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  5. "English is not difficult."

"English is not difficult."

Translation:Engelsk er ikke vanskelig.

July 22, 2015



The Norwegian language has had a big influence on the English language. For example words like egg, fellow, law, bag, sister, skirt, steak, window, ill, odd, rotten, weak, call, cast, lift, take, they, their, them. These last three pronouns are actually quite interesting. It is extremely seldom that pronouns from one language are adopted into another, because that means you have to re-arrange the whole grammar of the language. Still, in the English language this happened after a massive influence from the Norwegian languange in the northern parts of England.

A little fun fact: Even the swear word f*ck has its origin from the Norwegian Vikings.


I did a report and presentation about how northern Germanic languages shaped English. It's pretty fascinating when you look into how much English changed due to all of that.


How difficult is English (vocabulary/grammar) for a common Norwegian, considering it’s a very close Germanic language?


Norwegians start learning English at a young age. I'm 31 and back when I was a kid we started learning English when we were 8/9. Now they start when they're 5/6. It helps a lot that we start early.

English is easy for us since the languages are closely related, but also because TV, movies and video games are also very often in English. We are not big on dubbing, just for young kids that can't read yet. I remember that I understood quite a bit of English when I was 7 years old and we had an exchange student visiting. No one had taught me any English then. That was just from watching TV and movies and playing video games.

I have never lived abroad. I learned English from TV, movies and video games and of course at school. Yet I have such a strong American accent that native English speakers ask me where in the US I'm from.

I don't know any non-Germanic languages (recently started learning Spanish though), so I don't have a lot to compare with. I had English and German in school. Both are closely related to Norwegian and easy for us to learn.


This is such an interesting topic to me. Thank you!

Do you speak German as well?


I spoke German at an intermediate level, but I haven't used the language for about 12 years, so I have forgotten most of it. I did the DuoLingo placement test and it placed me at beginner level because I can understand quite a bit of it, but I don't remember the words or grammar when it asked me to make sentences. I remember a lot of the "chants" from school, like "durch für gegen ohne um", but what good does that do when I didn't remember what all the positions do to the words.

I also understand quite a bit of Swedish. I even have a Swedish boss and I talk Norwegian to him and he talks Swedish to me, and I have another Swedish colleague, but when I did the placement test it placed me at beginner level. I did the same with Danish and my mind was obviously a bit more attuned to Danish at that moment, so it placed me at level 8. I can understand almost everything in Danish and Swedish, I just can't talk or write worth a damn. :P

Knowing Norwegian, English and a bit of German also makes me able to understand some written Dutch since this feels like a mixture between the three languages.


I still cannot comprehend Dutch as something related to English or German, but here it is! Thanks again for your detailed answer.

Mutual understanding between Swedish, Norwegian and Danish very much reminds me of the East Slavic trio: Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian (I’m Ukrainian). With Russian being "Swedish", I guess :) since it’s the most widespread.


You can say whole sentences in Dutch that just sound like English with a funny accent.


Russian is the most widespread on the post-Soviet territory, so people often are bilingual (or trilingual). From this point of view, Russian can be considered the lingua franca of Eastern Europe and in some of the Asian countries, which share northern borders with Russia.

But if we’re talking about mutual intelligibility, the Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Bulgarian etc.) are more like the Germanic languages (Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Dutch, German, Swiss German, English etc). Sure, there are some similarities in grammar and vocabulary, but only regional groups have a significant level of mutual intelligibility. For example, Czech and Polish (Western Slavs), also Serbian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Macedonian (Southern Slavs).

As for East Slavs, Ukrainian and Belarusian are more like dialects of the same language, with Ukrainian being more influenced by Polish. Russian is also incredibly close, but it's been historically influenced by non-Slavic languages. Sometimes Russians do not understand Ukrainian and Belarusian fully.

And finally, when it comes to Czech and Russian, the languages are so different that it’s much easier for people to switch to English than pretend there’s some sort of mutual intelligibility.


