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Thread: Common Scandinavian

  1. #101
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by Tjahzi View Post
    I could agree with the portrayal of English as being a Germanic language, adopted into the Romance family.
    The basic structure of the language is closer to the Scandinavian languages than anything. Adopting words from romance languages doesn't make it a romance languge.
    One doesn't consider Maltese neither a Germanic nor a Romance language either - although about 2/3 of the vocabulary is adopted from English and Italian.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by Sepia View Post
    The basic structure of the language is closer to the Scandinavian languages than anything. Adopting words from romance languages doesn't make it a romance languge.
    One doesn't consider Maltese neither a Germanic nor a Romance language either - although about 2/3 of the vocabulary is adopted from English and Italian.
    But the analogy of being adopted still fits. I don't necessarily agree with it, but Tjahzi's statement is perfectly sound. If you adopt a child, everything around that child can be of another nature and you can even bring him/her up as speaking another language, but the same structural DNA and wired-in biological features are still present from the real parents. The fact that the basic structure might be closer to Scandinavian or not in no way puts forward an argument against that such an analogy is perfectly fitting. Again, I don't personally look at it exactly the same way Tjazhi does, I think I'd be more inclined to agree with you, but the argument about the structural formations that hold English together in the form of syntax and grammar doesn't devalue his analogy, IMHO.

  3. #103
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Wow, thanks, Alex, for being the first to understand my not overly serious analogy.
    Linguistics is always descriptive. Never prescriptive.

  4. #104
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Just to further clarify. My comment was in reference to the claim that English would be a Scandinavian language, which I found to be a bit sensationalistic and silly, like all other attempts to reclassify known languages into new groups. It's well known that English has evolved from and is classified as a West Germanic languages, a group which was mutually intelligible with North Germanic some millennium ago but not so much lately, contains a greater influx of words of Latin origin than any other (major) language and that its closest living relatives in terms of grammar are Frisian and Afrikaans (both West Germanic).

    What else is there to say?
    Linguistics is always descriptive. Never prescriptive.

  5. #105
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    To Tjahzi.

    I understand so that you support the traditional linguistic point of view. Regretfully I can not post here links yet, there is an article about it in the Internet where the prof. Faarlund shows the examples of syntax and grammatical similarities between English and Scandinavian, such as the words order in a sentence:
    in western Germanic: Ich habe das Bier getrunken
    English (like in Scandinavian): I have drunk the beer;

    and also the so-called splitted infinitive, like:
    "to never again be free",
    which also exists in Scandinavians languages only, but not in western Germanic.

  6. #106
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by willem81 View Post
    To Tjahzi.

    I understand so that you support the traditional linguistic point of view. Regretfully I can not post here links yet, there is an article about it in the Internet where the prof. Faarlund shows the examples of syntax and grammatical similarities between English and Scandinavian, such as the words order in a sentence:
    in western Germanic: Ich habe das Bier getrunken
    English (like in Scandinavian): I have drunk the beer;

    and also the so-called splitted infinitive, like:
    "to never again be free",
    which also exists in Scandinavians languages only, but not in western Germanic.
    You have to be careful with this argument though. Faarlund's proposal has been pretty much universally rejected. When the whole of academia turns against you, that's usually a sign of something. Now, there are some linguists with proposals that have been 'laughed out of the classroom' so-to-speak, who I actually find intriguing so I also recognise the similar situation here, except in this case I take the majority view. It's just to be noticed. It's a sensationalist, grandiose claim that doesn't add any new evidence to what we have already known for decades. I've seen people use the adjective "Faarlund-esque" in some places to describe theories that are sensationalist, generally lacking evidence and are mainly just for headline-grabbing purposes. Check out the Language Log debunk as a first stop on the tour to the hundreds of rejections of the proposal. What I'm trying to say is, this study is packaged and parceled like something serious in academia, but it's pretty much universally rejected by other linguistics, both those working specifically on Nordic Languages/Old English, and also many others who just know how claims should be supported and found a woefully lacking explanation to the new claims. In fact, it's not even a well thought out claim. All he points to are differences and says we should come to the conclusion that this has to be the case. Basically, trying to cite Faarland's study in serious academia is like trying to cite The Simpsons in a sociology class.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    My point was not such much that I disagree about there being obvious similarities between English and the (continental) Scandinavian languages but rather that equally strong connections can be made between many languages and that just pointing at some of these to make a specific case seems like cherry picking to me. For instance, while Scandinavian and English do indeed share the traits of allowing split infinitives as well as "regular" word in subclauses and with past participles/supine, Scandinavian and Dutch/German share the traits of employing V2 word order and having grammatical genders, and English and Dutch/German share the traits of using independent, prepositioned articles and a lack of distinction between the supine and past participles.

