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Why not just one Scandinavian language?

 Language Learning Forum : Skandinavisk & Nordisk Post Reply
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Impiegato
Triglot
Senior Member
Sweden
bsntranslation.
Joined 3623 days ago

100 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, Italian
Studies: Spanish, French, Russian

 
 Message 33 of 69
06 March 2010 at 4:03pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
jeff_lindqvist wrote:

Creating "Scandiranto" and having us learn it would be just as silly as forcing speakers of the Slavic languages to learn Slovio.

One can always hope that Impegiato's post was a joke.


I think Scandiranto would be brilliant, LOL. It would be as big as Dutch in size. I think. The problem is, our individual languages are simply too small.

With 25-30 million speakers I'd be a lot less concerned about the future.
I'd stop worrying about English taking over for the next hundred years, at least.

But I honestly don't think it's even remotely possible to create a Scandinavian language. People aren't interested enough, and as Jeff says, the situation as it is, is manageable even though I've had some "challenging language moments" in Denmark....

If I had any plans at all of staying in either country for a while, I'd simply cram up on the words that are different.

I really admire Tricoteuse who used to visit here and who learnt to write in perfect Norwegian.

------------------------------------------------------------ ----------

FINALLY: You should hear how people in business sometime speak about Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland here in England. The comment is "yeah, well they're supposed to speak really good English there, so let's not bother translating that... Can't they read in English???   etc, etc."These countries are so small, let's not bother with anything specific for those markets, just give them the English version as it is... ETC. And people in Scandinavia are generally so enamoured by everything "international" that they adapt.

Another problem I come across is Scandinavians who speak English in business situations and make MINOR mistakes, for example, they very often come across as very blunt, bordering on rude, due to not using "please" and "thank you" as much as a native speaker would, plus a few other speech patterns. Also there is confusion about the suitability of certain slang and swearwords can give a bad impression. People use speech abbreviations in written communication etc.

The problem is that the native speaker FORGETS that the other person is from a slightly different culture and is speaking in a foreign language and cannot be quite as precise and nuanced as he would like.

They do not do this out of malice, it just happens.... Scandinavians are big victims of these misunderstandings and I have heard many comments to the extent that various Scandi people are a bit blunt, rude, insensitive etc --- Of course, I realise that it's due to language problems. The person doesn't even know it, and is under the impression that his English is great and everybody understands him. Sadly not quite as well as he imagines.

Tänk på en invandrare eller flykting som talar svenska norska eller danska men med turkisk, persisk, jugoslavisk eller somalisk brytning. Ungefär så ser låter din engelska, från en infödd engelsktalande persons synvinkel! Om en invandrare låter konstig eller ohövlig när han talar ditt språk, hur förstående och hjälpsam är du egentligen, allvarligt talat? Det är samma situation som vi befinner oss i, gentomot infödda engelsktalande personer!


I don't think the example describes the real situation, because Swedish and English are closely related and both are Germanic languages. Swedish and Turkish or Swedish and Serbian, on the other hand, are not similar at all. I have talked to people from England about the Scandinavian accents and they have told me that they are often only minor accents. In London people tend to get used to hundreds of accents, because there are som many nationalities everywhere.

Politeness in tbe language is more common in the UK than in Sweden. They add "excuse me", "sorry", "please" and so on in many sentences where we would have omitted it in Swedish. I think this is the reason why Scandinavians might sometimes be perceived as rude in the UK, not that they are blunt in fact.

About your comment on the number of speakers:

I am convinced that the number of speakers is crucial when someone wants to study a language other than English. Imagine for example an Italian or a French engineer student. The first choice will be English, since it is completely necessary for his or her career. The next choice today will probably be German or Spanish, because they are considered useful. That usefulness is linked to the GDP and number of mother tongue speakers, the status as a lngua franca, how easy it is and so on.

If the Scandinavian languages were mixed and had become a larger language called "Scandinavian", the students from (for instance) France or Italy would consider to study Scandinavian instead of Spanish or German as a third language. In summary, this language would be studied a lot more by foreigners than the case for Swedish, Danish and Norwegian respectively today. It doesn't matter that proficiency in Swedish enables a foreigner to communicate also with Norwegians and to a lesser extent Danes. Then you could also say that knowledge of Slovak makes it possible for you to communicate also with people from Czech republic and Poles. What really matters is how many people you can talk to directly and this determines your decision on language learning, in my opinion.





