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Which Germanic language after German?

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
13 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
elbereth
Triglot
Newbie
United Kingdom
Joined 5327 days ago

22 posts - 23 votes
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Latin

 
 Message 1 of 13
19 November 2009 at 2:54pm | IP Logged 
Does anyone have any ideas about which to study? I know Swedish,Norwegian and Danish are very similar,would learning one be enough for to know all? I cannot think they are that similar,are they? Then there is Dutch too.I think Swedish has tones which may be difficult,but I am not sure which to go for(first).
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Hencke
Tetraglot
Moderator
Spain
Joined 6733 days ago

2340 posts - 2444 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, Finnish, EnglishC2, Spanish
Studies: Mandarin
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 Message 2 of 13
19 November 2009 at 4:34pm | IP Logged 
It depends on what factors you value in those languages. Learning one of the Scandinavian languages to a high level would enable you to understand maybe up to 80 or 90 per cent of the others in writing, and a somewhat lower percentage for listening comprehension. Knowing German beforehand will help too.

While it's true that Swedish does have some specific tonal elements, this is such a peripheral feature that in now way will it be any kind of obstacle or added difficulty for your learning process. It's purely a nicety and not important enough to make any difference for your decision. Besides, some Swedish variants, such as my own (Finland-Swedish), lack those tonal elements completely and it is not an issue at all for our mutual comprehension.
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Gusutafu
Senior Member
Sweden
Joined 5360 days ago

655 posts - 1039 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*

 
 Message 3 of 13
19 November 2009 at 5:17pm | IP Logged 
While Dutch has approximately as many speakers as the Scandinavian languages put together, you would probably enjoy travelling in Scandinavia more than in Holland, at least if you want some peace and quiet. But then again, you can get by fine as a traveller both in Holland and here without the local language anyway.

I've heard that the Dutch girls are as pretty as ours, so that's another tie.

We of course have some splendid literature here, Strindberg, Hamsun, Ibsen (if you're a liberal), Björnson etc. I am completely unfamiliar with Dutch literature, but if on the other hand art is your thing, the choice is of course easy.

If you want to be different, or are interested in history and/or linguistics, you should go for Gothic, Old Norse, Old English or some other old form with some literature written in it. A compromise could be Icelandic, which is not that far off Old Norse, with its tremendous literature.



Edited by Gusutafu on 19 November 2009 at 5:25pm

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minus273
Triglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 5604 days ago

288 posts - 346 votes 
Speaks: Mandarin*, EnglishC2, French
Studies: Ancient Greek, Tibetan

 
 Message 4 of 13
19 November 2009 at 9:45pm | IP Logged 
Gusutafu wrote:
A compromise could be Icelandic, which is not that far off Old Norse, with its tremendous literature.


I second this.

- It's a living language, so you have lotta audio materials.

- Its phonology is very exotic, so if someday you want to learn a minority language on the Indo-Tibetan border, it will help you to grasp the sounds.

- Being close to Old Icelandic, Icelandic feels like the ancestor of the continental Scandinavian languages. Plus, you know German, and the vocabulary of the continental Nordic languages is either etymological (you know 'em by Icelandic) or Low German (you know 'em by German). So it would be very easy for you to speak broken sam-Scandinavian to socialize with the Norwegians...

- It enables you to read a lot of ancient Germanic languages (Old Norse itself, Old English, OHG, MHG...) with the appropriate grammar reference and glossary, being close to them.


Edited by minus273 on 19 November 2009 at 9:49pm

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doviende
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
languagefixatio
Joined 5825 days ago

533 posts - 1245 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Spanish, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Hindi, Swedish, Portuguese

 
 Message 5 of 13
20 November 2009 at 2:00am | IP Logged 
I found it very amusing when an Icelandic friend demonstrated that he could read the Anglo-Saxon version of wikipedia. Icelandic is supposed to be more difficult than Swedish or Dutch in a number of ways, though.

Another option might be Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa, which is a close relative of Dutch. It's supposed to be one of the easiest languages for English-speakers to learn.
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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 6278 days ago

4474 posts - 6726 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 6 of 13
20 November 2009 at 3:58am | IP Logged 
doviende wrote:
I found it very amusing when an Icelandic friend demonstrated that he could read the Anglo-Saxon version of wikipedia. Icelandic is supposed to be more difficult than Swedish or Dutch in a number of ways, though.

Another option might be Afrikaans, spoken in South Africa, which is a close relative of Dutch. It's supposed to be one of the easiest languages for English-speakers to learn.


Afrikaans is quite a bit easier than Icelandic, but it also has less/worse learning material available, to the best of my knowledge.

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Metamucil
Groupie
United States
Joined 5714 days ago

43 posts - 51 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 
 Message 7 of 13
20 November 2009 at 8:11pm | IP Logged 
elbereth wrote:
Does anyone have any ideas about which to study? I know Swedish,Norwegian and Danish are very similar,would learning one be enough for to know all? I cannot think they are that similar,are they? Then there is Dutch too.I think Swedish has tones which may be difficult,but I am not sure which to go for(first).


regarding tones: everything I've ever read about the main Scandinavian languages (Sw,Nor, Dan) is that Danish is the language that's the hardest to pronounce. Written it's more similar to Norwegan considering the history of those countries but the sounds of Danish are the most difficult. At least for native speakers of English. Not sure if this caveat applies to Scandinavians as well but I think it does as spoken Norwegian and Swedish are more similar than say spoken Swedish and Danish. I believe Norwegan is in the middle of the 3, of course then you have Bokmal versus what's spoken and various dialects.

I would be curious to find out if Norwegan has more dialects or variants than Swedish? I mean, if you are a foreigner whose learned one of these languages and is travelling are you more likely to encounter a strange accent or dialect and comprehensions problems in Norway than Sweden? I've heard that there are some very distinct dialects in Norway and therefore more problems for people travelling and trying to use the local language.

Keep in mind there are, per capita, more speakers of German in Danemark because of the common border and shifting of the border in the past. Of course Danish is spoken more widely in places like the Faroe Islands and Greenland. But from a pronounciation standpoint I've heard Danish is the most difficult. There are of course numerous threads about the three main languages on here. Good Luck.
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Gusutafu
Senior Member
Sweden
Joined 5360 days ago

655 posts - 1039 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*

 
 Message 8 of 13
20 November 2009 at 10:13pm | IP Logged 
Metamucil wrote:

regarding tones: everything I've ever read about the main Scandinavian languages (Sw,Nor, Dan) is that Danish is the language that's the hardest to pronounce. Written it's more similar to Norwegan considering the history of those countries but the sounds of Danish are the most difficult. At least for native speakers of English. Not sure if this caveat applies to Scandinavians as well but I think it does as spoken Norwegian and Swedish are more similar than say spoken Swedish and Danish. I believe Norwegan is in the middle of the 3, of course then you have Bokmal versus what's spoken and various dialects.


As every Swede knows, there is a shortcut to acquiring proper Danish pronunciation, just speak with your mouth full of hot potatoes.

It may be easier to get a reasonable Swedish accent, but very few people get anywhere near native prosody, even after 10 years. It is hard for me to judge if this is true in other languages to the same extent, but it does seem extremely difficult for foreigners to imitate the melody. Not that this impedes understanding much, but it can be straining to listen to.

Edited by Gusutafu on 21 November 2009 at 3:25pm



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