Norwegian and Ukrainian are now in beta
Now you can learn Norwegian too – Norway is one of our brother nations and their course is based on the Swedish tree, so it's sure to be a good course. :D
If you've already studied some Swedish, you'll notice many similarities between our languages.
Stort grattis till norska laget!
PS Ukrainian also went into beta today. I'll be sure to study both these, will you join me?
Fun fact: when I was a child, young and foolish and uneducated in matters of culture, history, or geography, the flags of the Nordic countries deceived me. I assumed that Finland was where Sweden is, in order to make sense of how Norway's flag appears to be a combination of Finland's and Denmark's.
Our mnemonic at primary school for not mixing up the flags of Iceland and Norway was to think of Iceland as an island with red hot springs surrounded by blue water and Norway as land mass with blue fjords going across it.
(This was back in the days when our school choir sang the song No Man is an Island, completely oblivious to the fact that "island" should not be pronounced like "Iceland"...)
think of Iceland as an island with red hot springs surrounded by blue water and Norway as land mass with blue fjords going across it
Nice! I independently invented almost the same mnemonics when I was teaching myself not to mix them up (I went for red lava rather than hot springs). Also I imagine the Faroes as having fjords running red with blood during the whale hunt...
It still confuses me. Finland is so strongly white and blue in my mind, it's really hard for me to think of it as red and yellow. I think Finland is one of these countries that has an appropriate flag, white and blue really symbolizes the country so well, just like the Ukrainian flag is a perfect symbol of the Ukraine.
The people of Åland mainly identify themselves as ålänningar... I think this layer of their identity is stronger than their Finnishness. At least the ones I have come across also see themselves as different from Fennoswedes, although that is of course what they are counted as in terms of national statistics.
Red and yellow are used to represent the Swedish language in Finland in other contexts as well, such as for the statutory Swedish Assembly of Finland (Folktinget). The Swedish flag is quite commonly used specifically for the Swedish language in Finnish contexts, but it is at least as awkward as using the US flag for the English language...
I was told the red and yellow were the old colors of Finland and that's where Åland took the red from, but maybe that's not true then. I agree it's odd to have the Swedish flag symbolize Swedish in Finland, but I don't connect red and yellow with Sweden/Swedish either.
If anything, in Sweden red and yellow symbolizes Scania of course.
It seems red and yellow were Finland's colors as a Grand Duchy (although there was no flag as such), and that those colors along with blue and white were the main contenders once the idea of a Finnish nation was beginning to be built back in the 1860s. In the end they had to decide in a hurry because independence had already been proclaimed the previous year. The flag used at the proclamation was a golden lion on a red background with some silverwhite details.
Here are some cool examples of ideas from along the decision process. (Zacharias Topelius suggested the groovy-looking blue and white one with a star in the middle.)
I think I've heard that the "reasonings" for the colours (blue sky and white snow, etc.) have been made up afterwards.
YES! NOW FINNISH NEXT! https://www.facebook.com/groups/DuolingoFinnish/?fref=ts PLEASE LET THEM INITIATE THE COURSE!
The Russian course is well on its way, and already has a large team working on it. We just need to be patient (and practice reading the alphabet, if applicable, so that we're ready to go when it comes later this year -- they will have some lessons on the alphabet, but said somewhere that it would be good to practice it ahead of time anyway).
I personally am eagerly awaiting the Polish course (due in 2017 it seems). I am a fan of retro-computing, specifically the Atari 8-bit computers, and there is a vibrant scene in Poland and Czech. It seems a lot of the websites, software, and documentation is in Polish, though, so this will be useful to know!