https://www.duolingo.com/RudyFares

Help needed ! Which Scandinavian language to learn?

Hey all,

I am determined to learn a Scandinavian language as my 5th language. I know that they're close to each other in some cases, but I have no idea for which one to go for: Norwegian, Swedish or Danish ?? I already know English, French, Arabic and learning German.

I have to take into account the following: - How easy the language is (I know there is nothing as "easy language", but easier in pronunciation, grammar...) - How interchangeable it is with other Scandinavian languages, as in which language is the mot "middle ground" language and its speakers are able to understand the other languages?

Any help ?

1 month ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Skidbladner
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Since you don't have any personal reasons to prefer one over the others there are a number of things you should consider:

  • In writing all of them are for the most part mutually understandable. There are a number of 'false friends' that one has to be aware of, but nothing major.

  • Norwegian and Swedish are for the most part mutually understandable when spoken.

  • Danish has more vowels than the others and foreigners usually find the Danish pronunciation the hardest. It started deviating from the others already in the 12th century and it has gotten worse. However, with some exposure it's not hard to learn to make out the different sounds in Danish if you for instance know Swedish, at least as long as the speaker isn't of the mumbling variety. :)

  • Swedish has two grammatical genders, Norwegian has tree.

  • Both languages have regional dialects, but the Swedish ones have become more unified than the Norwegian ones.

  • Since Norwegian is so diverse it has two official written languages that deviate from each other: Nynorsk and Bokmål. Norwegians learn both in school and uses the one that fits their local dialect the best.

  • Since Norwegian is so diverse differences in pronunciation are less of a problem. Speakers of Norwegian are used to a lot of differences. This makes it easier for a foreign speaker.

  • Since Norwegians are used to a lot of variations in pronunciation they find it easier to learn to understand Danish pronunciation.

  • The Norwegian grammar is more complicated than the Swedish, but it's in my opinion not a huge difference.

  • The Norwegian pronunciation is somewhat easier than the Swedish, but again it's not a huge difference.

  • Sweden is a larger country with almost twice the number of speakers. Swedish is also one of the official languages of Finland, that since old has a Swedish speaking minority living along the coastlines. Everyone in Finland is forced to learn some Swedish in school, something that's not too popular by the students. :)

  • You really shouldn't study these languages at the same time. Some may be able to do it, but most people will mix them up horribly. However, if you only want to gain a general understanding of Scandinavian languages I suppose it could be an option...

  • Swedish has been greatly influenced by Low German. If you know German this will give you a much easier time learning the vocabulary. I am bit unsure of Norwegian in this aspect but I think the German influence is quite a bit less. (Danish is also influenced a lot by German.)

  • When it comes to the Duolingo courses I get the impression that the Swedish course have the upper hand when teaching beginners. This is however a bit difficult for me to judge, and the Norwegian course is not in any way bad. The Danish course is a bit peculiar.. :)

  • Some say that Norwegian is a middle option. In some ways this may be true, but it is much closer to Swedish than to Danish. I think that it's mostly the exposure to a lot of different dialects that help the Norwegians understand Danish. Danes will have some difficulties understanding both Norwegian and Swedish.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RudyFares

Thanks for your reply ! Based on what you said (and the fact that i forgot to mention that i have Swedish relatives), i might go for Swedish

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Skidbladner
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Well, a personal connection is in my opinion way more important than anything I mentioned above.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/A.Igor
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Really nice observation :-) Personally I believe that Norwegian is a nice one to start as it's a kind in the middle between Danish and Swedish for me. But as RudyFares has Swedish relatives I also would bet on Swedish.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KiriharaFarsk
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Swedish is the right choice, do it!

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Radhicka
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I'd say go for Norwegian. It's legit the easiest of the three, as far as pronunciation goes. And since all three of them follow the same grammar rules and the words are more or less same with minor differences in spelling and pronunciation, you'll find it so much more easier to pick up swedish and danish as well. Think of it like a buy 1, get 2 deal. :D

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Asa-Fey
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Hej! Nice that you're thinking about learning Swedish, it's a beautiful language (in my personal opinion of course :)) and not too hard to learn either, grammar-wise at least. The pronunciation can be a bit funny, but as Skidbladner has already mentioned, Danish is by far worse^^ So - välkommen! :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RudyFares

Danish is very hard to pronounce indeed ! And that's coming from me, who already speaks fluent french, english and arabic

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Asa-Fey
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That's impressive :) They say that Danish sounds like people talking with a hot potato in their mouths, and sometimes a drunk Swede is mistaken for a Dane ;P After about a year of learning Swedish I can say I understand a fair amount of written Norwegian and Danish, but the spoken language not so much^^

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anetiite

I've heard that norvegian is the main language but I'm learning Swedish and it's great. :) Good luck.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ed.Guimaraes
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If you have Swedish relatives I would say go for Swedish. The population of Sweden is bigger than Norway (10 million vs 5.2 million) so it's easier to find native speakers to practice and it's unified (instead of Norwegian Bokmål and Nynorsk).

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lukrecija2212

I pretty much had the same dilemma. I just wanted a scandinavian language. I am Croatian and speak english, german, italian and a bit of spanish. I dismissed Danish pretty much immediately, because the pronounciation sounded pretty hard so between Swedish and Norwegian, I kind of concluded Norwegian was a bit easier overall so I decided to go with Swedish and then if I learn it well enough, I'd be able to add Norwegian more easily. So that's the plan. Good luck with whatever you choose!

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/poika8
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This is entirely subjective and not historically accurate, but I've always seen Swedish as sort of the "base language" for Scandinavian languages and Norwegian and Danish as odd, morphed versions of it. I'd go with Swedish and once you get the hang of it it should be easy to learn the other two as well if you're still interested. To me Swedish just seems like the most straight forward and simple language to learn out of the three. And it has the most speakers and literature written in it.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Azouras
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You wouldn't happen to be a Swede, would you? ;-)

3 weeks ago
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