Return to the SWEDISH ArchiveForward to the Current SWEDISH discuss

mwnn81Saturday 19th of March 2005 06:52:46 PM
Swedish vs. Norwegian? - Can anyone tell me how much similar are those two languages? I'm considering learning one of those two and can't pick wich one is better/easier option. As far as I know swedish and norwegian have a lot in common.

best regards
UlvenSaturday 19th of March 2005 07:33:22 PM
- Hello Mwnn81. I'm a beginner at Swedish and Danish, and despite not having learnt any Norwegian, I can pick it up proportionally to the level that I'm at in the other two. For the fisrt 6 months of learning Swedish only, I was able to follow Danish films to the same degree as Swedish films. It's mainly in the later stages of learning that their vocabulary differences come into play. A native Dane here said in response to a Norwegian beginner's belief that he couldn't speak any Danish- "You don't really need to. I speak Danish to my friends in Norway, they speak to me in Norwegian".(This comment has a general context, so obviously there are differences, and some areas in the respective countries will have stranger accents).

Accent between Swedish and Danish is quite large, though.(Keeping in mind that Norwegian is considered half-way between these two). The Danes are the ones that get teased by Norwegians and Swedes for their non-comprehensibility. One Norwegian said to me, when I asked a similar question that you're asking- "The Danes understand both Swedes and Norwegians. Swedes and Norwegians understand each other. But the Danes? No-one understands the Danes!":)lol. A humourous exageration, though. Danes don't pronounce their consonants much, whereas Swedes pronounce them very crisply. Norwegians pronounce them more similar to the Swedes, apparently, but I don't now enough about spoken Norwegian to say who they're closer to. Hearing Danish for the first time will be quite a shock when you look at the same words written. They just won't seem to add up. You may wonder "Do I have the correct cassettes?". (this is what happened to me when I first bought Danish tapes). But, once you get used to it, and know the pattern of pronunciation, I honestly don't find Danish all that difficult. Swedish pronunciation of some letters threw me, but only briefly. So, I'd assume there will be at least a moment of "What tha..?" when hearing Norwegian and seeing it written.
In written, Norwegian and Danish are similar, but Swedish is the most different. I think that Swedish has the most words foreign to an English speaker's eye. Yet, I still regard Swedish as the easiest for an English speaker to learn. The pronunciation being so pure means that it is easier to follow whilst reading along, and your listening comprehension will have an easier time.
Norwegian is the middle-ground. It is smack in the middle of Swedish and Danish, just as the geographic map would suggest. Apparently its pronunciation is more similar to Swedish, despite it using more Danish spelling. Though, I don't hear alot of Norwegian, so I don't know with any acurracy if it is more similar to Swedish. All I know is that if there's a Norwegian film on TV, I understand it the same as Danish and Swedish films.
But, whichever one you choose, it will help your ability in the other two. My Danish cropped up over night after having never even touched the language. I'd only studied some Swedish.

In simple terms, my vote goes to Swedish being the easiest for an English speaker to learn. 2nd easiet- Norwegian, followed by Danish. Though, it is said that Danish grammar is simplest. Swedish word order seems more strict than Danish, which is why I'm more at ease with Danish grammar. But that strictness can be a good thing if you know your stuff. So, it's probably more my laziness with grammar books that is why my Swedish isn't as good as it could be. Still, I say Swedish is the easiest of any language for an English speaker.
HoogardSaturday 19th of March 2005 08:04:46 PM
- Hello there. Old norse actually split up in two groups. One consisting of danish and swedish and the other one of norwegian and icelandic.

This means that on paper swedish has more in common with danish. And thath might be true when actually reading the texts.

Now when it comes to talking and listening swedish and norwegian definately sound more similar. I was taught in school that there is only 2-3% of the vocabulary that we don't understand.

Now when comparing norwegian to swedish it's a more "happy language" :). We commonly joke that a norwegian can't feel unhappy. At least not that you can register by listening to them :). And you should be used to it going quite high pitched in the endings and things like that hehe.

Being native swedish it's hard for me to be objective about which language you should choose. Good luck with whichever choice you make.