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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5704 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 1 of 2
12 August 2011 at 5:01pm | IP Logged 
INTRODUCTION
The Germanic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-European languages spoken around the world. Approximately 550 million people are native speakers of a Germanic language, and most of these are found in Western Europe, North America, Australia and Southern Asia. Some of these languages have been used as a lingua franca normally as a legacy of past colonial/imperial expansion by entities governed by speakers of a Germanic language.

In a similar way to Romance languages, the primary attraction of the Germanic languages for many potential learners is their ubiquitousness, utility and for a few of the languages, a perceived link to cultural sophistication. Learning resources designed for English-speakers for the higher-profile Germanic languages are plentiful. Despite their popularity for learners of foreign languages, studying a Germanic language can be a credible but rewarding challenge. Ten of the Germanic languages: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, Faroese, German, Icelandic, Luxembourgish, Norwegian and Swedish are national languages and with the exception of Faroese and Luxembourgish, are at least moderately supported by learning material for English-speakers. In any case, exposure/immersion via travel as part of an independent learning plan for any of these aforementioned languages are feasible endeavours. Studying Frisian or Yiddish are also feasible even though these aren't used as official national languages.

As with any other language, the associated culture of the respective Germanic speech communities can be sufficient encouragement for someone to study a Germanic language. The modern culture of many Germanic speakers is broadly “Western” in being informed to a certain degree by Christianity and social or artistic movements experienced throughout Europe. However there are native-speakers of Germanic languages in Asia and Africa whose cultural orientation is more closely aligned to cultures other than the “Western” one.


TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES
Germanic languages may be encountered anywhere because of the aforementioned legacy of colonial/imperial expansion or education in these languages (especially English). As official languages, Germanic languages dominate this sphere in North America and Australasia, and are also used officially in parts of Africa and western and northern Europe.


COUNTRIES (not exhaustive)
Africa: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Americas: Barbados, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, USA
Asia: India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore
Australasia: Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark (include Faroe Islands and Greenland), Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom


SPEAKERS
Approximately 550 million are native speakers of a Germanic language


CHARACTERISTICS OF INTEREST TO LEARNERS IN SELECTED GermanIC LANGUAGES

AFRIKAANS
- stress can fall on any syllable as the position depends on lexis or interaction of morphological and/or phonological factors
- no pitch-accent
- substantial vowel reduction
- strongly analytic
- usually SV(O) in a main clause (described in South Africa as “STOMPI” - Subject, verb 1, Time, Object, Manner, Place, verb 2, Infinitive)
- 4 moods
- 4 tenses in indicative mood (5 if one adds conditional to present, future, preterite and perfect)
- largely reliant on 1 case (pronouns and certain fixed expressions show evidence of distinct cases)
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- no grammatical gender
- verbs on their own show little marking for person or number
- basically two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Dutch but somewhat asymmetric as speakers of Dutch tend to understand Afrikaans better than vice-versa.
- double negation is part of the standard language (nie...nie...) unlike for the other modern Germanic languages
- approximately 7 million native speakers
- moderate support for English-speaking learners

DANISH
- stress placement depends on the origin of the word and/or its form
- no pitch accent
- strong vowel reduction
- generally analytic with limited fusion
- usually SV(O) in a main clause
- 2-3 moods depending on how you count them (indicative and imperative with subjunctive/optative confined to fixed expressions)
- 5 tenses in indicative mood
- 2 cases for nominals other than personal pronouns; these pronouns use oblique in addition to nominative and genitive
- indefinite article precedes the nominal separately; definite article can precede the nominal separately or be attached as a suffix on the nominal depending on whether there's an attribute adjective or genitive form.
- common and neuter
- T-V distinction exists but is not usually made
- modified Latin alphabet
- substantial to high intelligibility with Norwegian but dependent on the dialect/variants considered on both sides, somewhat less with Swedish. However mutual intelligibility is uneven as Danish in speech is much less intelligible to Norwegians and Swedes than Danish in print.
- Danish differs from the closely-related Norwegian and Swedish by using stød which is often heard as a sort of laryngealization or even a glottal stop rather than pitch-accent
- approximately 6 million native speakers
- moderate support for English-speaking learners

