Finished Swedish tree--some thoughts!
It's been basically a year since I started this tree, which I started after having finished Danish--and probably took longer than than usual, because I'm simultaneously learning Turkish (quite the difficult learning curve, but I find it very rewarding). And, also, I can say that this is the first tree I've finished that's entirely gold.
Some thoughts: inevitably, I'm going to compare it to Danish, since they're so closely related, and certainly they share enough vocabulary and grammar that I found it an easy language to dive into. However, I did find myself surprised in certain respects. I remember a lot of people here complaining that Danish had a very challenging pronunciation, with Swedish being easier to understand during listening exercises, but I don't think it's this simple! At some point, my brain just "clicked" with Danish, so I don't find it terribly difficult to understand here, and from there, the spelling is very straightforward. Swedish, on the other hand, has a far more complicated phonology--the extra vowels, those "sj" sounds (!)--that I still find myself making more spelling errors than I'd like.
Overall, though, I'm happy I tackled Swedish. I'm going to continue to practice it (just as I still practice Danish), and next, I'm going to do Norwegian, as I want to continue to see how "similar, but different" all these Scandinavian languages are. I'd be absolutely thrilled if Duolingo could add Icelandic someday!
Its grammar is a little bit more complicated than Danish/Norwegian/Swedish. They used to be more similar years years back. If you can learn these 3 you can most definitely learn Icelandic.
As a speaker of both Icelandic and Swedish I can't believe Icelandic would be that much harder to learn. It's harder but not that harder. Icelandic was my first language. I moved to Sweden when I was 7. Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Icelandic are all North Germanic languages.
Danish, Norwegians and Swedish people can understand each other (especially Swe-Nor). The Swedes always joke that the Danes sound like they speak with a hot potato in their mouth. They can't however understand Icelandic. Only pick up a few words and sentences here and there.
An example (See more examples here)
I dont speak Icelandic
- Norwegian: Jeg taler ikke islandsk
- Danish: Jeg taler ikke islandsk
- Swedish: Jag talar icke/inte isländska
- Icelandic: Ég tala ekki íslensku
In conclusion, I think that if you can learn Danish/Norwegian/Swedish without that much hassle you can most definitely learn Icelandic.
A language I think would be much more difficult for an English native is Finnish.
It's been said that Icelandic, from the position of a native English speaker, is a difficult language to learn, even though Danish/Norwegian/Swedish are considered very simple languages to learn for English speakers.
On the other hand, it's also been said that if you have a good foundation in Danish/Norwegian/Swedish, Icelandic isn't all that hard anymore. Simultaneously, Icelandic as a "difficult language for English speakers" also shares that space with languages like Turkish and Vietnamese, and Turkish is already available here, while Vietnamese is on the way.
Practically speaking, I think the only major impediment to Icelandic is that Iceland is a small country, so Duolingo might see other languages as having a higher priority, but I'll definitely be one of the first in line to use an Icelandic course here if they ever decide to move forward with one!
You may be right that its difficult. As I was born in Iceland to an Icelandic father and Swedish mother I've been hearing and speaking them both my whole life. I don't know how hard it might be for e.g. an american that only knows english.
But I definitely think it gets much easier if you know Danish, Norwegian or Swedish.
I hope they do add an Icelandic course in the future. I'd be happy to help.
They say it's because Icelandic is heavy with cases (that don't exist in English), and that it has lots of unfamiliar words and more difficult pronunciation, not to mention that the three grammatical genders and verb conjugation in Icelandic require heavy memorization. I don't think any of this is impossible, but a lot of people are put off by hard work.