Is it risky to learn danish, norwegian and swedish at the same time?
Is it a great or terrible idea? Or maybe is it better to have at least an intermediary level in one of the scandinavian languages before trying the others?
Also, how helpful is to know german before learning a scandinavian language?
It's hard to say that it's an outright bad or good idea, but I'd say there is considerable risk of mixing them up.
German is probably one of the best languages to be coming from when learning Scandinavian languages in general and Swedish in particular.
I haven't tried it, but learning them one after the other isn't very helpful either. I learned Swedish at uni and I'm fairly fluent. Now I'm trying to learn Danish using duolingo and I have huge difficulties remembering the differences. I keep using Swedish grammar, Swedish spelling, Swedish words... It's possible that there's no right way to do it... And yes, coming from German makes learning any of these languages quite easy. But I don't think it's too hard to learn them from English either. It's all Germanic, after all...
They're all Germanic, but there are a lot more cognates between German and the Scandinavian language than English. A knowledge of German grammar is also quite helpful, as the North Germanic languages share many similar features with it that English does not.
English may be a Germanic language, but it's lost many of the grammatical features that the others share.
I can't find good numbers for cognates, so I can't comment on that. My impression isn't that there are that many more cognates, but I'm used to Northern English/Scottish accents of English, which might have something to do with it.
I think the grammar is more balanced than that. There are a few features the Scandinavian languages shares with English, some with German, some are intermediate or have other origins.
English doesn't feature gendered nouns, V2 word order (except in a handful of set phrases) or inflection, which are the major grammatical markers of Germanic languages (or a case system, but that doesn't apply to the NG languages either, apart from Icelandic and Faroese).
The only real common ground, grammatically speaking, that I can see between English and these family members is the division of verbs into strong or weak and the simplification of the tense system compared to other Indo-European subgroups.
English shares a lot of word order with the Scandinavian languages, but there's still the V2 hurdle and the changing word order of subordinate clauses, which again does not occur in English.
I admit that English and the Scandinavian languages do share a great deal of cognates, but those cognates are often usually shared with German as well as the ones which are unique between them.
Without more research I couldn't really give an entirely accurate figure, but 22 years of German, five years of Old English, three years of Old Norse, a year of Swedish and some dabbling in Danish and Norwegian have given me a reasonable insight. :)
Does the German gender system really help, when the NG languages have a different system? Yes, you understand the concept of genders, but with that argument, even French or Russian should make it easier ;) On a side note, I've been wondering for a while whether learning genders in foreign languages wouldn't be easier when you're learning from a language that doesn't have them, because the genders of your native language won't throw you off (as an example: Since it's "Der Apfel" in German, I want to use common gender in other Germanic languages, but it's neutral in Swedish, Danish and Dutch. It's one of my favourite mistakes to make in those languages).
You mention that no Scandinavian language has a case system, but you didn't mention that they all have also lost conjugation which German still has. Leaves only adjective inflection by gender and number and definite forms, both of which are reduced in German as compared to Scandinavian languages. But okay, at least they exist.
Word order is definitely one of the things where it's closer to German. Other things include usage of future tense or the extensive system of verb prepositions.
Things Scandinavian languages share with English and not German that you conveniently don't mention include usage of past tense (aspect vs. the purely written/spoken distinction in German), formation of the conditional mood (except a few set expressions), adjective comparison (mixed germanic/romance system).
See, my point is that there are quite a few similarities to English as well. Which is why I called it balanced.
I'm not going to join into a "who has more Germanic language cred" battle. This has gone sufficiently far away from the original question already anyway.
Let me try a compromise then: The best situation for learning Scandinavian languages is if you already know both German and English ;)
Reply depth limit reached, it seems...
Your second-to-last paragraph goes for yourself, too - I acknowledged right there in my second paragraph that you mentioned the case system ;)
I mentioned things they had in common, not things they didn't. That would have been a little obstructive to my point. :)
As for gender, I find that there's no confusion across languages if I memorise nouns and articles as a single unit.
In my very first paragraph I mentioned that the only North Germanic languages to feature a case system were Icelandic and Faroese.
A little less skimming next time, maybe. ;P
The compromise is one I'd be happy to make. Knowing both is considerably more helpful than knowing one.
I prefer to do them all at once. Why not do them all for a while and see how it goes for you? You can always stop doing one or two if you find you are mixing them up.
I've never studied German. The Scandinavian languages seem so much easier than German. I think studying German first would have just made it take longer. If you've already studied German it may help.
German is harsh, but I love it! I really like the Idea of learning multiple languages simultaneously because it fits perfectly in my goals of better knowing germanic languages and scandinavian culture. I appreciate your coment.
If you haven't already done so I would recommend adding some of the official Memrise courses to what you are studying here. The Memrise courses have actual speakers instead of robot voices. I find it helps when trying to distinguish the languages. The duo Norwegian and Swedish courses are great and have the added benefit of native speakers in the forum who are quick to explain the language. It's just nice to also hear the natural voices.
