Norwegian vs. Swedish

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Jerry Green

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May 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/7/96
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Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
States?

Thank you!

Jerry


Kurt Swanson

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May 7, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/7/96
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Depending on who's speaking and who's listening anywhere from 50-99%
will be understood. It's more than the accent, but not much more.
What makes a language is a political thing, and in the grand scheme of
things, they are the same language (run for cover! ... certain
"languages" have dialects even less close than Norwegian & Swedish).
It goes well beyond the level of British & American English though.
Maybe a closer example you might be familiar with would be Jamaican &
British or American English. It sounds quite a bit different, and the
grammar isn't exactly the same, but most of the words are.

With Norway it's a bit special as there isn't but one "Norwegian".
Where one is in Norway makes a good deal of difference. In Voss I
made a girl speak English with me (though she had no trouble with my
Swedish). At a bar in Narvik I could nearly believe these two chicks
I was talking with were Swedish themselves, if it weren't for the fact
that they looked like they worked at the Iron Works...

(It would have been a wonderful evening, had the vice-grips held out...)
--
Kurt Swanson, Department of Computer Science, Lund University.
Kurt.S...@dna.lth.se (http://www.dna.lth.se/home/kurt/)

Sturle Fladmark

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May 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/8/96
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The languages are quite similar. Many norwegians understand
swedish perfectly. They have access to swedish television.
mvh
sef.

Erik Robertson

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May 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/8/96
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jgre...@ix.netcom.com (Jerry Green) wrote:

>Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
>each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
>have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
>as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
>States?

Well, for comparisons sake, let's say:
English spoken by a Scotsman with English spoken by a Southerner, with
the gratest differences imaginable used in accent, vocabulary and
grammar. (No offence meant to ANYONE.)

The Nordic FAQ will tell you lots, and facts, too.

Erik.

--
erik.ro...@forenademjuk.se


Kenneth Nielsen

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May 8, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/8/96
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Jerry Green (jgre...@ix.netcom.com) wrote:
: Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
: each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
: have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
: as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
: States?

: Thank you!

: Jerry

It's true that Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other. This goes for
Danes and Norwegians and Danes and Swedes too - if you give it a try. Yet, on
TV there are always subtitles when a persom from one of the two other countries are talking.

Norwegian and Swedish are two different languages and not just dialects, even
there are many similarities between Norwegian and Swedish (and Danish). There
are dialects however and people from Skaane (Scania) in southern Sweden and
people from Finnmark in northern Norway would probably have dufficulties
understanding each other if they spaek with a heavy dialect.

In south and west Norway the pronouncaiton af 'r' is hard like in Danish or
German. So it is in Skaane (due to the fact that Skaane was Danish until
1658). Persons from south/west Norway are often beleived to come from Skaane.
In Oestlandet, i.e east Norway, spoken Norwegian is much like Swedish
(except Skaane) - or you could say that Swedish is much like Norwegian. Danes
in general have problems hearing if a person is Norwegian or Swedish.

Written Norwegian is almost like Danish since Norway was in a union with
Denmark from 1398 to 1814. After the reformation in 1537 all Bibles were
printedin Danish (in stead of Latin) and priests were educated in Denmark,
many were in fact Danes. Later people were taught to write Danish.

Later (the beginning of this century and on) there has been modifications in
Norwegian to make it more Norwegian, but the differences mainly consist of
usin 'pp' when Danish uses 'p' in the end of words, e.g 'opp' vs. 'op' (=up),
'hopp' vs. 'hop' etc. Also Norwegian often uses 't' in stead of 'd', 'k' in
sted of 'g' and 'p' in stead of 'b'. For instance: 'flat' vs. 'flad', 'mat'
vs. 'mad' (=food), 'tak' vs. 'tag' (=roof), 'bok' vs. 'bog' (=book), 'tap'
vs. 'tab' (=loss) and 'dyp' vs. 'dyb' (=deep). Then of course there are some
words that are special Norwegian and a few also mean something different.
For instance 'rar' means strange in Norwegian but nice in Danish and 'grine'
means cry in Norwegian but laugh in Danish.