DUTCH
- stress can fall on any syllable as the position depends on lexis or interaction of morphological and/or phonological factors
- no pitch-accent
- strong vowel reduction
- generally analytic with limited fusion
- verb is usually in second position in the main clause
- 7 moods
- 8 tenses
- largely reliant on 1 case since the 1950s (pronouns and certain fixed expressions show evidence of distinct cases)
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- 2-3 grammatical genders depending on how you count them or which variant of Dutch is being considered
- largely two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Afrikaans, varying degrees of intelligibility with variants of Frisian and Low German
- Standard Dutch is taught in all schools and used officially as "Dutch". However it can be seen as part of a pluricentric entry alongside at least two national varieties: Belgian Dutch and "Northern"/"Netherlandish" Dutch both of which do not fully overlap with standard "Dutch". The difference between these national variants is comparable to the difference between British and American English.
- approximately 23 million native speakers
- moderate support for English-speaking learners

ENGLISH
- main stress can fall on any syllable
- no pitch-accent
- strong vowel reduction
- generally analytic with some fusion and agglutination
- often SV(O) in main clauses
- 3 moods
- 12 tenses in indicative mood with the list stretched to 16 if tenses for conditional are included; verb conjugation stands out from other Germanic languages out by using “do” as a dummy-verb in questions and negated phrases.
- largely reliant on 1 case (but genitive can be marked by possessor with “'s”) (most pronouns have nominative and non-nominative forms)
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- no grammatical gender
- no T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- limited mutual intelligibility with Frisian, even less with other Germanic languages
- stands out from the other Germanic languages with its combination of reduced declensions (cf. Northern Germanic languages), generally analytic typology (cf. Afrikaans) and roughly 60% of the modern vocabulary estimated to have derived from Latin or French
- approximately 400 million native speakers
- large body of learners and fluent speakers of it as a foreign language at present (estimated near 1 billion) is related to the vast industry of ESL/EFL

FAROESE
- main stress tends to fall on the first syllable
- no pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- generally fusional morphology
- verb is in second position; SV(O) is a common variant for main clauses
- 3 moods (5 moods if one adds infinitive and particple to the indicative, imperative and optative)
- 8 tenses
- 4 cases
- indefinite articles precede the nominal separately but definiteness is marked at minimum by suffix on the nominal; nominals modified by adjectives mark definiteness with definite article preceding the nominal separately and the definite suffix attached to the nominal
- masculine, feminine, neuter
- T-V distinction exists but is usually made in official register only
- modified Latin alphabet
- some mutual intelligibility with Icelandic but uneven as aural/oral intelligibilty is usually less than mutual intelligibility of written expression
- language planning in Faroese is marked by selective purism in that calques or borrowing from Icelandic is noticeably preferred over doing the same using Danish, English or other languages.
- approximately 70 000 native speakers
- limited support for English-speaking learners

FRISIAN
- main stress can fall on any syllable as the position depends on lexis or interaction of morphological and/or phonological factors
- no pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- generally analytic morphology
- verb is often in second position in main clauses
- 2 moods
- 4 tenses in indicative mood
- largely reliant on 1 case (but genitive can be marked by possessor with “-e”) (most pronouns have nominative and non-nominative forms)
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- common and neuter genders
- T-V distinction maintained for singular addressee (i.e. polite jo versus do)
- modified Latin alphabet
- limited mutual intelligibility with Dutch and English
- “Frisian” can be a catch-all term for "West Frisian", "Saterland Frisian" and "North Frisian" which are only partially mutually intelligible. West Frisian has the largest number of speakers and is not to be confused with the Dutch convention of using Westfries ("West Frisian") to designate a Dutch dialect spoken in North Holland (province).
- between 300 000 and 600 000 native speakers (i.e. estimates vary)
- limited support for English-speaking learners

GERMAN
- main stress tends to fall on the first syllable of native words including words with inseparable prefixes. Placement of main stress for other types of words depends on morphological or lexical factors.
- no pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- generally fusional typology
- verb is in 2nd position in main clauses; verb in final position in subordinate clauses
- 4 moods
- 6 tenses in indicative mood
- 4 cases
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- masculine, feminine and neuter
- T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Luxembourgish and Pennsylvania German; moderate oral/aural mutual intelligibility with Yiddish; limited but uneven mutual intelligibility with Dutch (Dutch and German in print tend to be more mutually intelligible than Dutch and German in speech). Standard German as taught in each of Austria, Germany and Switzerland differs little by country and virtually fully mutually intelligible while regional dialects/languages (e.g. Plattdüütsch, Schwyzerdütsch) can be unintelligible to outsiders (including some Germans) or those familiar only with Standard German
- a myth persists that German was prevented in 1794 from becoming the official language of the USA by one vote in the House of Representatives. This vote in fact dealt with a petition from German immigrants requesting translations of federal laws into German. See this article for the explanation.
- approximately 95 million native speakers
- very high support for English-speaking learners