Edited by Impiegato on 06 March 2010 at 4:10pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4028 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 34 of 69
06 March 2010 at 4:46pm | IP Logged 
Impiegato wrote:

If the Scandinavian languages were mixed and had become a larger language called "Scandinavian", the students from (for instance) France or Italy would consider to study Scandinavian instead of Spanish or German as a third language. In summary, this language would be studied a lot more by foreigners than the case for Swedish, Danish and Norwegian respectively today. It doesn't matter that proficiency in Swedish enables a foreigner to communicate also with Norwegians and to a lesser extent Danes. Then you could also say that knowledge of Slovak makes it possible for you to communicate also with people from Czech republic and Poles. What really matters is how many people you can talk to directly and this determines your decision on language learning, in my opinion.


Exactly!
Even though the whole Yugoslavian language group is really big and much possibly more mutually comprehensible as Scandinavian languages, these are very rare languages for nonp-local people to study. Why_ Because they are split, small languages individually. It confuses people.

Same thing with studying Scandinavian languages. It's a curiosity... Of interest to a few people in the Baltic Sea area and some nature loving Germans who'd like to buy an old cottage in Smålands forests... plus the refugee/immigrant communities in Scandinavia, of course.

In fact I heard that some refugees don't bother learning Swedish because they reckon everyone speaks English anyway, and their main objective for staying in Sweden is obtaining EU citizenship which then allows them to go live in England, which they prefer. The Swedish embassy here in London is fully of such "ex-Swedes" every time I go there, actually. Guess what langugage they communicate with the Swedish embassy staff in?

Our languages could do A LOT better than that!
After all our region has significant tech industries, manufacturing industry oil, natural resources, a very stable political situation and a highly educated labour force. Why shouldn't people want to learn our languages? They would if there were more native speakers!

I support the model of one pan-Scandi language for business/educational use and everyone can speak however they want outside of that.

It's still the same language, just some minor adjustments. People can keep their funny intonation, guttural Rs, slow speech, replacing ä with e ... ETC it would still be completely intelligible across Scandinavia as long as some words + the spelling was standardised. All we'd have to do was memorise a few hundred new nouns and verbs, and learn the new speklling. And everything would be so similar that it could be done in under a week.

Small price to pay to become to become a force to be reckoned with in the EU. (which we are not at the moment).




4 persons have voted this message useful



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4629 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 35 of 69
06 March 2010 at 5:01pm | IP Logged 
OlafP wrote:
cordelia0507 wrote:
Och varför är allt det här på engelska? haha


Jag undrar på det också. Kanske det skulle vara litet ohövlig att fortsätta
den här diskussionen på skandinaviska språken, eftersom den som har börjat
den här tråden talar bara engelska. Men själv skulle jag föredra att läsa
allt det på svenska, norska eller danska.



I'd love if this discussion were simply multilingual. I'm happy to read Scandinavian languages, but I'd rather not assault people's eyes with my attempts to produce them.


cordelia0507 wrote:
Impiegato wrote:

If the Scandinavian languages were mixed and had become a larger language called "Scandinavian", the students from (for instance) France or Italy would consider to study Scandinavian instead of Spanish or German as a third language. In summary, this language would be studied a lot more by foreigners than the case for Swedish, Danish and Norwegian respectively today. It doesn't matter that proficiency in Swedish enables a foreigner to communicate also with Norwegians and to a lesser extent Danes. Then you could also say that knowledge of Slovak makes it possible for you to communicate also with people from Czech republic and Poles. What really matters is how many people you can talk to directly and this determines your decision on language learning, in my opinion.


Exactly!
Even though the whole Yugoslavian language group is really big and much possibly more mutually comprehensible as Scandinavian languages, these are very rare languages for nonp-local people to study. Why_ Because they are split, small languages individually. It confuses people.

Same thing with studying Scandinavian languages. It's a curiosity... Of interest to a few people in the Baltic Sea area and some nature loving Germans who'd like to buy an old cottage in Smålands forests... plus the refugee/immigrant communities in Scandinavia, of course.

In fact I heard that some refugees don't bother learning Swedish because they reckon everyone speaks English anyway, and their main objective for staying in Sweden is obtaining EU citizenship which then allows them to go live in England, which they prefer. The Swedish embassy here in London is fully of such "ex-Swedes" every time I go there, actually. Guess what langugage they communicate with the Swedish embassy staff in?

Our languages could do A LOT better than that!
After all our region has significant tech industries, manufacturing industry oil, natural resources, a very stable political situation and a highly educated labour force. Why shouldn't people want to learn our languages? They would if there were more native speakers!