Now, there also is another Norewgian called Nynorsk (=new Norwegian) that was
'constructed' by Ivar Aasen in the 1860'ies, after he had travelled most of
southern Norway (up to mid Nordland) to record the dialects. This is a
more 'genuine' Norwegian and is somewhat different from standard Norewgian
(Bokmaal) but is only spoken by some 10 % of the population. Most Swedes and
Danes won't understand Nynorsk.

Written Swedish on the other hand is different from Norwegian. The most
obvious difference are the letters 'ae' and 'oe' (o dash) which the Swedes
write like in German as an a with two dots over it and as an o with two dots
over it. Most words are basically the same in Swedish and Norwegain but might
be written in another way like 'varfo:r' (S) and 'hvorfor' (N) (=why),
'undrar'(S) and 'undrer' (N) (=wonder), 'undantaken' (S) and 'unntatt'
(=except) etc. The most frequent differences are aesy to laern so there should
not be any big problems understanding each other.

Kenneth Nielsen
c93...@student.dtu.dk

Jyrki Nuotio

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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jgre...@ix.netcom.com,wrote:

<Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
<each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
<have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
<as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
<States?

Surely they are able to do that. Even non-native Swedish speakers can
understand Norwegian no matter whether it is spoken or written.
- jyrki

Foundation for Health Services Research

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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ku...@dna.lth.se (Kurt Swanson) wrote:

>With Norway it's a bit special as there isn't but one "Norwegian".
>Where one is in Norway makes a good deal of difference. In Voss I
>made a girl speak English with me (though she had no trouble with my
>Swedish). At a bar in Narvik I could nearly believe these two chicks
>I was talking with were Swedish themselves, if it weren't for the fact
>that they looked like they worked at the Iron Works...
>
>(It would have been a wonderful evening, had the vice-grips held out...)

May I suggest that Kurt finally found the secunda Swedes everybody has been
writing about? Any comments from Narvikværingar?

After a quick visit to Sweden six years ago, I am finally today able to
report that the vice versa is true with regard to being a bit special. The
speach in the Lund-Sjöbo area is awfully hard to understand for a
well-mannered Norwegian. I have several hundreds of km with magnetophonic
tapes to remind me of this.

It was an unfortunate waste of tape just to prove that point. But such is
science.

Arne

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arne Kolstad e-mail: hel...@oslonett.no
Scientific Researcher Telephone: +47 67929458
Foundation for Health Services Research Fax: +47 67929469

Gunnar Blix

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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Jyrki_...@online.tietokone.fi (Jyrki Nuotio) writes:

Hmmm... I beg to differ. I've had a fair amount of experience trying
to converse with American students who had taken a couple of semesters
of Swedish, and without serious efforts on my part to change my
vocabulary to be more Swedish, it was just really frustrating. And
these students were actually pretty good at understanding Swedish.

On the other hand, most native Swedes will understand most Norwegian
dialects without too much trouble. I think this is in part due to
television making us more aware of the differences, and in part due to
more exposure.


--
Gunnar Blix bl...@cs.uiuc.edu
University of Illinois http://www-ilg.ai.uiuc.edu/~blix/

Nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it. -- Cicero

Johan Olofsson

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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Hello Jerry.


07 May 96 17:47, Jerry Green wrote:

JG> Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
JG> each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
JG> have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
JG> as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
JG> States?

Danish and Swedish are classified as East-Scandinavian languages, Norwegian (as
well as the languages spoken on Iceland and the Faeroes) is West-Scandinavian.

BUT!

