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Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

mephili
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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094111.htm

From above: Summary: "Have you considered how easy it is for us Norwegians to learn English?" asks Jan Terje Faarlund, professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo. "Obviously there are many English words that resemble ours. But there is something more: its fundamental structure is strikingly similar to Norwegian. We avoid many of the usual mistakes because the grammar is more or less the same."

2 years ago

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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The reverse is also true to an extent, its easy for English speakers to absorb Scandinavian languages - I found it much easier to complete the Danish and Swedish trees than the Dutch and German ones - even though I had tried to learn German beforehand.

The languages simply feel closer. Although I still struggle to understand any spoken Danish...

I wouldn't go as far as to say they were any reasons to re-categorise English though. English is a peculiar language compared with all the other Germanic languages, which are very much closer to each other than they are to English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/erykzim

Like Norwegian, English is a Germanic language. Old English used to be called Anglo-Saxon, and the Saxons were Germans who settled in England.

After the Norman Conquest a layer of French was added to English, because French was spoken in the law courts and universities of England for a few hundred years.

Words coming from French are considered more technical or sophisticated (like "beverage") and the Saxon words are more plain ("drink"). What sounds more German than "Earth"? It sounds downright earthy. But "terrestrial" seems abstract. These are the two tiers of our language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eikoopmit

There's also the latin "tier", to use the terminology from your last sentence - For instance, "Kingly", "Royal" and "Regal".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Physiker729
Physiker729
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English has always been an odd linguistic example, and while I'm not a trained linguist, I would be interested to read some of the literature supporting the authors' claims, and any "rebuttals" which may also arise.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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Intriguing! I'd tend to agree with chilvence that English is a bit of a peculiar case, but it's fascinating all the same. I suppose English was, after all, heavily influenced by Viking invaders, amongst all the other influences we had.

I will have to do some more Norwegian, I keep getting distracted by Slavic languages, and I've yet to form an opinion of how easy or hard it is.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Physiker729
Physiker729
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Those slavic languages, always getting in the way! ;) There's a gap before Polish happens, so what better time!?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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I've been trying to get my Russian tree in pretty good shape, but I did get one new skill in Norwegian done.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CallumRoy
CallumRoy
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There is such a thing as convergent evolution.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AmareloTiago
AmareloTiago
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Dutch felt awfully similar to English working through the Dutch tree, particularly similar to words I had learned studying Old English.

While the idea is interesting and worth discussing, my initial inclination is to reject the conclusion. I might be able to be convinced but I doubt it. I know that Old Norse was close enough to Old English in the 10th century that the Vikings and Saxons could taunt one another in their native languages at battles with enough of a degree of intelligibility to get their points across. Further, a century or so of on-and-off Viking conquest of varying numbers of the Heptarchy did leave some linguistic artifacts in the modern language, the most notable of which are them and they, replacing words that were closer and easier to confuse with the word he. Most of these Norse artifacts within modern English traveled from north to south and east to west, particularly from Northumbria and East Anglia.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rachael.cr3
rachael.cr3
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Dutch also kind of sounds like English, especially if you're far away and can't quite hear the words. It's really strange to listen to. I was watching a Dutch movie the other day and kept thinking something was "off", but they were just speaking normal Dutch!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelRelly

On a similar note, which language do you think is the easiest to absorb for English speakers? Is it offered on Duo?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pseudocreobotra

I'm not a native English speaker but going by how closely related a language is, Scots should be really easy... If you're looking for a "bigger" language, Dutch is a really good bet too. Same for Afrikaans.

Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are said to be fairly easy for English speakers too (similar to Romance languages). German is also closely related but the grammar seems to be difficult for most English speakers (it's actually very similar to English a few hundred years ago).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buck72
buck72
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Fascinating article. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed read the article. Here's a lingot.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/brittalexiswm

That is interesting! Knowing German and English helped me fly through Swedish in a matter of two weeks. I was surprised how well I knew it, never studying it before Duolingo. I can see why they would say that.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jmonsch

I recommend you have a read of this article. It explains very well how the English language has developed and how other languages have influence it: https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buck72
buck72
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The article was quite interesting and I enjoyed reading it. A lingot for you.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jmonsch

Thanks :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sueefo

Interesting. Thanks for the article.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OmarDeSant
OmarDeSant
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It makes a lot of sense. For me, the Swedish grammar is extremely easy and similar to the one of English, and the vocabulary is not hard knowing both English and German.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danish_27

I Didn't Know That! Thanks For the info.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/qwertylaal
qwertylaal
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Scandinavians "simplified" English, so it would make sense that it has a lot of structure in common with the Scandinavian languages, whereas it has more words and stuff in common with Dutch and German.

2 years ago