As someone who's currently learning Catalan, Italian & Portuguese from Spanish just because I got tired of hearing about how it wasn't a good idea, I say go for it, see if it works for you.
This multilingual approach definitely fits me because I am pretty relaxed about it. I mean, the one language I am invested in is Catalan but if I fail it's not a big deal? That definitely helps me relax and not stress about potentially mixing things up.
The way I see things? I'm letting my brain do its thing at its own pace. Once I finish the trees I'll do Italian & Portuguese from English with a focus on properly separating the two in my mind.
Kinda makes me wish the Scandinavian languages where available from German, that'd definitely work for me. I'd do the same thing : learning all of them at the same time and then sorting them out by doing the English trees.
As it is I have to focus on Swedish, as I have reached the point where things get more complex & challenging, but damn do I want to learn Norwegian.
Written swedish and written norweigan are extremely similair, and also somewhat written danish (not the speach however). Even if you mix up the spelling somewhat it is often easier to learn all languages together, as is the case with spanish-italian, because you can relate your knowledge between the languages withso helping the learning process. It is saving a lot of time learning them simultanesly.
It doesn't really save any time, as each language needs the same amount of work to learn it to fluency. Your days just tend to be busier learning three languages than learning one. :)
Actually, written Norwegian and written Danish is nearly identical, and written Swedish tends to be more difficult for Norwegians to read. In conversation, however, Norwegians and Swedes find it much easier to understand each other, whereas they both have a difficult time trying to understand Danes due to Danish's... interesting... pronunciation.
There's a joke that Norwegian is just Danish spoken by a Swedish guy.
I spent about five or six years learning each of the Scandinavian languages for a few months at a time, and I would often mix them up. This isn't necessarily a big deal, since they're so similar anyway, people will likely understand what you mean.
We occasionally get reports in the Norwegian course that tell us that "riktig" should be "riktigt" and things like that, which is a mistake learners can get if they've looked at Swedish before. I'd say, do whatever feels right. You may find that after sampling all of the Scandinavian languages, there's one that speaks to you the most, and it would be smart to prioritize that one over the others.
I'm doing all three at once and I don't have a issue. Also, you can learn one set of skills in one languages and test out of the same skill in the other languages.
In opinion yes, i had a similar experience with swedish and german (some words are quite similar) and i confused them lots of time...i don't suggest you to do 3 similar languages, at least choose one and after you will have reached a good level, go on with another one.
About german can be surely helpful since lots of words are similar ( i noticed much more in swedish, less in norwegian and i don't know in danish) and the construction somehow have something in common like the rule of having the verb always in second position....i don't know for the rest, after a while i had to stop because i continued to mix both languages and i had to choose which to go on.
For what i heard, norwegian seems the "easiest" to learn from an english speaker.I would put swedish behind norwegian, pronunciation is surely more difficult than norwegian and irregular plurals can give some problems....danish...danish pronunciation scared me a lot, but i think that danish is more similar to norwegian.
I've heard a lot of people saying that norwegian is the easiest of them. I have an advanced english knowledge and an intermediary german (still learning), good to know that german is convenient, hope it helps me a lot.
If it can help you, norwegian and german phonetic are the same, and then german is surely more difficult than norwegian.If you can handle it without problems, norwegian will be surely a piece of cake xD.
That's an amazing tip for me, because I have a german accent, thanks a lot!
So you are brasilian! A good thing, for us german phonetic is really easy x). Norwegian has some sounds more, but they are not a problem.
A brazilian born and raised in a german city of the south, by german parents. I grew up hearing and speaking more german than portuguese XD.
My advice is to learn one until it feels natural to speak and read it, and then move onto another.
I became conversational in Swedish and thought I'd try my hand at Norwegian, but I kept dropping Norwegian words into conversations with my friend. As hard as you might try, this is something that's going to happen until speaking your chosen language from the three becomes natural to you.
I can give two examples of how it might be tricky.
I know a couple of Danes who've lived here in Sweden for a long time. None of them have learned Swedish properly but instead speak something in between. A couple of them can't really switch back to proper Danish either. Their kids also tend to learn Swedish and never become really good at speaking Danish, though they understand Danish much better on account of being exposed to it more than the average Swede.
I have also tried to learn both Danish and Norwegian myself (I'm a native Swede) and I get them mixed up all the time, especially when it comes to expressions and "faux amis".
Another question is how much it matters. If you just want to understand and be able to communicate with Swedes, Danes and Norwegians it's probably not going to be a big deal if you get things wrong now and then (then again you could just use English for that), but if you want to work or if you're a stickler for getting it right it could be a problem.
Personally, I just became good in Norwegian, and then found I could easily figure out the other two, no problem, just test it out (Danish is easier if you start with Norwegian, and Swedish pronunciation is also easier then as well).