Iceland has been isolated out there in the ocean for ages, and its inhabitants
have remained nearly as isolated as the island itself. Hence their language has
developed in a slower velocity than the languages in Scandinavia, which have
been suffering under the pressure from low-German, Finnish, Sami languages,
French, Latin and English. To complicate the situation further the Danes once
upon a time tried to take over all of the world - almost - conquering the old
Norwegian kingdom, Germany, parts of the Baltic states of today, the islands in
the Baltics, and actually also Sweden for some hundred years. Four hundred
years later, after the Napoleon wars in Europe the great powers passed Norway
to Sweden as a compensation for the Russians capture of Finland. This eastern
dominance over the western nations came however only to last for some hundred
years. Then Sweden let Norway go, and Russia let Finland go, and then we could
start the game again.
Subsequently the East-Scandinavian Danish have influented the Norwegians that
much that one of their two written languages looks precisely as Danish, and as
a consequence Norwegians understand East-Scandinavian languages much better
than the East-Scandinavians themselves. As an example of this latter statement,
which could seem slightly confusing for the layman, it's enough to combine a
native Swedish-speaker from the eastern coast of the Bothnic Bay and a native
Danish-speaker from Schleswig - they won't understand each other more than a
dog and a cat. Actually, it's enough to move a Dane from its maze to the maze
of an ordinary Swede, and the experiment will show that unless there is a
Norwegian or Bornholmian translator present the Swede won't play with the Dane.

You see, it's only Norwegians who are understood by the other Scandinavians.
It must be due to their higher general language capability, exercised during
long centuries under foreign rulers, which is shown among other things in their
multitude of languages and dialects, which they learn to identify and
comprehend - and sometimes also to imitate.
As grown ups they also imitates the Danes and the Swedes.

regards!

Johan

--
e-mail: johan.o...@magnus.ct.se
s-mail: Majeldsvägen 8a, 582 63 Linköping

Rolf Manne

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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johan.o...@magnus.ct.se (Johan Olofsson) wrote:


>Danish and Swedish are classified as East-Scandinavian languages, Norwegian (as
>well as the languages spoken on Iceland and the Faeroes) is West-Scandinavian.

In my understanding this classification has only historical interest.
To my knowledge, the dividing line between east and west was not the
national border but the mountain ridge (Langfjella in present
Norwegian usage). There is a dialect continuum between West Swedish
and East Norwegian. The difference between East and West Norwegian can
supposedly be documented at least back to 1000 AD.

As a Swede coming to Norway as an adult in 1972 I had initial problems
of understanding some West Norwegian dialects (Jæren,
"gate-Stavangersk", Ytre Sogn etc.) spoken at the lunch table at the
institute where I work. On the other hand, I have had few such
problems with people from the urban regions of Eastern Norway who
speak what some might call "standard Norwegian" (there is no such
standard). That language is phonetically very close to Swedish
although the vocabulary shows the Danish influence.

Rolf Manne

Kurt Swanson

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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Foundation for Health Services Research <hel...@sn.no> writes:
>After a quick visit to Sweden six years ago, I am finally today able to
>report that the vice versa is true with regard to being a bit special. The
>speach in the Lund-Sjöbo area is awfully hard to understand for a
>well-mannered Norwegian.

???

Ok, in Sjöbo I wouldn't expect anyone but a true xenophobe to
understand the speech. But in Lund proper, being an international/
university town, the speech is quite nondescript. I find it hard to
believe that even Norwegians who chew with their mouths open couldn't
understand.

Foundation for Health Services Research

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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ku...@dna.lth.se (Kurt Swanson) wrote:

>???
>
>Ok, in Sjöbo I wouldn't expect anyone but a true xenophobe to
>understand the speech. But in Lund proper, being an international/
>university town, the speech is quite nondescript. I find it hard to
>believe that even Norwegians who chew with their mouths open couldn't
>understand.

Chew with mouth open .. just the thought of it makes me blush. I mentioned
Lund just to say something interesting. The serious point is that Sweden
have some quite difficult dialects (phobes or not). Hard to quantify, but I
am not so certain whether it is Norway or Sweden that has more variation in
hard-for-others-to-understand dialects.