ICELANDIC
- main stress falls on the first syllable
- no pitch-accent
- limited vowel reduction
- generally fusional typology
- SVO is usual for main clauses
- 4 moods
- 7 tenses in indicative mood
- 4 cases
- definiteness often marked by suffixes on the noun as in Norwegian and Swedish (and infrequently as a separate article preceding the nominal); indefiniteness may or may not be marked by suffixes as it depends on the noun's grammatical gender.
- masculine, feminine, neuter
- T-V distinction has largely faded and is restricted to officious register or a few fixed expressions
- modified Latin alphabet
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Faroese but uneven as aural/oral mutual intelligibilty is usually less than mutual intelligibility of written expression
- Icelandic alphabet was standardized in the 19th century relying largely on a standard used in the 12th century. The advantage is that the Sagas in their original forms are more comprehensible to the modern Icelander than otherwise but the disadvantage is that current pronunciation practices can diverge noticeably from the spelling convention
- approximately 300 000 native speakers
- moderate support for English-speaking learners

NORWEGIAN (Bokmål unless otherwise indicated)
- stress may fall on any syllable
- pitch-accent
- limited vowel reduction
- noticeably analytic typology with some agglutinative/fusional elements
- SV(O) is usual for main clauses
- 3 moods
- 6 tenses in indicative mood
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns make some distinctions for case)
- definiteness marked by suffixes on the noun as in Icelandic and Swedish; indefiniteness may be marked by suffixes or a preceding article depending on the noun's grammatical gender and/or number.
- 2-3 grammatical genders depending on dialect/variant considered (masculine, feminine and neuter in most varieties OR common and neuter in Bergen variant and Riksmål)
- T-V distinction is used usually in formal writing; it is used rarely in speech
- modified Latin alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Danish and Swedish. However mutual intelligibility is asymmetrical with Norwegians tending to understand Danish and Swedish more than Danes or Swedes understanding Norwegian.
- two standard written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk with the former being based on dialects native to southeastern Norway and Oslo and the latter being based on dialects in western Norway. Bokmål is most often taught to foreigners and used by about 85% of Norwegians. Differences between the standards are detectable but the distinction is less important in speech as Norwegians may show noticeable diglossia by using many non-standard or dialectal forms in speech but reverting to one of Bokmål or Nynorsk when writing.
- approximately 5 million native speakers
- moderate support for English-speaking learners

SWEDISH
- main stress in native words tends to fall on the first syllable; on the last syllable for loanwords. Compound words have stress on one syllable from each part of the compound.
- pitch-accent
- moderate vowel reduction
- noticeably analytic typology with some agglutinative/fusional elements
- verb usually is in second position in main clauses
- 3 moods (4 if one adds infinitive to the indicative, subjunctive and imperative)
- 5 tenses in indicative mood (7 if one counts conditional tenses)
- largely reliant on 1 case (personal pronouns make some distinctions for case)
- definiteness marked by suffixes on the noun as in Icelandic and Norwegian; indefiniteness is marked by an article preceding the nominal.
- common and neutral grammatical gender
- T-V distinction is limited (use of polite “Ni” is not widespread)
- modified Latin alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Danish and Norwegian. However mutual intelligibility is uneven as Swedes tend to understand Norwegian better than Danish but those from southern Sweden (Scania) tend to understand Danish and Norwegian equally well. On the other hand, Norwegians tend to understand Swedish better than Danes.
- a questionable but common piece of trivia in Scandinavia is that the municipality with the highest proportion of native speakers of Swedish worldwide is Hammarland, Finland. See these comments for its dubiousness
- approximately 10 million native speakers
- high support for English-speaking learners

YIDDISH
- main stress tends to fall on the first syllable of native words including words with inseparable prefixes (cf. German). Internationalisms' stress tends to fall on the suffix while stress of Hebraic roots can shift from first syllable to second depending on inflection. Otherwise, stress tends to fall on the penultimate syllable.
- no pitch-accent
- limited vowel reduction (?)
- generally fusional morphology
- verb is usually in second position in main clauses
- 3 moods (4 if one adds the conditional to the indicative, subjunctive and optative)
- 5 tenses in indicative mood
- 3 cases
- indefinite and definite articles precede the nominal separately
- masculine, feminine and neuter
- T-V distinction
- modified Hebraic alphabet
- moderate oral/aural mutual intelligibility with German
- lexicon has been estimated to be of 85% German origin, 10% Hebrew origin and 5% Slavonic.
- approximately 1.5 million speakers (presumably as mother tongue or foreign language)
- moderate support for English-speaking learners


