A lot of people are very conscious about learning one of these Scandinavian languages and they tend to assume that if they learned one out of these three they will also learn the other two at the same time without spending much time and effort. If you plan to move to a specific country, particularly in Scandinavia, you must learn the Scandinavian languages. However, choosing which language is a bit difficult to decide. Are Scandinavian languages easy to learn? Not all Scandinavians languages are easy to learn. It also depends on your first language or what kind of language you speak – English, Chinese, Dutch and others. For intelligibility, I presume English speakers find the Scandinavian languages are easy to learn. But, it relies on every element of the language; some parts are easy other parts are not. In this post we will try to figure out how a first language can impact the level of difficulty and simplicity in learning Scandinavian languages.
English Speakers: For English speakers Scandinavian languages are fairly easy for them to learn.
All Scandinavian languages are mostly the same in grammar, so in this part it doesn’t separate them. When the Norse people (the Vikings) came to Britain they carried substantial linguistic influence, in such that modern English shared a volume of vocabulary and grammar with Scandinavian languages.
Scandinavians have borrowed many English words such as ‘weekend,’ ‘teenager,’ and many more. When it comes to phonology Norwegian or Swedish have the closest relation. Danish sounds quietly different.
The Swedish and Norwegian have related phonology, but, it has different characteristics placing it apart from the phonology of its closest languages. All these languages are strongly similar when it comes to Alphabet.
In Norwegian and Danish there are three letters Æ Ø Å and in Swedish Ä Ö Å. They constitute the same three vowels and their alphabet is likely the same as the English alphabet. Danish is relatively difficult than Norwegian or Swedish languages in terms of phonology, however the three Scandinavian languages are entirely similar. English speakers have a great start in learning these languages they find Scandinavian languages simpler than learning Japanese and Mandarin. Even Scandinavians are really good at speaking English because their language ancestor comes from Old Norse. Most linguists even categorized these three languages as dialects of the same language as they are generally mutually intelligible.
Swedish Speakers: There is no unbiased difficulty level – it is most fairly a lot easier for a Swedish speaker than for a Chinese to learn Danish. Norwegian language has two officially identified versions of writing systems- Bokmål and Nynorsk. Almost 90% of the Norwegian population used Bokmal. Nynorsk and Bokmal are closely similar to each other. Danish language has a notable difference in pronunciation and spelling. To Swedes reading Danish is quite simple; however understanding spoken Danish is absolutely a different story. Danish pronunciation has many of mumble words and dropped letters, which makes more difficult to understand. On the other hand, the grammar in Swedish is mostly as natural as German, but greatly simpler. For business goal Swedish is perfectly fit to choose. When learning Swedish it is the most widespread spoken language. Sweden is the most popular of the Nordic countries, among the Scandinavian languages. The Country has an extensive scale of business chances and high marketing companies consequently, making the most admired choice of jobs, and marketing endeavors. Moreover, Sweden is also an EU member and has high in economic gross where its population is well provided with many job opportunities and tourism. Romance and “Regular” Germanic speakers: For Romance Scandinavian languages should not be very difficult, but still harder compared to other languages. Norwegian language is easy in pronunciation and direct grammar; to Swedish it’s a close. While Danish is more difficult, its pronunciation is hard grammar and connected rules as well. If you sense up to learn a related easy language, but currently choosing with two languages, go for Norwegian. Otherwise, the verdict will favorably go with the Swedish language. To get you started Learn Norwegian in 30 Minutes – ALL the Basics You Need:
Which of the Scandinavian languages is easiest to be understood by others?
Eastern Norwegian is the most widespread understood language all over Scandinavia. Even Danes and Swedes come easy to grasp this language that understanding their own languages.
Besides, the pronunciation is nearly range of written Norwegian and Danish, more than any other spoken language diversity of either Norwegian or Danish. Also, Norwegian has effortless, clear pronunciation without difficulty in sounds. This makes it easy to understand and learn the language.
Additionally, the Norwegian Bokmal variation is entirely alike from the written Danish. So, you will be able to read Newspapers in Danish form as well. But, when looking at the other side, Norwegian along with its languages might have a problem.