Arne

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arne Kolstad e-mail: hel...@oslonett.no
Scientific Researcher Telephone: +47 67929458

Foundation for Health Services Research Fax: +47 67929469

Jari Oksanen

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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In article <4mvg7f$e...@hasle.sn.no> Foundation for Health Services Research <hel...@sn.no> writes:
>ku...@dna.lth.se (Kurt Swanson) wrote:

>>???
>>
>>Ok, in Sjöbo I wouldn't expect anyone but a true xenophobe to
>>understand the speech. But in Lund proper, being an international/
>>university town, the speech is quite nondescript. I find it hard to
>>believe that even Norwegians who chew with their mouths open couldn't
>>understand.

>Chew with mouth open .. just the thought of it makes me blush. I mentioned
>Lund just to say something interesting. The serious point is that Sweden
>have some quite difficult dialects (phobes or not). Hard to quantify, but I
>am not so certain whether it is Norway or Sweden that has more variation in
>hard-for-others-to-understand dialects.

As a young student I attended a Nordic course in Lund. When I listened to a
discussion with a Scanian lecturer and a North Norwegian student, I had to ask
a Stockholmite whether they are speaking Swedish or Noregian. He said only
that he understands why I asked. Still I must say that some Norwegian dialects
are hard, even harder than Scanian. From the bigger cities, Stavanger somehow
pops up to my mind just now. Moreover, it seems to be a popular campfire
entertainment here to test whether other Norwegian students understand what
some person says in her own dialect. They are good in finding phrases that no
other Norwegian understands. At that stage I usually find something more
interesting to do.

--- Jari Oksanen Tromssa, Ruija / Romsa, Norga / Tromsř, Norge


Bob Jacobson

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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I love both languages, although I'm fairly illiterate in each. "Goddag"
about sums it up. I blunder completely in Danish, which has such a
different phonetical system from English.

My experience while on a year-long research stay in Scandinavia was that
my colleagues in each nation preferred to speak with each other in
English rather than struggle with misinterpretations attendant on
one working through the other's language. This is what they told me. Of
course, being present and an English speaker, I may have swayed their
preferences.

Bob

Eugene Holman

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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In article <4mnrbk$1...@dfw-ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, jgre...@ix.netcom.com
(Jerry Green) wrote:

> Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of

> each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I

> have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such

> as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the

> States?
>
> Thank you!
>
> Jerry

The late Einar Haugen, one of the leading authorities on the Scandinavian
angauges, once characterized Norwegian as 'Danish spoken with a Swedish
accent'. The essential difference between the three Scandinavian languages
is that Danish and (Bokmål) Norwegian have a long history of shared
culture and vocabulary which Swedish lacks, while Norwegian and Swedish
have many shared features of pronunciation, which Danish lacks. Actually,
the truth is somewhat more complex, since Norwegian and Danish have
radically simplified their pronunciation and grammar in a way that Swedish
has not, but the pronunciation of Danish has subsequently been influenced
bythat of German, while Sweish and Norwegian have not.

Here are some of the most salient differences in tabular form (note, only
the 'standard' forms of the languages are being dealt with here. The
spoken local forms of the three Scandinavian languages actually form a
continuun with no really sharp breaks; the three standard languages are
relatively recent cultural artifacts imposed 'from above':

Danish Norwegian Swedish
1. Pitch accent NO YES YES
2. Glottal stop ('stød') YES NO NO
3. Reduction of unstressed YES YES NO
vowels
4. Retroflex consonants NO YES YES
5. Retention of Old Norse NO YES NO
diphthons au, ei, öy
6. Voicing of voicelss stops YES NO NO
7. Long stressed syllable rule NO YES YES

Examples:
1. Danish *jeg taler* 'I speak' has a heavy stress accent on the *tal*,
the second syllable is pronounced in distinctly with a reduced vowel; its
Norwegian analogue, *jeg snakker* [the verb would mean 'chat, banter'
rather than 'speak' in Danish and Swedish, as well as Swedish, *jag talar*
have less stress on the first syllble, with the second syllable being
pronounced distinctly and at a higher pitch than the first syllbale, this
dispite their being unstressed.

2. Danish *hund* 'dog' is pronounced [hun?], with the stop articulation
replaced by a 'creaky voice', conventionally indicated by a glottal stop
sign in phonetic transcription. The corresponding word in Swedish and
Norwegian has the stop pronounced and no creaky voice.

