Swedish/Norwegian/Danish: Advice for a learner

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Esemismo, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. Esemismo New Member

    I want to learn this 3 languages eventually, but of course I need to begin with one, right? Can I study the 3 of them at the same time, or is it better to learn one first and then learn the difference to the others?
    Another question, if I had to choose one first language to study, what would it be the most intelligible one to the others? I heard that Norwegians understand better Swedish and Danish than the way around.
    Just that, thanks for your patience.
  2. I think, it is a good idea to study them at once. The point is that you might have trouble with time. If so, I suggest you first take up either Swedish or Norwegian/Danish. The closer the languages are, the more likely you are to confuse them, hence the more sense it makes to try and learn them in a parallel manner. Norwegian and Danish are closer to each other, Swedish is a bit different.
  3. I was able to read Danish after Norwegian (and having learnt Swedish prior to that) without even studying it. But speaking and understanding would be a problem. The pronunciation is very different. Closer to Northern German or Dutch, I would say.
    The pronunciation in Norwegian is easier than in Swedish and Danish, I think. But Swedish will have many words which are different from their Danish/Norwegian equivalents. Ultimately, you should base your decision upon the practical points: which language is more necessary to you at the moment or in the future, which materials are easier to find, the native speakers of which are available etc...etc
  4. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I speak only Swedish but I have done translations both from Norwegian and from Danish. Besides, I have had many contacts with the Scandinavian journalists. (I've found that spoken Norwegian is easier to understand but written Danish is easier for me.)

    On these grounds I'd suggest that you start with Swedish. In a way Norwegian seems to be easier, especially for pronunciation, but there are two different languages, Bokmål and Nynorsk, a fact that may cause difficulties.

    My suggestion is based on my own experiences. Both the Norwegian and the Danes seem to understand Swedish but the Swedish don't necessarily understand Danish and Norwegian.

    I can't help telling a true story about these languages: We were a dozen of journalist from the Scandinavian countries invited to France by PSA company. During the lunch we journalists were discussing eagerly, and one our host asked us:
    - If I understand right, you are from different countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. What language do you speak?
    - Well, said a Swedish fellow, I speak Swedish, this guy speaks Danish, that one speaks Norwegian, anf the Finn, well, he speaks a kind of Swedish, too.
    - And you all understand each other?
    - No, we don't, we just talk, said the Swede.
  5. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
  6. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    Outsider's link has a good discussion.

    Speaking Danish natively, I will not recommend it as your first choice. Both Norwegian and Swedish are more melodic languages. Foreigners typically have a hard time learning to pronounce Danish, and on top of it Danes tend to mumble an awful lot which makes things even more difficult for those trying to learn it. Norwegian is pretty much pronounced the way it's written, which cannot really be said for Danish and Swedish. So my guess is Norwegian might be the easiest.

    I wouldn't recommend learning all three at the same time as the same words can mean something very different in the different languages, and the grammar differs somewhat as well.

    Of course, any way you enjoy it the most is the best way.
  7. Tantrum New Member

    Polish Poland
    Read on Wikipedia: "Norwegian is Danish spoken in Swedish".
  8. Banana24 Senior Member

    Auckland, New Zealand
    English and Swedish
    From my personal (and not very wide) experience, many Danes do not find it difficult to understand a little Swedish, however Swedes fing it more difficult to understand Danish. But if you desire to learn these languages, learning them simultaneous is a good idea, at my school students who learn both French and German(which are not very alike) find it easier, as they learn alot about what language is based on, and how it functions, and this makes it easier to understand the concept of another language.:)
  9. duckie

    duckie Senior Member

    I understand the advantage of already knowing the process of learning a new language, but learning two from the beginning at the same time would be more likely to confuse me I think. Especially when the two are so close, and yet have a number of little differences.. that's like adding a whole bunch of exceptions to remember.. Later on when you have a good feeling for a language there's no confusion, but when you just start out: 'is it in Swedish or Danish that you have to add more definite articles?' Is it in Swedish or Danish that xx word means so and so and vice versa?'..
  10. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Based on my experience, I coudn't agree more with Duckie.

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