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Germanic languages - transparency

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
14 messages over 2 pages: 1 2  Next >>
Raistlin Majere
Trilingual Hexaglot
Senior Member
Spain
uciprotour-cycling.c
Joined 6992 days ago

455 posts - 424 votes 
7 sounds
Speaks: English*, Spanish*, Catalan*, FrenchA1, Italian, German
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 1 of 14
23 June 2005 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
As some of you may have already read in my Member Profile, I already knew two Germanic languages (English and German) before I learnt Swedish. However, my knowledge of other Germanic languages was very low, or more accurately, zero.

Yet, when I achieved a knowledge of Swedish of what is about 70% of my present ability in these language, I unexpectedly began to understand (only understand, not write nor speak) many other Germanic languages which I had never studied.

Thanks to Swedish, I can now understand Dutch, Danish, Norwegian... more or less at the same level that I could understand Portuguese or Occitan (me being a native Catalan and Spanish speaker); that means I can get about 90% of the message in a newspaper article; or that I can read long texts without having to guess the meaning of unknown words.

Imagine my delight when I saw I could even understand quite well texts in Ancient Germanic, Old English and Old Norse! Thanks to Swedish I understood nouns and grammatical structures I would have never understood otherwise.

Now, here comes the point I'm trying to make; somehow, my knowledge of English and German was no help in understanding other Germanic languages; but Swedish turned out to be a major leap for me in this field. I have an hypothesis for this (which is probably quite wrong): that Swedish is more primitive and less evolved than English and German, and thus mantains better the basic Germanic characteristics.

Anyway, whatever it is, I wish to say that Swedish is a great language to learn, and that anyone who likes language learning should have a try with it. If you are studying Swedish or you have done in the past, please leave your opinion.
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omicron
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6961 days ago

125 posts - 132 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 2 of 14
23 June 2005 at 4:54pm | IP Logged 
You might have a look at Icelandic, which is supposed to have undergone fewer changes than Swedish/Danish/Norwegian, and see how it compares to Old English, Old Norse, etc.
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victor
Tetraglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 7158 days ago

1098 posts - 1056 votes 
6 sounds
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, FrenchC1, Mandarin
Studies: Spanish
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 3 of 14
23 June 2005 at 5:00pm | IP Logged 
RM, what I'm thinking too is that the combined vocabulary/structure of English, German and Swedish gave you acess to all the other Germanic languages you mentioned.
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Bart
Triglot
Senior Member
Belgium
Joined 7000 days ago

155 posts - 159 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, French, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Japanese, Swedish

 
 Message 4 of 14
23 June 2005 at 5:04pm | IP Logged 
I have recently looked into Swedish a bit, as I will be traveling to Sweden with my brother in august. As a native speaker of Dutch I was actually surprised that I was at less of an advantage than I had thought I would be. Especially on the grammatical side of things I get confused sometimes, although reading a swedish text is not at all difficult for me as most of the words are almost the same in Dutch.

Just out of curiosity; what learning materials have you used for Swedish? (As I see it worked for you and I would like to get some good learning material before I go on vacation to France during the month of July)

Edited by Bart on 23 June 2005 at 5:06pm

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Raistlin Majere
Trilingual Hexaglot
Senior Member
Spain
uciprotour-cycling.c
Joined 6992 days ago

455 posts - 424 votes 
7 sounds
Speaks: English*, Spanish*, Catalan*, FrenchA1, Italian, German
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 5 of 14
23 June 2005 at 5:27pm | IP Logged 
I just bought a dictionary with grammar appendices, I learnt the grammar and all the useful words I could think of by heart, and then I practiced it with natives on Internet until I achieved a level good enough so as not to be corrected more than one or two times in a half-hour conversation. I don't think many people will like my method! ;)
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lengua
Senior Member
United States
polyglottery.wordpre
Joined 6524 days ago

549 posts - 595 votes 
Studies: French, Italian, Spanish, German

 
 Message 6 of 14
15 October 2006 at 8:55pm | IP Logged 
How do you find the transfer of aural comprehension across the languages?
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 6543 days ago

9078 posts - 16473 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 7 of 14
16 October 2006 at 2:56am | IP Logged 
Congratulations, Raistlin Majere!

If you look at the modern Germanic languages, the most conservative by a wide margin is Icelandic, followed by Faroese and, surprise, German. The German syntax is remarkably well preserved from the middle ages, even though the vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling has changed quite a lot since then.

One reason that your studies of Swedish have opened up the whole gamut of Germanic languages for you might be that it represents the third group of surviving Germanic languages, and with Eastern Germanic dead and buried (Gothic) you now have the whole family represented in your list of languages. Learning Dutch or Low German would probably not have done the trick.I'm slightly impressed that you can immediately read the middle age languages, but combining German morphology with Swedish vocabulary and idiomatics will take you a long way towards understanding Old Norse, which is fairly close to Old English and Old (High and Low) German.

More specifically there are things in Swedish that you won't find in neither English nor German, such as the enclitic definite article ("article-the"). However all North Germanic languages use it, so knowing it in Swedish has removed one obstacle for you in all the North Germanic languages in one go.

EDIT: there may be one reason more. I guess that you have learnt English long ago and maybe also German. Now where you have learnt a lot of other languages you may be more trained to apply your new knowledge of Swedish actively across language barriers than you were when you studied the other two languages.



Edited by Iversen on 16 October 2006 at 3:10am

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Magnum
Bilingual Triglot
Retired Moderator
Pro Member
United States
Joined 6957 days ago

359 posts - 353 votes 
Speaks: English*, Serbian*, French
Studies: German
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 8 of 14
16 October 2006 at 3:13am | IP Logged 
This reminds me of something Ardaschir wrote. He said he does not like to say how many languages he is fluent in, but rather to think of language families. He mentioned that once a person learns multiple languages from the same family, that person can then know other languages that he has not studied.

I asked our Administrator about this before. He knows French, Spanish, and Italian. I asked him if he could understand Portuguese. I believe his response was that he could skim an article in a popular newspaper and get the gist, although he could not read it per se and understand every word.

Not many people are given the chance to understand an entire language family and observe how they are related or how they evolved. It looks like fun, like every language is a jig saw puzzle peice, and once you learn them all you can see the bigger picture.




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