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Norwegian and German

Is Norwegian closer to English than German? As a native speaker of English I feel like I'm having an easier time with Norwegian compared to German.

May 28, 2015



It's complicated. English is more closely related to German than to Norwegian from the point of view of historical development, but they've had a lot what you could call convergent evolution. All three have lost a lot of structure compared to their common ancestor, but English and Norwegian have lost a lot more than German, so they've ended up looking similar in many ways.


For me as a native German speaker, Norwegian is a bit closer to German than to English. There are Norwegian words/phrases that have a literal German translation and I sometimes have a hard time translating them to English (what is a good translation of "jo"/"doch"?!). Some words are just similar, e.g. plötzlich = plutselig (sounds like German but only cuter, lol). The word order is also very similar to German. All in all, I have discovered more similarities to German than to English in the Norwegian course so far.


Interesting. I was watching a Norwegian video and for the first time realized that Norwegian actually sounds closer to German than English. It almost sounds a lot like German. They also both have 3 genders unlike English. I feel like written Norwegian doesn’t look similar to German except for a few words so written looks closer to English but overall I believe it is closer to German. I am not totally sure. However, one thing seems clear - German is closer to Norwegian than to English. I think Norwegian is somewhere in the middle between English and German. As a native English speaker I find Norwegian a million times easier than German. The fact that we both find Norsk easier than the other on both ends makes this clear. I already knew that tho.

Before learning Norsk I did not think it was that close to English since English has heavy French influence. But I was surprised to find out that there are many Norwegian words that correspond to French words but NOT to English words. For example the infinite å and à and -er ending in infinitive/present. Advokat - avocat. Elevene - élèves. Just to name a few.


Just a quick correction; "Elevene" should be translated as "Les élèves" instead of simply "élèves".

Remember that in Norwegian, we place the definite article at the very end of a word. In this case "elev" is made definite (and plural) by adding "ene".


Norwegian is easier than German. Norwegian is similar to English, German too, but German grammar is one of the most difficult ones. I recomend you to keep learning Norwegian and German . Spanish is my mother tongue. Learn it as well. I actually speak Spanish, English, some German and learning more in duolingo.


Yea I'm having more fun learning Norwegian, but I'll keep doing a couple of German lessons every day as I have been. I did four years of Spanish in high school, which gave me the equivalent of around level 6 on Duolingo. But all those languages I'm learning casually. For the past few years I've been focusing on Japanese. I wish Duolingo had a Japanese course. (if you see my English level 10, that's because I'm doing the English course for speakers of Japanese).


Do you speak Japanese? what languages are you interested about? I think Japanese is a beautiful language, really difficult. I want to learn it. I expect to learn Norwegian or Swedish, and going to one of those countries. German is awesome and French is a cultural language, then we just need time to learn and practice them.


Yea, I did 4 semesters of Japanese at university and have been continuing classes at the Japanese society in my city for the past two years. One of the best online resources (has some free stuff but it's worth the paid subscription) is www.japanesepod101.com if you are interested in learning.


Norwegian is way easier than German in terms of grammar. The three languages have been formed by different linguistic processes. Norway has lots of winters, hard-to-reach places, "pockets" of people who don't communicate and move around as often as it has been in Germany since before Roman times. Norwegian seems to have lost a lot of the Germanic grammar, but kept a lot more of the vocabulary.

Both German and English seem to be more heavily influenced by latin and romance languages and had contact with slavic speakers, also. English and German formalized their writing a lot earlier, while Norway was left alone for longer. When bokmal and nynorsk was "invented" their had already been centuries of literature in English and German. In English, the writing system actually predates much of the phonological development, which makes the English orthography so much fun...


Apart from getting the articles in their place, Norse and English seem close enough and I'm finding it coming to me more naturally than the German.


As a native German I am actually struggling with the article stuff. It's just that "hunden" and similar words sound so "plural" to my brain, and though I fully understand by now how the Norwegian system works, I still get it wrong when on "autopilot".


I am having the same problem. Oh boy. Granted I have no Germanic background to compare it to, but it intuitively strikes me as a plural form.

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