BOOKS OF INTEREST ON GermanIC LANGUAGES IN GENERAL
- Harbert, Wayne. The Germanic Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparative linguistics involving all Germanic languages, notwithstanding some errors suggesting author's lack of familiarity with Icelandic)
- König, Ekkehard and van der Auwera, Johan (eds.). The Germanic Languages. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. (Somewhat technical and not focused on comparison but commonly-cited and used standard descriptive manual of the Germanic languages)
- Orel, Vladimir E. A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden: Brill, 2003 (A dictionary for reconstructed Proto-Germanic that also shows attested words in ancient Germanic languages; for serious fans of Germanic etymology)
- Prokosch, Eduard. A Comparative Germanic Grammar. Philadelphia: The Linguistic Society of America, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1939. (A dated but still useful text that traces the development of Germanic as a separate group within Indo-European and compares the ancient Germanic languages)
- Robinson, Orrin W. Old English and its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages. London: Routledge, 1991. (A popular introductory text to comparative Germanic linguistics focusing on ancient Germanic languages)


LINKS
Afrikaans Profile
Archaic English equivalents of German/Dut
Differences between German and Yiddish?
Difficulty of Germanic languages
Dutch Profile
Dutch vs Scandinavian Languages
English Profile
Easiest Germanic language to study?
Extinct Germanic languages
For English Speaker: Germanic or Romance?
German Profile
German, Dutch, Swedish, etc.
German spin-offs
Germanic “cheat sheet”
Germanic family
Germanic family learning sequence
Germanic language family videos
Germanic language learning sequence
Germanic language order?
Germanic languages - transparency
Germanic Verbs (to be)
Getting Frysky
How Germanic is English?
Icelandic compared with N. Germanic langs
Icelandic Profile
Languages related to English
Luxembourgish
Luxembourgish Profile
Mutual Intelligibility of Older Germanic
Mysterious similarities Swedish/Dutch
Northern European Learning Methods?
Northern Germanic Language Confusion
Norwegian Profile
Swedish Norwegian Danish - intelligible
Swedish Profile
Swiss German Profile
Tackling Germanic languages
Which Germanic language after German?
Which Germanic languages, in which order?
Which is more likely? Germ-Norw-Dutch
Which Scandinavian language to study?

AUDIO SAMPLES OF GermanIC LANGUAGES AT RHINOSPIKE.COM
Danish
Dutch
English
German
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish

AUDIO SAMPLES OF GermanIC DIALECTS/LANGUAGES AT YOUTUBE.COM
Afrikaans
Faroese
Flemish
Frisian
German
Luxembourgish
Pennsylvania Dutch
Plattdeutsch
Plautdietsch
Scots
Schwyzerdütsch
Yiddish

COMMENTS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE “BEEN THERE” WITH AT LEAST TWO GermanIC LANGUAGES

amoore wrote:
Learn one of them, and it will be a simple task to learn to speak and understand all of them - Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic.

If someone just picked out one of these languages and started spending the same amount
of time learning it as some spend time writing, reading about choosing and figuring out
which language to learn, they would learn one of them VERY well within less that 1
year, and afterwards they could learn the next within months.

You already learn the other two when learning your first. In my very subjective
opinion.

I am a native speaker and have both Icelandic and Norwegian friends. Norwegian - no
problem. Reading Norwegian is some times easiere for a dane to read than danish. I have
read a lot of Norwegian litterature. Icelandic is a little more difficult, but it is
not impossible and it is definitely one of the languages I am going to learn very soon
since I feel, as a Danish speaker, I understand a lot already.

So learn scandinavian language, and the rest of them are almost for free.

[Ed. amoore's comments are from message no. 6 in the thread “Which Scandinavian language to study?”]


egill wrote:
My native language is English and my first foreign Germanic language is German which I took classes for in school and later continued on my own. After that I got started on Icelandic by taking Old Norse in school, and then continuing on my own as well with an emphasis on the modern language. I also picked up some Dutch along the way. I can't speak too much on utility and chic factor, as I have never visited any of the countries where they are spoken (save English), so I'll focus on my personal learning experiences.

