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Response to Diclotican (Reply #6)

Sat Oct 25, 2014, 12:42 PM

7. Diclotican

Thanks for that synopsis of the development of Norwegian. Based on what you wrote, I found this introductory history and course that is offered by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology:

The Norwegian language
Linguistic background

Norwegian belongs to the northern branch of Germanic language along with Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese. Except for small communities of migrants, the language is not spoken outside Norway. Norwegian is particularly close to Swedish and Danish. In general, speakers of the three languages are easily able to understand each other, even though this ability has been deteriorating during the last generation.

By acquiring Danish, Swedish or Norwegian, the speaker can communicate with about 20 million speakers. Today Icelandic and Faeroese are relatively distant from Norwegian and not understandable for Norwegian speakers.

Bokmål - Nynorsk

When describing Norwegian, it is important to distinguish clearly between the written and the spoken language. In writing there are two official norms, Bokmål (literally "Book Language" and Nynorsk (literally "New Norwegian".

Spoken Norwegian in general refers to the different dialects in use. The origin of this situation reflects historical and political affairs that are briefly described below.



It looks interesting. The following post/site is also intriguing, and given time, I'll probably look at it also:

Why Norwegian is the easiest language for English speakers to learn
Thursday, August 14, 2008

A week or so ago I wrote a fairly detailed post on why Persian / Farsi is actually much easier to learn than you think, in that it has a much simpler grammar than languages most people learn in school, and only the writing system gives the impression that it's somehow about as difficult as Arabic, which is more difficult for the average speaker than Persian by leaps and bounds.

Persian is easy in terms of grammar, most Western European languages have the advantage of common vocabulary and recognition. Norwegian happens to have both of these, and in this post I'm going to show why Norwegian is the easiest language for your average English speaker to learn.


North Germanic languages

Now, to Norwegian. First a short introduction. Norwegian (here I'm talking about bokmål, the most often-used variety of Norwegian) is a language spoken by about 5 million people in Norway, and is extremely similar to the languages Swedish and Danish. Its written form is more similar to Danish, but in pronunciation it's more similar to Swedish than Danish. From the Norwegian I've studied as well I have an easier time reading Danish but can't understand it at all, and Swedish is easier to listen to. The three languages are so similar that they are often regarded as a dialect continuum, that is, if there happened to be a single country in place of the three we have today there would probably only exist regional dialects, not thought of as languages. The total population of these languages is about 20 million. Swedish is also an official language in Finland, though certainly not used by the majority.

Lastly, Icelandic is also related to these three, but far more distantly, and it has a much more complex grammar, being more conservative in that it has maintained much the same form over the past nine centuries or so. That's why Icelandic people can still read the old Norse sagas. See the page linguistic purism in Iceland for more information on how this works. Luckily Norwegian does help in understanding Icelandic, certainly more than other languages you could choose to learn (except Faroese, but that's only spoken by 70,000 or so), so Norwegian is a good language to start from if you have a personal interest in them.



What you say about Google Translate applies to German, too. Google Translate is definitely a work-in-progress, but it is nice to have access to it.

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