    ...and above all that is the bulk of evidence on which the classification of German, Dutch and English as a West Germanic language is based on.
    Last edited by Tjahzi; 25th September 2013 at 10:13 AM.
    Linguistics is always descriptive. Never prescriptive.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    To Alxmrphi

    OK. I did not really know that prof. Faarlund has such a reputation amidst the professional linguists. I as a non-linguist was much impressed by those articles about his research.

    To Tjahzi

    It is true that English is related to both groups - Western and Northern Germanic, therefore taking it away from one group and putting into the other, which is what prof.Faarlund tries to do, needs some more evidence than those similarities he mentions. Or perhaps, English itself forms some new language group - say, "the North-Western Germanic group"?
    By the way, what does also interest me, is there something like phrasal verbs in Scandinavian languages? I think, phrasal verbs are something which characterizes the English language.
    Last edited by willem81; 25th September 2013 at 11:49 AM.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Yes, it's true that English is related to both North and (other) West Germanic languages, in the same way that I'm related both to my sister and my cousin. And yes, any classification should be based on all of the material available, rather than certain elements of it. My suggestion to label English a Romance language based on borrow vocabulary was a comparison to Faarlund's attempt to label it Scandinavian based on subjectively selected traits.

    A phrasal verb, in its essence, is a verb that contains a particle (an adverb, essentially) or preposition, a feature which is shared among all IE-languages. The only difference between English go out, Latin exeo and Russian выходть is the order and manner in which the elements are connected. If anything, one could suggest that these verbs are more flexible and variable in all of the Germanic languages compared to Slavic and Romance.

    So, to answer your question. Yes, there are lots and lots of phrasal verbs to be found in the Scandinavian languages (too).
    Linguistics is always descriptive. Never prescriptive.

  10. #110
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    This debate is missing a very important point. Of course, genetically speaking, English is an Anglo-Frisian language of the West Germanic family. No one, not even Faarlund is debating that. However, English was subject to a massive onslaught from Norse, that not only contributed generously to the English vocabulary, but inflicted grammatical and structural changes not seen in other West Germanic languages. Old English essentially died out - except as a language for chroniclers - and was replaced by a hybrid language with a great number of Norse traits.

    This debate often goes askew because of the misconception of a claim that English is a Scandinavian language in origin. It is not. The claim is that it is an Anglo-Frisian language that came under such heavy attack from Norse that it can be said to be BOTH a West and a North Germanic language.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    The same way Norse "died out" (I believe I said "essentially") during the Plague. There was no one point where there was a last speaker and his/her offspring spoke something else. The language had changed a long time before it ceased being used as a written medium, but as a written medium, it went to its grave with the clerks that still mastered it during the Plague. Classical Latin was used long after the Vulgar Latin variants had established themselves, and Old English was no longer spoken (and had not been so for a while) when it finally ceased from the written records.

    There is no date, no sudden paradigm shift and no tragic "death" of a language - Old English evolved into newer forms, and these were heavily influenced by Norse. It does not make it a Norse language, but that is not the point.
    Last edited by NorwegianNYC; 25th September 2013 at 7:36 PM.

  12. #112
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    ... which takes us to another point I was thinking of all along: What do we mean by "Scandinavian"? I mean, Danes, in general consider themselves and their country "Scandinavian". Germans often even want to include Finland! Many of them, who actually should know better, seem to confuse "Nordic" and "Scandinavian". Or do we mean that which the Romans thought were a large Island and which they named "Scania"? In that case it would only include Sweden and Norway.

    However, if we stick to the Danish version it ought to include not only Demark in its present shape, but all areas where Danish is traditionally spoken by a considerable part of the population, and where the Danish language have a history that dates several Centuries further back than High German. So, if that is our interpretation of "Scandinavia" and "Scandinavian" it does in fact include Anglia and the famous Viking city, Haithabu. That would justify counting the Anglian language to the Scandinavian languages. And as far as I am informed, there was a good deal of influence from Jutish language(s).