3. Compare Danish/Norwegian *kvinden/kvinnen* with Swedish *kvinnan* 'the
woman'. Swedish regularly distinguishes between *o*, *a*, and *e* in
unstressed syllables, Norwegian and danish have reduced these contrasting
vowel qualities to shwa, spelled *e*.

4. Most types of Swedish and Norwegian pronounce the combinations /rt/,
/rd/, /rn/, and /rl/ as retroflex consonants (articulated with the
underside of the tongue touching the front of the hard palate. Danish does
not do this, for which reason words like *kort* 'short', *hård* 'hard',
*barn* 'child, and *karl* 'fellow' sound quite different in Danish than
they do in Norwegian or Swedish.

5. Norwegian retains the Old Norse diphthongs in words like *laupe* 'to
run', *bein* 'leg', *høyra* 'to hear', compare Danish/Swedish løbe/löpa,
ben/ben, høre/höra.

6. Danish has gone a long way towards voicing older voiceless stops and
fricativizing older voiced ones:
Danish bog 'book, cf. N/S bok
Danish sidde 'sit', cf. N/S sitte/sitta
Danish skov 'forest', cf. skog

7. Norwegian and Swedish have preserved the long syllable rule. According
to this, all stressed syllables are phonologically long, containing either
a long vowel or a long consonant: Swedish *man*, Norwegian *mann* =
['mann]; Danish *mand* = [man?] 'man'; Swedish *bita* = ['biita]/Norwegian
*bite* ['biit@]; Danish *bide* ['bi @] '(to) bite' ( = voiced dental
fricative, @ = shwa).

Overall, the combination of these phonological features makes spoken
Danish rather difficult (indistinct) for Swedes and Norwegians until they
have hade some practice; to a dane, on the other hand, spoken Norwegian,
and particularly spoken Swedish, sound over articulated and somewhat
archaic.


The reduction of unstressed vowels has resulted in the obliteration of
several older contrasts:

jeg elsker jeg elsker jag älskar 'I love'
jeg køber jeg kjøber jak köper 'I buy'
tændstikker fyrstikker tändskickor 'matches'
pengene pengerne pengarna 'the money'
cigaretter sigaretter cigaretter 'cigarettes'

Swedish conjugates some verbs with -ar, others with -er, Danish and
Norwegian have reduced this to -er; some Swedish nouns have their plurals
in -or, others in -ar, others in -er, Danish and Norwegian have eliminated
the contrast between the vowels, while Danish has gone even further and
gone further than either of its two sister langauges towards using -e as a
universal plural marker.

In their lexicon Danish and Norwegian usually share words similar or
identical in form and meaning, with Swedish being the odd man out:

billed billed tavla 'picture'
jernbane jernbane järnväg 'railway'
lomme lomme ficka 'pocket'
uge uke vecka 'week'
værelse værelse rum 'room'

Sometimes the same word has evolved somewhat different meanings:
Danish/Norwegian *rolig* means 'peaceful, tranquil', but 'pleasant,
amusing' in Swedish. Thus, to continue the comparison made by Einar
Haugen, a Norwegian can almost always understand the words spoken by a
Swede, but he might be unsure about what they mean. On the other hand, he
might have more difficulty understanding the words spoken by a Dane, but
he could be pretty sure he understands what they mean.

Finally, a few examples of the differences:

Danish: Hvad heder dette sted? Her er meget smuk, er her ikke?
[va 'hed@ 'det@ 'ste 'heR e@ mai@t smuk, e@ heR ig@]

Norwegian: Hvad heter dette stedet? Her er meget pent, ikke sant?
[va 'heet@r 'dett@ 'steed@ 'heer er `´meeg@t 'pennt, `´ikk@ 'sannt]

Swedish: Vad heter det här stället? Det är mycket vackert, är det inte?
[vad 'heeter de 'hæær 'stællet De ær `´mykket `´vakkeT, ær de `´inte]

'What's the name of this place? It's very beuatiful, isn't it?'