I support the model of one pan-Scandi language for business/educational use and everyone can speak however they want outside of that.

It's still the same language, just some minor adjustments. People can keep their funny intonation, guttural Rs, slow speech, replacing ä with e ... ETC it would still be completely intelligible across Scandinavia as long as some words + the spelling was standardised. All we'd have to do was memorise a few hundred new nouns and verbs, and learn the new speklling. And everything would be so similar that it could be done in under a week.

Small price to pay to become to become a force to be reckoned with in the EU. (which we are not at the moment).



I think you overestimate the amount of influence that would have. Most people don't study French or German - much less Spanish, Russian, Italian, or Polish. A merged Scandinavian language would attract some speakers, but I honestly doubt it would be all that many. As has been clearly shown elsewhere, a lot of people are put off by artificially merged languages - don't get Basque speakers started on the subject of Batua.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong - the languages I find myself comparing Swedish to are Catalan, Hungarian, Finnish, etc, and the number of speakers of a merged Scandinavian language would be a bit higher. On the other hand, Portugal has 15 million people, and I can't say I see it as influential - and Dutch isn't all that widely studied by people who don't plan to live in the Netherlands, as far as I know.

Simply put, I don't see a future EU having citizens that routinely speak 4 or more languages, and a merged Scandinavian language would certainly not be in the top 3. It would cause a lot of expense and hassle for Scandinavians, but the gain would probably be pretty minimal.


2 persons have voted this message useful



cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4028 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 36 of 69
06 March 2010 at 5:20pm | IP Logged 
Interesting input Volte!
To be honest, I don't think I know the solutions to any of this...

All I know is that once you leave Scandinavia you realise that it barely registers on peoples consciousness in the rest of Europe. I don't want my country to be some insignificant region at the outskirts of the map... And I don't want my language to meet the same fate as Welsh or the many dying languages of Russia (to mention some that I have recent information/experience of...)

I realise that there is no immediate danger to Swedish... But the trends are very clear. Smaller languages under heavy influence by larger languages eventually start dying and it only takes a couple of generations.

Scandinavia has (voluntarily) put itself in a position where there are VERY strong influences from English.

Acording to proven experience from across the world and the law of cause and reaction, the outcome is invevitable. It's just a matter of time.

So I am just speculating, for fun, about what possible counteracting measures can be taken. Sadly however, most people don't see the problem. We are not under occupation and nothing is seriously forced down anyones throat (nobody questions compulsory English in schools or ubiquitous English in media), therefore there is no backlash either. Like I said; people will stand up and notice only when the damage is almost completely done, and near irriversible.

The country of Kazakhstan is a really interesting example: It appears most native Kazakhs prefer to speak Russian in most situations and a lot of them don't even know Kazakh. It took less than two generations to get to that point; they had every opportunity to reverse things during the last two decades, but nothing much has happened. We could be heading down the exact same path.



2 persons have voted this message useful



Impiegato
Triglot
Senior Member
Sweden
bsntranslation.
Joined 3623 days ago

100 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, Italian
Studies: Spanish, French, Russian

 
 Message 37 of 69
06 March 2010 at 6:27pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
OlafP wrote:
cordelia0507 wrote:
Och varför är allt det här på engelska? haha


Jag undrar på det också. Kanske det skulle vara litet ohövlig att fortsätta
den här diskussionen på skandinaviska språken, eftersom den som har börjat
den här tråden talar bara engelska. Men själv skulle jag föredra att läsa
allt det på svenska, norska eller danska.



I'd love if this discussion were simply multilingual. I'm happy to read Scandinavian languages, but I'd rather not assault people's eyes with my attempts to produce them.


cordelia0507 wrote:
Impiegato wrote:

If the Scandinavian languages were mixed and had become a larger language called "Scandinavian", the students from (for instance) France or Italy would consider to study Scandinavian instead of Spanish or German as a third language. In summary, this language would be studied a lot more by foreigners than the case for Swedish, Danish and Norwegian respectively today. It doesn't matter that proficiency in Swedish enables a foreigner to communicate also with Norwegians and to a lesser extent Danes. Then you could also say that knowledge of Slovak makes it possible for you to communicate also with people from Czech republic and Poles. What really matters is how many people you can talk to directly and this determines your decision on language learning, in my opinion.


Exactly!
Even though the whole Yugoslavian language group is really big and much possibly more mutually comprehensible as Scandinavian languages, these are very rare languages for nonp-local people to study. Why_ Because they are split, small languages individually. It confuses people.