    That would make English a Scandinavian language. If you prefer different definition of "Scandinavian" it is probably not a Scandinavian language

  13. #113
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Scandinavia proper consists of Denmark, Sweden and Norway - i.e. the Danish islands, the Jutland peninsula, and the Scandinavian peninsula. Finland is not a part of Scandinavia, nor are the Finns a Scandinavian people or speak a Scandinavian language. Iceland and the Faeroe Islands are nor Scandinavian countries, but they are Scandinavian peoples and speak Scandinavian languages. This is due to medieval colonization from Scandinavia proper.

    The Roman term was Scania, and there were four Scanian islands. These are generally belived to be Funen/Fyn, Lolland, Zealand/Sjælland and Scania/Skåne. The latter is not an island, but the Roman reports were based on people (Germanic tribes) living south of the Baltic Sea, and they regarded Scania as such. In other words - Scandinavia was originally a term used about today's Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden. The inclusion of the rest of Sweden, Denmark and Norway is by default. The names Scandinavia and Scania share an etymology. It is believed it is derived from Proto-Germanic Skaðin-awjō, perhaps meaning "dangerous water", in reference to the reefs and sandbanks off the southern coast of Scania.

    Britain was never considered Scandinavia, and English is not a Scandinavian language per se, but a Germanic language influenced by Scandinavian. English is closer to Frisian and Dutch than to Scandinavian, but the Scanidinavian impact on English cannot be discounted, and is substantial until this day.

    Scandinavian again, is not the same at Nordic. The Nordic countries are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. Estonia and Greenland are sometimes included.

  14. #114
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    Scandinavia proper consists of Denmark, Sweden and Norway - i.e. the Danish islands, the Jutland peninsula, and the Scandinavian peninsula. Finland is not a part of Scandinavia, nor are the Finns a Scandinavian people or speak a Scandinavian language. Iceland and the Faeroe Islands are nor Scandinavian countries, but they are Scandinavian peoples and speak Scandinavian languages. This is due to medieval colonization from Scandinavia proper.

    The Roman term was Scania, and there were four Scanian islands. These are generally belived to be Funen/Fyn, Lolland, Zealand/Sjælland and Scania/Skåne. The latter is not an island, but the Roman reports were based on people (Germanic tribes) living south of the Baltic Sea, and they regarded Scania as such. In other words - Scandinavia was originally a term used about today's Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden. The inclusion of the rest of Sweden, Denmark and Norway is by default. The names Scandinavia and Scania share an etymology. It is believed it is derived from Proto-Germanic Skaðin-awjō, perhaps meaning "dangerous water", in reference to the reefs and sandbanks off the southern coast of Scania.

    Britain was never considered Scandinavia, and English is not a Scandinavian language per se, but a Germanic language influenced by Scandinavian. English is closer to Frisian and Dutch than to Scandinavian, but the Scanidinavian impact on English cannot be discounted, and is substantial until this day.

    Scandinavian again, is not the same at Nordic. The Nordic countries are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. Estonia and Greenland are sometimes included.
    Actually you have just demostrated how "risky" it is to say "this is so and so and can't be any different". As an example, I have never heard Estonia mentioned as one of the Nordic countries. I know "Nordic" as a political entity consisting of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark - the first countries in Europe to let their citizens move around and settle in any of the member states, without needing any permits or even a passport. Of course Greenland and the Faroe Islands were included, since they were part of Denmark. (I am not too sure of their status today.)

    And one must admit that it might be disputable whether Jutland - at least geographically could be considered part of Scandinavia - but if we count total countries, it would in fact be justified to include what used to be Denmark at least till the middle of the 19th century. And if you do that, Anglia is part of it.

    But I suppose it is clear, that there are several ways of seeing this - and how one defines Scandinavia (not only your definition, of mine) should be determined, before one can say "English is a Scandinavian language" or "English is NOT a Scandinavian language".

  15. #115
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    Scandinavia proper consists of Denmark, Sweden and Norway ...
    Iceland and the Faeroe Islands are not Scandinavian countries, but they are Scandinavian peoples and speak Scandinavian languages.
    ...
    Scandinavian again, is not the same at Nordic. The Nordic countries are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. Estonia and Greenland are sometimes included.
    Yes. And that raises the issue of whether this forum is properly named.
    Quote Originally Posted by NorwegianNYC View Post
    This debate is missing a very important point. Of course, genetically speaking, English is an Anglo-Frisian language of the West Germanic family. No one, not even Faarlund is debating that. However, English was subject to a massive onslaught from Norse, that not only contributed generously to the English vocabulary, but inflicted grammatical and structural changes not seen in other West Germanic languages.
    This is a very important point. Many (most?) languages have "messy" histories. Attempting to organize them into well-defined trees (as we can do with (human) siblings, first cousins, second cousins, etc.) will inevitably leave apparent inconsistencies. No classification will be entirely satisfactory. People will often be able to say, "But in these respects language X is closer to "cousin" language Z than to "sister" language Y.