Even if some of the words appear to differ from language to language,
almost all of them are found in all the other languages, often with a
slight difference in style, nuance, or meaning, e.g. Danish *smyk*
'pretty' corresponds to Swedish *smycke* 'ornament, adornment'. Native
speakers of one of the three would have little trouble dealing with the
written versions in the other languages. Norwegian, as the sentence shows,
is closer to Danish in grammar and lexicon (e.g. the demonstrative *dette*
'this' rather than the compound 'det här' or Swedish, negation with *ikke*
rather thanwith *inte* in Swedish (the Swedish equivalent *icke* is only
used in formal style), Norwegian pronunciation, on the other hand, is
closer to that of Swedish, and would be much easier for a Swede to
understand than would that of a Dane.

Regards,
Eugene Holman

John Magne Trane

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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In article <4mq0sj$c...@unidhp.uni-c.dk>, c93...@srv4.gbar.dtu.dk (Kenneth Nielsen) writes:
|> It's true that Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other. This goes for
|> Danes and Norwegians and Danes and Swedes too - if you give it a try. Yet, on
|> TV there are always subtitles when a persom from one of the two other countries are talking.
Not always. We have Swedes working on both TV and radio and they're not subtitled.
English is sometimes not subtitled, either.

|> Now, there also is another Norewgian called Nynorsk (=new Norwegian) that was
|> 'constructed' by Ivar Aasen in the 1860'ies, after he had travelled most of
|> southern Norway (up to mid Nordland) to record the dialects. This is a
|> more 'genuine' Norwegian and is somewhat different from standard Norewgian
|> (Bokmaal) but is only spoken by some 10 % of the population. Most Swedes and
|> Danes won't understand Nynorsk.

A written language spoken by 10% ? 16-17% of pupils use nynorsk. If we were to
quantify how many were speaking more closely to one or the other of the written
norms, my guess would be that half the population, if not more "spoke" nynorsk.

Didn't Aasen also get as far north as Tromsoe? But more importantly, did
Shakespeare's trip to North Norway influence the English language? ;)

__ John Magne Trane
[]_.-' (Q_,._ joh...@stud.cs.uit.no
`(*)[27]___(*)Z>

8<largely snipped>8
|> Kenneth Nielsen
|> c93...@student.dtu.dk

jaa...@cc.helsinki.fi

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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In article <4mpgdu$b...@mn5.swip.net>, erik.ro...@forenademjuk.se (Erik Robertson) writes:
> jgre...@ix.netcom.com (Jerry Green) wrote:
>
>>Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
>>each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
>>have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
>>as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
>>States?
>
> Well, for comparisons sake, let's say:
> English spoken by a Scotsman with English spoken by a Southerner, with
> the gratest differences imaginable used in accent, vocabulary and
> grammar. (No offence meant to ANYONE.)
>
> The Nordic FAQ will tell you lots, and facts, too.

I, as most finns, living in a bilingual country, had to study swedish at
school. Finnish swedish is a bit different from swedish sweden
(rikssvenska). When I visited Oslo, I was very well understood and
everyone I spoke with responded to me in understandable swedish.

The same can not be said abou danish: I said to a danish taxi driver
that I wantt to do to Kungsgatan tjugo; he said tyve, I said what, he
said tyve, I said twenty and off we go... afterwards I bought a danish
vocabulary which told me that 20 in danish is tyve..
--
Juhani Jaakola, jaa...@cc.helsinki.fi

Nils Ek

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May 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/13/96
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In article <4mnrbk$1...@dfw-ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, jgre...@ix.netcom.com (Jerry Green) writes:
|> Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
|> each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
|> have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
|> as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
|> States?

