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Loves_Shizuka
07-14-2011, 11:57 PM
Hello FSUers! Being a lover of all things Nordic (Scandinaviophile my friends call me :o ) I want to learn one of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or Finnish - something I've wanted to do for YEARS, but have never really had the time for. Now I do! :D

Would native speakers, or indeed anyone, have any advice on which to pick? Being in central London, I am very lucky in that I have access to classes in all four languages (this I have checked) starting September/October time. But which to go for?

Finland is one of my very favourite places - but I'm well aware of how difficult the language is - the most difficult in Europe, I've read/heard in numerous places. Is there truth to this I wonder?

I'm really torn between Norwegian and Swedish; I love the countries and absolutely love the sound of the languages. I know they're closely related; what are the major differences? Is one more challenging than the other?

Danish is the one I've thought least about, but I'm coming round. Again, I love what I've seen of the country, but I don't know as much about it or the language as the others. I'm certainly open to it though.

Which would be most difficult? Which might be considered easier? Which might be most useful?

I know people are going to say that this is pointless, because everyone in Scandinavia speaks perfect English :lol: but I don't care. As well, I'm not doing this for business reasons, or for my CV or anything. I'm a language nut, and already speak Russian, German and Japanese pretty well. I love the process of language learning and I'm doing this purely for my own pleasure; I just don't know which one to go for!

Suggestions (or just any general info on these languages) please!

Thank you

:D

Mozart
07-15-2011, 12:30 AM
I can't help you but I want to learn Swedish one of these days

galaxygirl
07-15-2011, 12:44 AM
I'm afraid I can't help too much, but I would go with Norwegian, based on my gut, which probably isn't terribly helpful to you. :)

Also, Finnish is not an Indo-European language, which is one reason it's so difficult. It's actually related to Turkish and Hungarian. It's also an agglutinative (?) language, which means it builds phrases by using suffixes and infixes instead of using prepositions and other 'helper' words, so the words get really long. Finally, double vowels and consonants are extremely important to the meanings of words and they can be a little tricky. It is a very pretty language, though. I would love to be able to speak it.

liv
07-15-2011, 12:52 AM
I speak Estonian, which is closely related to Finnish, and they're part of the difficult Finno-Ugric group of languages. Not a group I'd recommend for ease of learning.

For fun one day a few months ago, I browsed through the learn-Swedish textbook my parents had, and I found it very easy to learn. It made a lot of sense to me, so from my point of view, I'd choose that one...especially if you follow hockey, lol.

MikiAndoFan#1
07-15-2011, 01:02 AM
I'd choose Finnish. I just love how it sounds.

kwanfan1818
07-15-2011, 01:34 AM
If the challenge of learning languages is what is most compelling, I would choose Finnish, since it is so different from the ones you know.

I'm horrible with languages, but I know people from Northern Germany who can follow Danish because they say it's close enough to German to understand the basics. (This might be a dialect or regional blending thing.)

galaxygirl
07-15-2011, 02:22 AM
If the challenge of learning languages is what is most compelling, I would choose Finnish, since it is so different from the ones you know.

I'm horrible with languages, but I know people from Northern Germany who can follow Danish because they say it's close enough to German to understand the basics. (This might be a dialect or regional blending thing.)

IIRC, Norwegians and Danes and Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other but Swedes and Danes can't.

ETA: Here's a blog post on this subject. http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/the-mutual-intelligibility-of-the-scandanavian-languages/

I skimmed it, but from what little I did read, it seems like Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other, at least somewhat, and Danes can understand Swedes, but not vice versa.

Karina1974
07-15-2011, 04:31 AM
I know people are going to say that this is pointless, because everyone in Scandinavia speaks perfect English

Not necessarily. My mother's cousin (who I am named after) came over from Norway for my cousin's oldest son's wedding several years ago, and while her husband Knute could speak English, she could not.

I wish I could speak Norwegian, as it would literally be my mother tongue (my mother is full-blooded Norwegian). The closest I've gotten to that side of my ethnicity is all the Norwegian folk music my mother played on the stereo when I was a kid. That, and I contra dance with a married couple who are walking encyclopedias on both Norwegian and Swedish folk dancing. I have had the pleasure of attending a few of their workshops, for the Swedish hambo (I can't get the turns right!), and also for Norwegian Telemark dancing (my grandfather was from Skein in the Telemark region).

genegri
07-15-2011, 04:38 AM
I skimmed it, but from what little I did read, it seems like Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other, at least somewhat, and Danes can understand Swedes, but not vice versa.