The Norwegian have a lot variety of dialects specifically a large dialect variation compared to Danish and Swedish because Norway has no official spoken language. When Norwegians meet in different places, they will not change their language into a usual standard and still they understand each other.
For a beginner, it is very hard to adapt easily when understanding dialects variations, but if you have the knowledge in dealing different dialects in your native tongue this is simple to adapt.
Denmark and Sweden have an official spoken standard and they have much of a culture for shifting if necessary, unlike Norwegians they don’t do this even if they are able.
This video might help you to Learn Danish – How to Introduce Yourself in Danish
While Spoken Danish has progress to be even more difficult to learn particularly to someone who is not a native Scandinavian speaker and there’s a big difference between Spoken and written Danish and it has many hard sounds.
Furthermore, Norwegian is phonetically close to Swedish. It is a bit remote from the “Dano-Norwegian linguistic tradition,” particularly when it comes to expressions and vocabulary.
While Denmark and Norway were likely united for many centuries and used the spoken language until 1907, unlike Sweden never had a historical tie in the past centuries. When Norway was unified with Sweden, the official language used in Norway was Danish not Swedish.
Why English finds easy to learn the Scandinavian languages? English speakers find easy to learn the Scandinavian languages because the alphabet is very similar, although there’s some added vowels, grammar and word order are similar to English as well. English sometimes referred as a Scandinavian language as it is rooted from a blend of Anglo Saxon and Norse.
If you are an English speaker and you love to learn these languages you will go first with Norwegian, followed by Swedish and last Danish.
Danish is much easier when it comes on paper or writing, but in its spoken form you will struggle the most. A lot of Basic English words are related to the Old English words and substituted by the Norse. Almost all modern English pronouns are originating from the Scandinavian Norse not derived from Anglo Saxon.
For English speakers, Norwegian is the simplest, clearest and uncomplicated language from the other Scandinavian languages. Danish is easy to grasp, but in its spoken form it’s another thing.
Related Questions: Are North Germanic Languages Mutually Intelligible? This question is often popping around the internet and brings a great confusion to some learners. Each language has a nature of having similarity and differences because of its origin and modernization.
When it comes to the North Germanic languages – these languages have similarities and differences and the other Scandinavian languages are mutually intelligible.
Not all North Germanic languages are mutually intelligible. There are historical documents that these languages separated from each other due to many reasons in the ancient centuries.
To quash the controversy let’s begin to dig deeper into what the North Germanic languages came from and its origin with the neighboring countries.
The languages used in Scandinavia are so-called North Germanic languages such as Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Faroese. These are subdivided into sub-groups East and West. Danish and Swedish belong to the East Scandinavian while Norwegian and Icelandic, belong to West Scandinavian languages. On the other hand Finnish, being wholly different, under the Finno-Ugric language family.
Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are identical and it’s well-known for all the people living in these three countries that allow the people to read both the two languages without struggling.
Norwegian and Swedish languages are more difficult to understand their spoken tongue which had a bit exposed to spoken Danish.
Moreover, Faroese and Icelandic have a few words in common with Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. However, Icelandic and Faroese are not mutually intelligible for Scandinavians unless for definite Norwegians who have the same dialect. The diverse standards and variety of use dialects will give the most problems to learners when taking the courses. But, it relies on the dialect you’ve wanted to learn it can build bridges and gap to other Scandinavian languages.
The westernmost dialects are much related to Faroese and Icelandic than any official languages and in the easternmost sides of Norway and even the standard of Bokmål are extremely similar in written and spoken Swedish.
When Danish and Swedish bumped into each other they have a problem in understanding each other, whereas the Norwegians who likely to speak Oslo dialect are entirely understood by their neighbors.
Why? In past centuries, Norway was once invaded by Denmark and Sweden.
Danish and Norwegian Vocabulary/Spelling/Pronunciation/Writing: When it comes to vocabulary Danish and Norwegian are most identical as Norway was governed under Denmark’s rule. Their vocabulary and spelling slightly differs while the pronunciation of words frequently the same and has a similar meaning.
Additionally, written Danish and Norwegian (Norwegian Bokmal) are very related, the written Swedish carry some words that a Dane and Norwegian person can’t possibly understand except if they both know each other.