Same thing with studying Scandinavian languages. It's a curiosity... Of interest to a few people in the Baltic Sea area and some nature loving Germans who'd like to buy an old cottage in Smålands forests... plus the refugee/immigrant communities in Scandinavia, of course.

In fact I heard that some refugees don't bother learning Swedish because they reckon everyone speaks English anyway, and their main objective for staying in Sweden is obtaining EU citizenship which then allows them to go live in England, which they prefer. The Swedish embassy here in London is fully of such "ex-Swedes" every time I go there, actually. Guess what langugage they communicate with the Swedish embassy staff in?

Our languages could do A LOT better than that!
After all our region has significant tech industries, manufacturing industry oil, natural resources, a very stable political situation and a highly educated labour force. Why shouldn't people want to learn our languages? They would if there were more native speakers!

I support the model of one pan-Scandi language for business/educational use and everyone can speak however they want outside of that.

It's still the same language, just some minor adjustments. People can keep their funny intonation, guttural Rs, slow speech, replacing ä with e ... ETC it would still be completely intelligible across Scandinavia as long as some words + the spelling was standardised. All we'd have to do was memorise a few hundred new nouns and verbs, and learn the new speklling. And everything would be so similar that it could be done in under a week.

Small price to pay to become to become a force to be reckoned with in the EU. (which we are not at the moment).



I think you overestimate the amount of influence that would have. Most people don't study French or German - much less Spanish, Russian, Italian, or Polish. A merged Scandinavian language would attract some speakers, but I honestly doubt it would be all that many. As has been clearly shown elsewhere, a lot of people are put off by artificially merged languages - don't get Basque speakers started on the subject of Batua.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong - the languages I find myself comparing Swedish to are Catalan, Hungarian, Finnish, etc, and the number of speakers of a merged Scandinavian language would be a bit higher. On the other hand, Portugal has 15 million people, and I can't say I see it as influential - and Dutch isn't all that widely studied by people who don't plan to live in the Netherlands, as far as I know.

Simply put, I don't see a future EU having citizens that routinely speak 4 or more languages, and a merged Scandinavian language would certainly not be in the top 3. It would cause a lot of expense and hassle for Scandinavians, but the gain would probably be pretty minimal.



Some of the facts are wrong - the number of Swedish speakers in Europe is more similar to that of Greek, Bulgarian or Portuguese than that of Hungarian or Finnish. Finnish, Norwegian and Danish are a lot smaller than Swedish.

Well, it could be considered a constructed language, but it is a merge of three very similar languages. They are just a little bit more different than Dutch/Flemish or Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. Therefore, one could actually discuss how artificial it would be. Would every combination of languages be artificial? For example, I don't think a mixture of French, Italian and Spanish would be possible, and neither would it be desirable or politically viable.

I agree with you that "Scandinavian" would not be in the top 3, because that would still be English, German and French. However, after these three languages "Scandinavian" could probably, at least in Europe, compete with Polish, Italian, Spanish or Russian for those who are interested in studying in Scandinavian countries or doing business with people from northern Europe.

Edited by Impiegato on 06 March 2010 at 6:30pm

1 person has voted this message useful





jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
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 Message 38 of 69
06 March 2010 at 6:45pm | IP Logged 
I don't think we have to come up with a pan-Scandinavian language to give foreigners less problems deciding which they should learn.

Learn one, and do your best to to get exposed to the other two.

People who are interested in languages will look for this information, skim through web pages in related languages and so on.

The question often arises when talking about the Yugoslavian countries. I'm not stupid. If I want to be able to communicate with people from that region, I'm going to learn one of them, say Serbian, and then pay attention to whatever differences there might be in the neighbouring languages. For me, it's as simple as that.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4629 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 39 of 69
06 March 2010 at 6:45pm | IP Logged 
Impiegato wrote:

Some of the facts are wrong - the number of Swedish speakers in Europe is more similar to that of Greek, Bulgarian or Portuguese than that of Hungarian or Finnish. Finnish, Norwegian and Danish are a lot smaller than Swedish.


I looked up the numbers before writing what I did. I should have made it clearer that I was talking about my subjective opinions of the influence of the languages, not raw number of speakers. On rereading it, I can see that I conveyed this extremely poorly; sorry.

Simply put, I don't see many people studying Dutch or Portuguese, much less Hungarian. Greek and Bulgarian tend not to even cross my mind, unless I'm talking to someone who's enthusiastic about them.