Out of curiosity, is there one Slavic language which provides the most mutual intelligibility? For the Scandinavian languages, it would be Norwegian. Norwegian and Danish are quite mutually intelligible and Norwegian and Swedish are quite mutually intelligible but Swedish and Danish are more different.


Dutch and especially frisian had a big influence on english because of the great migration. Frisian is even considered the second most related language to english after scottish. Dutch though, is more related to german.


I believe Scottish is just a dialect of English. Now Scots, however, is considered a separate language and it is, in fact, the closest living relative of English. Frisian is second since the Frisian-speaking areas of the Netherlands is where the Anglic peoples came from, if I'm not mistaken. And speaking of, it would be pretty cool if they added Frisian to the list here ^.^

On an unrelated note, I have a friend who's Ukrainian -- I'm having trouble remembering how to spell his last name (first name: Serhiy -- last name sounds like: Verenei, which might actually be how it's spelled xD), and he has an older sister named 'Elena.' Anyway, I just thought it was a neat coincidence. Ha en god dag!



Thank you for the interesting input! I've never encountered Scottish before, but was able to read a short text in Scottish just today. I really like it how languages give us information about history and cultural ties between nations. For instance, just reading an article about Nynorsk and Bokmål gave me a better understanding of the recent history in the Scandinavian countries.

It's nice to know that you have a friend from Ukraine :) And yeah, Elena (or Olena) is a really common name in Ukraine, and I guess, the whole world.


I can only speak for myself, but for me, a person who hate and don't really "get" grammar, it is like this.

When I speak, I feel I have a stronger and more varied vocabulary in Norwegian. But when I write, i'd say my vocabulary is better in English.

But that might simply be because I don't use Norwegian much when I write. And when I do, it is usually an attempt at writing in my dialect.

Grammar-wise, i'm probably just as bad in any language. I rely on "knowing" how to say or write things, what sounds the most natural and "right". Without knowing exactly why and the intricacies behind sentence structures and so on.


Thanks! :)

So, learning and using English for you is not that different from any other foreign language? I feel that "knowing" what’s right in English helps me a lot with Norwegian. And I'm wondering, is it so vice versa?


English has been second nature for me for a long time already, a benefit from learning it so early in life.

I find it harder to learn languages now than it was to learn English as a kid. Mostly because language courses are usually taught with a focus on grammar first, something I feel is backwards, at least for me.

I don't feel like knowing one language helps me with another, unless they are very similar, and the pattern is largely the same. Even then I am better off learning the correct way in the target language.


For Europeans, English may be considered easy, but for those from East Asia for example, it is not that easy. I remember watching an excellent lecture mini series on lingua francas from Darlarna Univeristy which I cant do justice to replicate off the top of my head, showing that English for a non-European is not that easy, given the many constant clusters that are horrendous to pronouce for speakers of East Asain langauges, words can be a pain to spell and pronounce, and it has more vowel sounds than most languages (most have 5), and also its grammar structure that may be familiar for any speaker of a European langauge, but possibly not for a non-European.


I would assume learning to speak English would be rather easy for anyone who speaks a Germanic language, but anyone who says that learning English spelling is easy is delusional. I offer "thought", "through", "thorough", and "rough" as examples. Let's add "choir" to that list just for fun.


Spelling is by far not the hardest part of English. The concept of articles and the Perfect tenses are. Also, some people have difficulties memorizing phrasal verbs. But, unlike other Germanic languages, English doesn’t have cases, grammatical gender (phew...) and corresponding forms of verbs and adjectives, so it’s much easier to compose a sentence and actually start speaking English without this fear to say "et mann".


I can understand your points about perfect tenses and phrasal verbs, but articles? A/an/the? To me that seems about as simple as a linguistic rule can get. But, alas, I'm a native English speaker, so I'm unable to see what's weird or difficult about the language from the perspective of someone learning it as a second tongue.


Probably it's because articles don't provide any additional information for a native Slavic language speaker. At first. Then we usually try to memorize their role by (mentally) replacing "a" with "some" or "one", and "the" with "this".


,,choir,, in Lithuanian my native language sounds very similar - choras :)


to be honest, english can be tricky but can be understood through tough throughout thought, though

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