Now, you realized how Norwegian differs in many aspects compared to Swedish and Danish languages. But the most important thing in choosing the language is identifying your goal and what language benefits you utmost. Even Danish language is described by others as difficult as the German language yet, it is your goal to study Danish this might not affect your objective in learning the language.
English is the Key In Spite of the similarities in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages – to bridge the language gap, Scandinavians results to use English frequently, due to the variations of dialects prevailing in the Scandinavian countries and the impact of modern age. However, investing effort to reach out and to understand each other is through practice.
Does Norway have two languages? It was a controversy and frequently claimed that Norway has two dialects or languages. But, it is not true.
The truth is, Norway has one “de facto” language which is their national language. To the degree where the Scandinavian languages are split languages (which is questionable) the Nynorsk and Bokmål are divided languages, and correlation is equivalent to the relationship among any other Scandinavian languages.
But, Nynorsk is considered a small language which is used in only 10% of people in Norway and around 1.5 % of the entire Scandinavians (who has the knowledge of Bokmål) and Nynorsk does not have any of the benefits that resulted Bokmål immensely understood.
In contrary to Bokmål’s origins in the Denmark-Norway history, Nynorsk is established in the 19th century left apart from the affairs and nationalist plan, and has been becoming less in importance since the 1930s.
Learning Norwegian doesn’t rely on bothering dialects or Nynorsk. Basically, all the learning resources for foreigners and learners are written in Bokmål. If you’re learning Norwegian it is better to ignore the prevailing of Nynorsk for not to be confused.
Is it possible to learn Scandinavian languages online? Yes of course, there’s an opportunity to learn online. There are many online resources that are very accessible and will help you learn Scandinavian languages. The following websites are open to help you learn Scandinavian languages;
The outstanding Duolingo.com has recently attached lessons in Scandinavian languages. So, if you want to learn, you may take the lessons between all three Scandinavian languages such as Norwegian, Swedish and Danish at ease.
The online learning site like Livemocha announces to have free introductory lessons in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic. The free courses only focus on the basics of each language.
Sons of Norway doesn’t try to teach grammar, however, if you have the knowledge of the words and sentences taught here, you’ve got a head start. They offer free lessons.
Memrise -Learn something new every day has numerous courses for every of the Scandinavian languages. They’re of opting quality, though. So this is a better start to learn at Memrise.
Official Rosetta Stone® – Language Learning – You can learn a Language here and they have a really good language-lessons to choose from and includes Swedish, but the lessons quite expensive.
Learn Norwegian | CampusOnline has several options for learning Norwegian.
Learn at Netdansk online where they offer lessons specifically for Scandinavians languages.
If you have reached a specific level of each course, significantly all Scandinavian TV stations, radio, news, and etc. are fully available online. These can help you more attentive in learning and understanding Scandinavians languages.
Conclusion: When looking for solutions which language is easy to learn is a bit tricky, especially when choosing three languages which are mutually intelligible.
So, if you would likely to ask which language is the most easiest when it comes to being understood by others, Norwegian language is the best pick. Moreover, written Norwegian (Bokmal variation) is very identical from the written Danish which you would be able to read and grasp Danish newspapers as well.
On the other hand, if you like to ask which language is easy to learn for an English speaker Norwegian and Swedish are the best choice. These languages are both similar in grammar and phonology unlike Danish the phonology is quite hard.
Norwegian, Swedish and Danish to the same extent are easy to learn, with a little edge in difficulty level when it comes to Danish – bearing to its pronunciation, which is strongly tough for some people.
If you have a much more fascinating in Scandinavia or maybe you haven’t decided yet which country you love the most to explore you should learn Norwegian. In its supreme Bokmål variation, with corresponding pronunciation and well-known of its standard Norwegian spoken in Oslo and anywhere in Eastern Norway you can spread extensively throughout Norway.
In spoken Danish it strongly differ a big difference from Swedish and Norwegian. But, the very crucial part of learning Danish, conversing with other Scandinavians can be a little challenging, understanding and verbally.
Therefore, when choosing a language, particularly the Scandinavian languages keep in mind that learning is a skill that can be developed and it’s good to invest a little penny to achieve the desired quality and outcome that will make you more efficient, versatile, cohesive and more productive in the field of communicating and dealing business as well.