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  5. How close is Dutch to Norwegi…


How close is Dutch to Norwegian?

How similar are the two and how hard would it be to learn Dutch after having a firm grip on Norwegian?

February 4, 2017



There are definite similarities, but the two are in different branches of Germanic languages. Dutch is a West Germanic language between German and English (along with Frisian and Scots) whereas Norwegian is a North Germanic language (along with Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese). That being said, English became so thoroughly francized after the Norman conquest that most of the vocabulary is from Latin or French. This is not the case for Dutch or Norwegian, which are both still mostly Germanic (though certainly greatly different than they were 1000 years ago). Therefore, you will tend to find more cognates and similarities between the other Germanic languages than between English and German, etc.

I might also add that both of these languages have much in common with English, so neither is really all that hard to learn. Norwegian shares a lot of grammar rules and over simplicity (lack of conjugation, simple declension, etc.) with English while Dutch shares more vocabulary. E.g. "It is a good house" in Dutch is Het is een goed huis, where each word is a cognate with the English counterpart. On the other hand, sentence order is often different: "I want to eat soup" is Ik wil soep eten; but in Norwegian the order is the same: jeg vil spise suppe. An example of a word that is cognate in Norwegian/Dutch but different in English is dog: hund/hond respectively (though it is cognate with "hound").

So, in conclusion, Norwegian will probably help with learning Dutch since it gives you a deeper store of Germanic vocabulary and grammar than English does, but it will be fairly easy either way because of its similarity to English.


Norwegian verbs are conjugated. The fact that verb forms don't vary with person and number just means that the conjugation is pretty easy to learn. But you still have to learn "you usually add 'r' to get the present tense".


Yes, and they also have some conjugation for past/future, but compared to most languages (even to English), Norwegian has almost no conjugation. In English we at least have "am/are/is," "have/has," and "want to/wants to," etc. in the present tense. In Norwegian, it's just er, har, and vil, with the only variation being for the infinitive, imperative, etc.


That's one way of looking at it, but here's another ...

All the forms of "play" in English: play, plays, played, playing.

All the forms of "spille" in Bokmål (according to wiktionary): spille, spill, spiller, spilles, spilte, spilt, spillende. Nearly twice as many.


Yes, but then there's am, are, is, was, were, will be, being, have been, has been, will have been, aren't, weren't, won't be - and that's not even factoring more irregular dialectical forms like amn't. Granted, Norwegian has more conjugation in the other tenses following these same rules, but in present active tense English is certainly more complex (though nothing compared to Latin or, even moreso, Finnish).


good points, but linguists suggest english started as west germanic then merged with north germanic and the west sort of died off within that. dr katie lowe, the adventure of english says old norse affects english more than any other language. some say today, a prof at university of oslo actually, lays out that modern english is in fact, a scandinavian language. others ask if england is actually part of scandinavia in mainstream english press articles. it did use dto be, many danish kings, cnut's anglo-scandinavian empire.

post 1066 was just bringing in mainly vocab from french and latin, not really structure. unless you have a dutch boyfriend or dutch heritage, you may want to ask yourself if it's worth learning. have you been to the netherlands? do you have a desire to go? have you ever been surrounded by the dutch language 24/7? i've been several times and it's a great country, but the language isn't so cool. it grows on you, yes, but it doesn't resonate with me the way danish and norwegian do, but that's me.


many danish kings

http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/danish_kings.html says there have been four (the first reigning for only five weeks).


Thanks for the awesome reply. (: I thought Norwegian was closer to Danish, etc. but I'm glad that it seems it won't be too difficult to learn after/alongside Norwegian.


No, Norwegian IS closer to Danish. Much closer. They are basically the same language pronounced differently with slightly different spelling.


Should one try to learn two languages at the same time? Let's say Dutch and take up Swedish?


Is it wise for one to take up two languages at the same time, say Dutch and Swedish? I welcome anyone's advice? And thanks. Danke u wel.


The more similar they are, the more confusing it will be. So, generally, it is not advised to take two Germanic languages at the same time. That being said, it's not near as confusing as taking Swedish and Norwegian at the same time (or Dutch and German). I would recommend at least gaining a firm foundation in one before starting the other, and it's best to finish with Dutch in your example before starting Swedish.


I think they are not too far away. you could do it I'm sure


Just give it a try ! I am learning Norwegian now, and I can use many words from english, german en dutch ( I am dutch ).


i’m dutch and am currently learning norwegian. when i was learning norwegian words my friends would always try to guess what it menat and understood quite a bit. i also think the construction of sentences is pretty similar, although constructions of dutch sentences are a bit more confusing. i think if you’re truly interested in the language it won’t be that hard and also dutch is an awesome language! if you wanna ask any more questions feel free to answer to this post or message me on instagram if you want to! (@x.ilsev)

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