    So modern English is a Germanic language strongly influenced by a Romance language, and in turn a West Germanic language strongly influenced by North Germanic language. (In the first case, so strongly influenced that the language can look more Romance than Germanic, and in the second case so strongly influenced that even some pronouns are North Germanic.)

    With respect to the Romance influence on English: I don't have strong disagreements with anything anyone has said here, but I do think there's a tendency to underestimate the strength of that influence. Consider the following points:

    1. While it's true that English function words (articles, prepositions) and the most common verbs tend to be Germanic, by no means is the Romance vocabulary limited to specialized contexts. Many of the most common words (again, function words aside) are Romance, and many of these have no true Germanic equivalents:
    place, money, large, space, very, language, center, easy, difficult, story, move, paper, turn, student, doctor, real, state, people, person, present, group, possible, family, country, nation, sound (ljud), close, class, level, simple, usual, single, poor and many more.

    2. It's possible to construct entire, natural-sounding sentences from Romance vocabulary exclusively (unintentionally, this very sentence almost accomplished that). Examples:
    Researchers consider family dinners very important.
    Group insurance covers necessary doctor visits (including required hospital charges).
    Polite people generally discuss personal money matters privately.
    Hello! Really nice blue dress!


    3. If you asked English speakers who haven't studied the history of their language whether the (a) or (b) sentence below sound more "natural", or more "English", or less "foreign", they wouldn't know what you were talking about:
    a) Polite people generally discuss personal money matters privately. (Pure Romance)
    b) Thoughful folks talk about their wealth only with their nearest kin.
    (Pure Germanic)

    a) Hello! Really nice blue dress! (Pure Romance)
    b) Good morning! Pretty red skirt! (Pure Germanic)

    (I won't even attempt to provide Germanic-English equivalents to my other sentences above.)

  16. #116
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    I think it is important to look at several different terms here.
    Scandinavia proper, as a political/cultural term, consists of three modern-day countries.
    Scandinavia as a geographical term is the Scandinavian peninsula
    Scandinavian languages is a term covering 5 (sometimes 6) languages, or sooner variants of a common Scandinavian. English has elements from Scandinavian, but has far more elements from West Germanic.
    Scandinavia as a historic term, has varied a great deal, but was originally Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden

    So - we can look at this in many different ways.

    Is Estonia a Nordic country? Well, if you ask Estonians, they will tell you they are. They are geographically a Baltic country, but are not culturally or linguistically related to the Balts. Culturally they are closer to the Finns.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Quote Originally Posted by Sepia View Post
    ... As an example, I have never heard Estonia mentioned as one of the Nordic countries. I know "Nordic" as a political entity consisting of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark - the first countries in Europe to let their citizens move around and settle in any of the member states, without needing any permits or even a passport. Of course Greenland and the Faroe Islands were included, since they were part of Denmark. (I am not too sure of their status today.)
    The international arrangement that mention here as the origin of the term "Nordic" is much younger than the first use of the word, which must have originated in the end of the XIX century among the cultural elite of those countries who felt a cultural relationship between the mentioned countries. Two of them were at that time parts of the Russian empire, but nonetheless regarded themselves as culturally Nordic, even though Estonia was annexed by Russia almost a hundred years earlier than Finland.

    There is however another use of "Nordic" which equates it with the (racially) Nordic, Germanic people, popular mostly in racist circles, and discarded by most people after the fall of Nazism.

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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    I think, there must not be any confusion about the term "Nordic" here, since this forum is a subforum of Germanic languages. Therefore, what we deal with is the Germanic languages, which are in the same time "Nordic". And that is what I referred to as "Scandinavian", which might also be a not quite precise term. The precise term is Northern Germanic languages.

  19. #119
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Scandinavian languages and North Germanic languages is the same thing (synonymous terms). Nordic is a geographical/political/partly cultural term. There are 5 (sometimes 6) Scandinavian (or North Germanic) languages, and 8 Nordic "countries" (not all independent. Estonia (and to a lesser extent Latvia and Lithuania) is sometimes included, but is not a part of the Nordic Council.

  20. #120
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    Re: Common Scandinavian

    Has anybody counted how many definitions of "Scandinavian" and "Nordic" we have so far - all of them correct ...

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