Swedish or Danish - Want to Learn Norweigian

xsialeedsx

New Member
English - Canada
Hello :)

I really want to learn Norweigan; however, it is not offered at my university. Instead my school offers Swedish and Danish. I've already done some research around the forums and I think what I've learned is that Swedish sounds like Norweigan, whereas Danish is written like Norweigan. Is there any more context that forum members are able to provide? I'm currently not sure whether I should go with Swedish or Danish. Which seems like the smarter language to go with?

Thanks for any help!
 
  • Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    I'd chose the language that is spoken by the greater number of people, if I don't have any better reason for picking one or the other.

    Superficially Swedish sounds more like Norwegian. Still there may be just as much difference to Norwegian as to Danish.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello :)

    I really want to learn Norweigan; however, it is not offered at my university. Instead my school offers Swedish and Danish. I've already done some research around the forums and I think what I've learned is that Swedish sounds like Norweigan, whereas Danish is written like Norweigan. Is there any more context that forum members are able to provide? I'm currently not sure whether I should go with Swedish or Danish. Which seems like the smarter language to go with?

    Thanks for any help!
    If you learn Norwegian, you'll understand 95% written Danish and 80% spoken Swedish.
    If you learn Swedish you'll understand 50% written Danish and 60% written Norwegian, 60% spoken Norwegian and 35% spoken Danish.
    If you learn Danish you'll understand 60% written Swedish and Norwegian, but very little of spoken Swedish or Norwegian.
    This is based on the polls about mutual undestanding of Scandinavian languages.
     

    Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    If you learn Norwegian, you'll understand 95% written Danish and 80% spoken Swedish.
    If you learn Swedish you'll understand 50% written Danish and 60% written Norwegian, 60% spoken Norwegian and 35% spoken Danish.
    If you learn Danish you'll understand 60% written Swedish and Norwegian, but very little of spoken Swedish or Norwegian.


    These percentages are based on polls conducted among native speakers
    and do not necessarily apply to those who learn Danish, Norwegian or Swedish as a foreign language. For example, one of the reasons Norwegians understand spoken Swedish so readily is that they grow up watching a lot of Swedish films and TV shows (the same is not true of Swedes and Norwegian TV).
     

    jonquiliser

    Senior Member
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    This is based on the polls about mutual undestanding of Scandinavian languages.
    These percentages are based on polls conducted among native speakers [/COLOR]and do not necessarily apply to those who learn Danish, Norwegian or Swedish as a foreign language. For example, one of the reasons Norwegians understand spoken Swedish so readily is that they grow up watching a lot of Swedish films and TV shows (the same is not true of Swedes and Norwegian TV).
    Not sure what the polls are, but as a native Swedish speaker I definitely would say I understand way more than 60 or even 80% of spoken Norwegian.

    That aside, I think it is true that mutual understanding is probably greater among mother tongue speakers. I recognise many words of Norwegian (and Danish), although not in actual use in Swedish, but rather as archaic sounding or just uncommon. Removing this dimension, comprehension will likely decrease significantly.

    I'd still say (based on gut feeling and a fair amount of reading in both N and D) that Norwegian and Swedish are the relatively closest of the three. But if you want to study Danish or Swedish now with the intention of later studying Norwegian, maybe Danish is still better precisely if (very slightly) more distant (and so more easy to keep separate)?
     
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    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Hello!

    I think what I've learned is that Swedish sounds like Norwegian, whereas Danish is written like Norwegian.
    That's basically the case, I think. This means that your choice may depend on why you want to learn Norwegian, and how you want to use the language. If your aim is to be able to read Norwegian, Danish is probably be the best choice. If you want to be able to talk with Norwegians, Swedish may be a better choice.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    If you learn Norwegian, you'll understand 95% written Danish and 80% spoken Swedish.
    If you learn Swedish you'll understand 50% written Danish and 60% written Norwegian, 60% spoken Norwegian and 35% spoken Danish.
    If you learn Danish you'll understand 60% written Swedish and Norwegian, but very little of spoken Swedish or Norwegian.
    This is based on the polls about mutual undestanding of Scandinavian languages.
    That is pretty close to the truth, I think. Especially when you learn one Scandinavian language as a foreign language.

    Sometimes one only understands the other language because some of the words at least are similar to archaic words that belong to your passive vocabulary, but that no foreign student of the language would normally know.
     

    More od Solzi

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    I've read Swedes are more comfortable with reading Nynorsk than with reading Bokmål,
    the opposite is also true: Bokmål-using Norwegian kids find having read Swedish books (in elementary school) useful later when they start learning Nynorsk (in high school):

    byrja (Nynorsk ) = börja (Swedish)
    eta (Nynorsk) = äta (Swedish)
    orsak (Nynorsk) = ursäkta (Swedish)
    sommar (Nynorsk) = sommar (Swedish)
    ljoset (Nynorsk) = ljuset (Swedish)
    sjukehus (Nynorsk) = sjukhus (Swedish)
    han vart mobba (Nynorsk) = han vart mobbad (spoken Swedish)

    etc.