--
I've had a lot of people ask me how come I can converse with my Norwegian
friends. It's not just like a different accent, as in US vs UK. It's that
and a lot more: different grammar + different vocabulary. Different enough to
frustrate instant communication, but similar enough to pick up quicker than
a non-nordic, who must learn from scratch (more or less). Personally I think
the differences between the nordic languages (and their respective dialects)
have no real equivalent in the English-speaking world, except maybe the speech
of Jamaica, which I've heard spoken a fair bit, but cannot comprehend.
(I sometimes wonder if those guys were exaggerating their way of talking just
to frustrate me! :=) If you try reading the book, Clockwork Orange, you
might get an idea of how different the languages/dialects are. But the only
sure way to answer the original query, IMHO, is to know one or more of the
nordic tongues, and check it out for oneself.
--
Regards,

Nils Ek

Johan Olofsson

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May 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/13/96
to

Hello John.

11 May 96 15:20, John Magne Trane wrote:

>> It's true that Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other. This
>> goes for Danes and Norwegians and Danes and Swedes too - if you give
>> it a try. Yet, on TV there are always subtitles when a persom from one
>> of the two other countries are talking.

JT> Not always. We have Swedes working on both TV and radio and they're
JT> not subtitled. English is sometimes not subtitled, either.

No, but these Swedes who are employed by Norsk Rigskringkasting, they do
probably believe they are speaking Norwegian - don't you think?

kind regards!

Lars Westergren

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
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Johan Olofsson wrote:

> 07 May 96 17:47, Jerry Green wrote:
>

> JG> Could someone please elaborate on the fact that native speakers of
> JG> each language are somewhat able to understand the other language? I
> JG> have been told that this is possible. Is the difference accent, such
> JG> as the English spoke in the UK contrasted with the English in the
> JG> States?

<Scandinavian history snipped>

> You see, it's only Norwegians who are understood by the other Scandinavians.

In one of my books about linguistics, I read a survey which claimed that Swedish
was the language most easily understood by other Scandinavians when spoken, 2nd
was Norwegian, 3d Danish. I think Swedes were the ones who understood the least,
whenever a foreign language was spoken. (Damn. I guess we are just thick headed).
I have been looking through my books all morning so I could back up my claims
with a reference but I just can't find the damn thing.

> As grown ups they also imitates the Danes and the Swedes.

Uh.. Im surprised this didn't start a flamewar. :-)


Personally, I find Norwegian very easy to understand, and Danish is ok if the
speaker takes it slow.

In answer to the first question in this thread, I quote George Yule's "The study
of language".

<<
The dialect continuum

Another note of caution is required. The drawing of isoglosses and dialect
boundraies is quite useful in establishing a broad view of regional dialects,
but it tends to obscure the fact that, at most dialect boundary areas, one
variety merges into another. <...> As you travel from Holland into Germany,
you will find concentrations of Dutch speakers giving way to areas near the
border where the Dutch dialects and the German dialects are less clearly
differentiated; then, as you travel into Germany, greater concentrations of
distinctly German speakers occur.
A similar situation has been documented as part of what is called the
Scandinavian dialect continuum, which extends across what are usually
considered to be different languages, associated with different countries.
In this view, speakers of Norwegian and Swedish can be considered to be using
different regional dialects of a single language. Someone who is at ease speaking
both Swedish and Norwegian might then be described as bidialectal ('speaking two
dialects'). However, because we are talking about what are normally taken to be
two languages, that speaker would more commonly be described as bilingual.
('Speaking two languages')
>>

Best wishes,
Lars

http://www.geocities.com/colosseum/1154

That which does not kill us, makes us stranger.

Alwyn Thomas

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May 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/21/96
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Rolf Manne wrote:
>
> johan.o...@magnus.ct.se (Johan Olofsson) wrote:
>
> >Danish and Swedish are classified as East-Scandinavian languages, Norwegian (as
> >well as the languages spoken on Iceland and the Faeroes) is West-Scandinavian.
>
> In my understanding this classification has only historical interest.

You're mostly right, of course. The West-Scandinavian character of
West-Norwegian dialects is obscured both by the Danish influence on
Norwegian as a whole and by strong linguistic trends which have
influenced Swedish, Norwegian and Danish equally.

Perhaps the most real distinction today is that between mainland
Scandinavian and the insular Scandinavian of Iceland and the Faeroes,
which is in most respects much more conservative.


Alwyn

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