Impiegato wrote:

Well, it could be considered a constructed language, but it is a merge of three very similar languages. They are just a little bit more different than Dutch/Flemish or Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian. Therefore, one could actually discuss how artificial it would be. Would every combination of languages be artificial? For example, I don't think a mixture of French, Italian and Spanish would be possible, and neither would it be desirable or politically viable.


I didn't say it would be an artificial language; I said it would be an artificial (in the sense of intentionally imposed) merger. I gave the example of Batua for a reason.

Most of the modern European languages have some 'artificial' component in this sense; the amount of backlash varies.

Impiegato wrote:

I agree with you that "Scandinavian" would not be in the top 3, because that would still be English, German and French. However, after these three languages "Scandinavian" could probably, at least in Europe, compete with Polish, Italian, Spanish or Russian for those who are interested in studying in Scandinavian countries or doing business with people from northern Europe.


In all honesty, I don't think it's worth the trouble to the Scandinavians if, in the end, they're competing with Polish. I love Polish, but...


Edited by Volte on 06 March 2010 at 6:47pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Impiegato
Triglot
Senior Member
Sweden
bsntranslation.
Joined 3623 days ago

100 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, Italian
Studies: Spanish, French, Russian

 
 Message 40 of 69
06 March 2010 at 6:51pm | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Interesting input Volte!
To be honest, I don't think I know the solutions to any of this...

All I know is that once you leave Scandinavia you realise that it barely registers on peoples consciousness in the rest of Europe. I don't want my country to be some insignificant region at the outskirts of the map... And I don't want my language to meet the same fate as Welsh or the many dying languages of Russia (to mention some that I have recent information/experience of...)

I realise that there is no immediate danger to Swedish... But the trends are very clear. Smaller languages under heavy influence by larger languages eventually start dying and it only takes a couple of generations.

Scandinavia has (voluntarily) put itself in a position where there are VERY strong influences from English.

Acording to proven experience from across the world and the law of cause and reaction, the outcome is invevitable. It's just a matter of time.

So I am just speculating, for fun, about what possible counteracting measures can be taken. Sadly however, most people don't see the problem. We are not under occupation and nothing is seriously forced down anyones throat (nobody questions compulsory English in schools or ubiquitous English in media), therefore there is no backlash either. Like I said; people will stand up and notice only when the damage is almost completely done, and near irriversible.

The country of Kazakhstan is a really interesting example: It appears most native Kazakhs prefer to speak Russian in most situations and a lot of them don't even know Kazakh. It took less than two generations to get to that point; they had every opportunity to reverse things during the last two decades, but nothing much has happened. We could be heading down the exact same path.




I think it is so strange that this has not yet been a real issue on the political agenda in Sweden. If we don't counteract the influence in time, we will lose more and more of our language. I hope Swedes will reflect on this problem more in the future. One way is to promote more literature, music and movies from other countries than English-speaking ones.

Another way is to stop switching to English if it is a business meeting with 19 Swedes and one foreigner who can only speak English. We should have a lot more pride in our language. I am already very proud of my language, but I don't perceive this pride among most Swedes. Sweden has a lot of great literature, good films and so on. All this will be gone and forgotten if we succumb to the English and North American supremacy.

Another measure that could be taken is to have requirements regarding knowledge of Scanidnavian for foreginers who want to study in our country or want to do a PhD here. High proficiency in Scandinavian should be a requirement to be promoted in a Swedish company with English as official language. The reason is that most employees will speak Swedish even though English is official.

I really want Swedish people to be aware of this extremely important topic, but what really scares me is that the language issue will never be put on top of the agenda. Healthcare, education and the unemployment will probably always be considered more important.

I have met so many Swedes with a surprisingly pragmatic view on languages. They think that English is the only language one should learn and that it is necessary to minimize the number of official languages of the EU. In my opinion, we should use and promote our mother tongues more. It is a matter of justice!

The reason for adopting English as the language used in international companies is of course to save money. What it means is that they don't have to translate millions of documents or using interpretors. However, they will lose creativity at the same time. The reason is that languages represent different ways of thinking and expressing symbols of culture, not only means of communication. Another loss is that proficiency in English could be more important than your other skills, if it is impossible to be promoted in the company without speaking and writing excellent English. Therefore it will, in the end, also be a question of human rights, employment and the possibility of participation in society.

Edited by Impiegato on 06 March 2010 at 8:46pm



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