    Bokmål looks like Danish with a modernized spelling, while Nynorsk looks like a mix of Swedish and Faroese.
    Nynorsk-using Norwegians have no problem with Swedish plurals (-ar vs -er, because Nynorsk feminine plurals [-er] correspond to Swedish -er plurals, except for exceptions like älvar (which is also an exception in Nynorsk: ei elve - elva- elvar) or drottningar (ei dronning - dronninga - dronningar)).
     
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    Göte

    Member
    Swedish
    I don't quit understand why Nynorsk should be easier for Swedes to understand. Both Danish and Swedish are East Scandinavian languages, and both are heavily influenced by Low Middle German. But in Nynorsk you use fwer lonewords from Danish and Low Middle German than in Bokmål, words which otherwise might be cognates. Possibly less cognates may make it harder to understand by Swedes.
     

    Havfruen

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - American
    If you learn Norwegian, you'll understand 95% written Danish and 80% spoken Swedish.
    If you learn Swedish you'll understand 50% written Danish and 60% written Norwegian, 60% spoken Norwegian and 35% spoken Danish.
    If you learn Danish you'll understand 60% written Swedish and Norwegian, but very little of spoken Swedish or Norwegian.
    This is based on the polls about mutual undestanding of Scandinavian languages.
    I've learned Danish and I can read Norwegian Bokmål easily, probably 90 to 99% depending on level of difficulty, and certainly far more than the 60% mentioned. On the other hand written Swedish is more difficult for me, I understand 70-90% and it's more of a chore to read it. As for written Nynorsk, it's definitely harder than Bokmål but maybe a little easier than Swedish.

    It seems strange that Norwegians could understand 95% of written Danish while Danes could only understand 60% of written Norwegian(!). If anything I would think a Danish speaker would find it easier to read Bokmål than vice versa, as the Norwegians have dropped some letters that are no longer pronounced. It also seems strange than Danish speakers supposedly have equal reading comprehension (60%) for both Norwegian and Swedish, when I expect that former should be higher than the latter.

    As for understanding spoken Norwegian or Swedish, it's true I initially understood little based on Danish. However I have found it possible to improve substantially without too much effort by watching Norwegian and Swedish TV and movies, with subtitles in either the original language or in English.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    It probably has to do with the pace at which a language is changing. You could probably find old texts that ARE in Danish and lots of Danes would have the same difficulties understanding them.
    In comparison, Norwegians will have an edge, having learned standard modern Norwegian and the more formal older Norwegian, maybe even combined with some regional version ...
     

    Havfruen

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - American
    It probably has to do with the pace at which a language is changing. You could probably find old texts that ARE in Danish and lots of Danes would have the same difficulties understanding them.
    In comparison, Norwegians will have an edge, having learned standard modern Norwegian and the more formal older Norwegian, maybe even combined with some regional version ...
    So you mean written Norwegian is changing faster than written Danish?
     

    sjiraff

    Senior Member
    English
    Hi OP

    As a native (i'm assuming) English speaker like you, I would probably recommend Swedish over Danish for Norwegian, but to be honest I'd say both are still good for moving on to Norwegian.

    To be honest, if there is one language you prefer, even if it's just slightly - chose it. The best way to learn a language is one you like, since you will actually enjoy overcoming hurdles and have a drive to persivere. Danish written does look a lot like Norwegian, but interestingly I can understand chunks of what Swedes say, whereas I pretty much can't understand a single thing of what Danes say!

    Don't shy away from a challenge though, since overcoming difficult parts of a language will pay off later on if you want to move on to other things.

    Good luck
     

    mexerica feliz

    Senior Member
    português nordestino
    So you mean written Norwegian is changing faster than written Danish?
    Would the Danish understand this sentence? Jenta kasta boka i elva. (The girl threw the book into the river)?
    While Nynorskized Bokmaal (called 'radikalt Bokmaal') is rare in newspapers (except for Klassekampen newspaper),
    many Norwegian writers use this de-Danified form of Bokmaal, for example Per Petterson and Mona Høvring.

    I don't agree with linguists who say radical Bokmaal is rare in writing.
    They should look beyond legalese and newspeak and venture into the wor(l)d of modern Norwegian literature.

    Danish children books (for example those written by Lene Kaaberbøl )are normally translated into both Nynorsk and Bokmaal,
    that means Norwegian children don't find Danish that easy to read.
     
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    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    So you mean written Norwegian is changing faster than written Danish?

    That is not the point. Norwegians learn two versions of their language - a more general one, and an older more formal one. Danes don't

    As I mentioned, it is often the more archaic elements of the language that helps one along ...


    Would the Danish understand this sentence? Jenta kasta boka i elva...

    I'd say, that depends on what part of the country they are from. Someone from Jutland would probably think that "elva" means 11 - whereas someone from the Eastern part of "Sjaelland" would recognize it as the word for "river".
     
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    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Norwegians learn two versions of their language - a more general one, and an older more formal one. Danes don't
    That is not quite accurate. Norwegians learn two versions, Bokmål and Nynorsk, but none of them are more formal and they are about equally old (at least as written languages). It might be better to say that Norwegians are used to more language variation -- and that may make it easier to understand other Scandinavian languages .
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Well, that all boils down to the point I was making: That it is not that one language is developing faster than the other.
     
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