One thing I really like about Germanic languages is that they tend to have transparent orthographies, meaning that one can pronounce a word based solely on its spelling most of the time. Even where the orthography is kept deliberately archaic in spite of sweeping phonological changes (Icelandic) the words are still predictable and easy to read aloud. Native words usually have fixed stress on the first syllable too. Icelandic still has an extensive three-gendered four-case system, with both the noun and the articles changing for each case. German preserves a three-gendered four-case system too, but mostly marks case just with articles (i.e. the noun itself mostly doesn't change). Dutch has done away with the cases altogether (though remnants of it do appear here and there) and merged male/female genders. A side effect of this is that I found it easier to remember the gender of Icelandic nouns just by encountering them in reading (since they are more often marked) compared with German nouns. The downside of this is that memorizing noun declensions became one of the hardest parts for me, especially since there are quite a few irregularities. Speaking of lexicon, as you may know, Icelandic tries to avoid loanwords so there ends up being more to memorize in that area. The advantage of this (if you like this sort of thing) is that you get a lot of words built up from a relatively smaller number of native words, especially preposition+verb formations. Pronunciation-wise, I didn't have much difficulty with Icelandic, whereas German's uvular r and Dutch's ui and ij dipthongs gave me considerable trouble. All else being equal, I think German makes an ideal first language, as it introduces a gentler case system and three genders, as well as having the most learning material available.


Fasulye wrote:
One of the Germanic language group is my native language: German. English I learned at age 7, Dutch at age 22 and Danish at age 48. Of course it helps if your native language is Germanic to learn other languages of this group. The most important advantage is that you find similarities (in grammar or vocabulary) and that you can guess unknown words. English and Danish have got an irregular pronounciation so for both languages it's recomendable to have a look at the IPA in the dictionaries. German and Dutch have regular pronounciation rules. The German language has 4 cases (Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative), whereas Dutch and Danish have abandoned their case system. Danish is highly intellegible with Swedish and Norwegian, so it opens a door to Scandinavia as a whole. When you look at English and German then the Dutch language lies in-between, so it can easily be learned by both English and German speakers. English and German are often learned as school languages, whereas it's more an uncommon choice to learn Dutch or Danish. But this can be very rewarding because in the foreign country it's appreciated, if people take an efford to learn Dutch or Danish instead of just using English as a means of communication. I live in the German-Dutch border region, so for me my knowledge of Dutch offered me more job perspectives than even the global business language English. Nobody could predict that, so this came for me and my family as a surprise.


Iversen wrote:
I'm a native speaker of Standard Danish and have learnt English from around the age of 10. I had (High) German in school from around the age of 12, and I have been listening regularly to Norwegian and Swedish since my youth and have theefore no problems understanding them. I followed some courses in Icelandic around 1908 in order to learn to understand the sagas, and I have watched programs in Low German and (sometimes) Dutch on TV, leaving me with some ability to understand them in their written and/or spoken form. However it is only after 2006 that I have studied these languges systematically (and even tried to make the active), and during this phase I have also added Afrikaans and Scots to my study plan. The result is that with the exception of Faroese, Frisian, Swiss German (and some other aberannt German dialects) plus Jiddisch I basically cover all the living Germanic languages. I'm less well versed in old language forms like Anglosaxon, Old High German and Gothic - the only Medievel language I can read reasonably well is Old Norse.


mick33 wrote:
My first language is English and the first language I learned on my own was Afrikaans in 2007 and I started learning Swedish in 2009. I chose Afrikaans and Swedish because I liked the sounds of the languages when I heard them spoken or sung. Swedish, Afrikaans and English are alike in many ways, but Afrikaans and Swedish have less French influence in their vocabularies.

As for pronunciation challenges, Afrikaans has the gutteral "g" sound (the same sound is also heard in Dutch) and the diphthong "ui" (which differs from the Dutch pronunciation) but other than that it isn't too dfficult to pronounce, while Swedish has the "sje" sound which I don't find difficult to say but it can be spelled many different ways, so I would suggest learning the spellings and pronunciation at the same time. Swedish also has two pitch accents and I think listening to a lot spoken Swedish and mimicking what I'm hearing helps although I admit that I need to work more on this aspect of Swedish pronunciation.

Swedish grammar is at first very close to English but there are a few differences in word order. I think Afrikaans grammar is similar to the Dutch and German grammars, but Afrikaans has been streamlined a lot. I didn't plan to learn the Germanic languages in any special order, but if someone wanted to start with an easier Germanic language it might be a really good idea to start with Afrikaans and then learn another Germanic language.