Sorry off topic, but this is very interesting. I wonder why?

I have a friend who is from Spain. According to him, Spanish, Portugese and Italians can sort of understand one another but not necessarily mutually. For example Spanish can understand Italian better than Italians understand Spanish. Or something like that.

I always wondered why.

On the other hand, according to my friend, "nobody understands the damn French except the damn French." :lol:

maatTheViking
07-15-2011, 05:08 AM
I am Danish.

A couple of things:

- Norway has 2 languages, 'New Norwegian' (ny norsk) and 'Old Norwegian' (bokmaal). Both are spoken as far as I know. Bokmaal is very close to Danish, I can quite easily understand, and read it almost as well as I read Danish. Ny norsk is a little harder. Bokmaal is a constructed language, created to seperate Norwegian from Danish (since we used to rule over Norway) More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_language

- As a Dane, I can understand Nowegians most of the time, especially if they speak Bokmaal. I can understand Swedes some of the time, depending on where in Sweden they are from. I can read Swedish quite easily. Most words are similar, a few are very different ('rolig' means quiet in Danish and 'funny' in Swedish), but we learn a little Swedish in School (I think we read a Swedish poem in Danish lit or something), so most people know this.

- The reason Swedish is harder to understand than Norwegian is that not only was Danish more or less the official language of Norway while it was rules by Denmark, Swedish has a lot more 'singing' to it, Danish is very flat.

- Some Western Danish dialects are probably very hard to understand for Swedes, the languages/dialects are closer where the people are closer.

as for which language to learn, I recently read an article about Danish being one of the hardest languages to learn, apparently Danish babies grows their vocabulary much slower the first year of speaker than a lot of their peers (they catch up though ;) ). Danish has 17 different vowel sounds, for instance. (I think one of the comparison countries was Croatia, Croatian has somethign like 5).
In addition it is hard to learn how to spell in Danish, there are no real rules for pronounciation/spelling correlation - worse than English, but a lot of words like height weight where the spelling is similar but the vowel sounds are different.

My grandmother was German, she lived in Denmark from she was in her late 30s to her death, and she never learned how to pronounce 'boots' :P

I think I would choose Swedish, it is a lot more melodious than Danish, and closer to English I think ( Swedes have the best English accents!), or Finnish, just because it is very different, and from what I know, while the grammer is complicated, the pronounciation is really easy.

Also, this might be relevant :P http://satwcomic.com/not-english

Nekatiivi
07-15-2011, 08:58 AM
As a Finn I am ofcourse a bit biased but I would say that to learn understantable Finnish is not that difficult. It is a different matter if you want to be perfect in it: even the natives mess up with vovel changes from time time. :lol:

Toivotan sinulle opiskelun iloa jokatapauksessa, huolimatta siitä minkä kielen valitset. ;)

Loves_Shizuka
07-15-2011, 09:16 AM
^:lol: @ that cartoon strip!

Thanks for the answers so far guys; looking at all the links now!

Marilou
07-15-2011, 10:28 PM
What an interesting thread. I can't help choose either. But, by what others have said, if you want a real challenge, I'd go for Finnish. However, I think learning any would be wonderful. My husband's family is of Norwegian heritage, I have some Swedish friends and a Danish brother-in-law. I love the sound of all of them.

On a side note, I am leaving tomorrow to visit all four of those countries. Perhaps when I return, I could tell you which one I'd pick :)

Finnice
07-15-2011, 10:43 PM
A great idea, Loves Shizuka!

I think Swedish is quite easy to learn, the grammatics are not as bad as in French or Russian. And if you speak Swedish, you can communicate with the Norwegians and read Danish, the spoken Danish can be very hard to understand, depending the speaker. It is like Dutch - to read it is easy, to understans the speech not.

Finnish, suomen kieli, as the others have stated, comes from a totally different language family. While it has words from Russian, Swedish and Germanian language, its vocabulary and grammar are very different from them. Estonian and Hungarian have some similarities.

Anyway, if you choose Finnish, there is one willing penpal. And I really admire your willingness to learn new languages!

Mozart
07-15-2011, 10:55 PM
I want to learn Swedish as it is my ancestory (I have a very common Swedish last name). Are there any Swedish speakers here?