or analytic, even if they tend to be more synthetic comparing with the modern Indo-European languages.

    The definiteness expressed by an article attached to the end of the noun/adjevtive is neither a criterion from this point of view. See e.g. the Romanian and Bulgarian: they both are non-agglutanative languages, neverthless they use definite articles attached to the end. On the other hand, the Hungarian is an (almost) "pure" agglutinative language, and the definite article precedes the noun/adjective exactly like in English.
    Last edited by francisgranada; 3rd December 2012 at 9:55 PM. Reason: Terminological correction

  20. #20
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    Re: Danish: hesten er stor

    Scandinavian languages (except Icelandic) perhaps, are more analytic than synthetic. They are not agglutinative, but they form the definite form of nouns in an agglutinative way. In this respect Baltic or even Slavic languages may be more agglutinative, or rather use more agglutinative techniques. I don't consider Finnish a Scandinavian language in this respect -- this is the way I was taught, although I know now they sometimes call it also Scandinavian, but not Nordic. Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language and it is agglutinative. Even Icelandic may be more analytic than synthetic, I think, but less than the other Nordic languages.
    Last edited by LilianaB; 3rd December 2012 at 2:38 PM.

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