Paul wrote:
For an English speaker, German is the definite first choice. It has the most speakers, and both the missing vocabulary, and the typical Germanic grammatical structure that English partially lacks (it's like filling in the missing pieces).

So to start with i'd say

English
German

For example with English and German you probably have 60-90 % (i don't
know exactly) of Swedish vocabulary and virtually all of the grammatical
structure (there are still minor differences such as the definite article
forming a suffix at the end of a noun). The simple words are refreshingly
similar to English, and higher vocabulary is shared with German (whereas
english obviously shares this with French). Basically once you know
English and German, all the other major Germanic languages will be very
easy.

So i would say

1.English
2.German
=3.Swedish (Norwegian and Danish are so similar they need not be learnt.) or
=3.Dutch
=4 Icelandic (This is going to take a couple of years, and had less in common with the other languages so is best saved for last. Again German grammar and Scandinavian vocabulary will give you a starting point.
=5 Faroese, if you really want to. It only has 70,000 odd speakers. This is very similar to Icelandic.

Hope this helps.

[Ed. Paul's comments are from message no. 3 as a response to morprussell's question in the thread “Germanic family learning sequence”]


tractor wrote:
I'm a native Norwegian speaker.

English: I started learning English at school at the age of 10. Children today start learning it even earlier. Movies and TV programmes are not dubbed here in Norway. We are therefore exposed to spoken English (both British and American) every day (just have to turn on the TV). This makes it hard to compare it to other foreign languages.

German: I've learnt German through self-study (Assimil, Linguahone etc.) Grammar is certainly the trickiest part, especially the case system. Pronunciation is not too tricky. Vocabulary is relatively easy due to the common Germanic roots and a vast amount of German loan words in Norwegian.

Danish and Swedish: I understand almost everything, although spoken Danish can be a bit hard to understand at times. Many Danes seem to have trouble understanding my dialect so I have to slow down and adjust my language towards the Bokmål/Riksmål standard when I speak to them.

Other Germanic languages: I can understand a few words and can sometimes get a general idea of the topic of discussion, but nothing more, and only if I pay close attention. Only Danish and Swedish are mutually intelligable with Norwegian.


Zwlth wrote:
I learned German in school. Studied it all through college, had great teachers and learned a lot. Later I got to spend time there while doing research in graduate school, and that's when it all gelled. I've dabbled with a number of historical Germanic languages since then, and while I found them easy, those in my class without much living German background found them quite difficult. Also, knowing it made learing Dutch and Swedish a snap. It's definitely a must if you love languages. Although, yes, it does have more "grammar" than the others, I still think you should learn it first (and not concentrate upon that, but simply upon the living language aspect, for then it takes care of itself) because it opens so many doors to the others.


Edited by Chung on 10 August 2012 at 3:50am

5 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5704 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 2 of 2
12 August 2011 at 5:47pm | IP Logged 
As with the other group profiles, this one for Germanic is designed for people who are interested in learning their first Germanic language as a foreign one but are unsure of which one to pick. I hope that this brief profile will help potential learners focus their choice. In addition I encourage others who have studied at least two Germanic languages as foreign languages to post comments or send a PM to me and I will then incorporate their comments into the main profile as time allows.

My interest in Germanic is less than in Balto-Slavonic and Finno-Ugric and much of my knowledge in languages other than English and German are from second-hand descriptions of the Germanic languages. I do not vouch for the infallibility of the listed characteristics of the Germanic languages above and welcome corrections from native speakers if my lists of characteristics show mistakes. For example I'm unsure of the existence of vowel reduction in Icelandic and Yiddish.

In addition, I am open to expanding the list of languages to include the "disputed ones" of Flemish and Scots (or even the extinct Gothic) as long as someone more qualified could present to me a list of characteristics in the same format as above. The consistency within these profiles aids comparison, I believe.

Although I do enjoy working on these profiles and learn something new every time, I'm a little embarrassed by the Eurocentrism of the group profiles (on the other hand, I just can't muster much enthusiasm to pore through descriptions of Chinese, Semitic or Algonquian philology among many others, nor have I learned/studied that many languages). A Turkic profile is still a possibility but I'm thinking that such a profile would need to be a more overtly collaborative project since I myself have very little experience with Turkic languages, and active members of this forum who are learning Turkic languages other than Turkish are few indeed. Creating a Celtic profile would also be nice but it faces the same obstacle as a Turkic one with very few active members knowing/studying more than one of the group's languages.

Anyway, comments and/or suggestions are welcome.
3 persons have voted this message useful



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