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The North Germanic Languages of the Nordic Nations (UPDATED)

Okay, so I’ve had a lot of requests for a video
on the North Germanic languages. So today, I present to you a video
on Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish. [Crowd protestation] What? The North Germanic languages
of the Nordic Nations And Finnish isn’t one of them. Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel
and my name is Paul Today, I’m going to talk about the North Germanic
languages of the Nordic Nations. That includes the scandinavian languages:
Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. And I will also touch on the languages of
Icelandic and Faroese. I wanted to call this video:
the Scandinavian Languages because I just love the way that word sounds:
“Scandinavian” But to the people of that region, the word “Scandinavian”
only refers to Denmark, Sweden and Norway and not to the other countries that I want to talk about. So if I say the Nordic Nations, that also includes
Iceland, the Faroe Islands as well as Finland. I want to talk about the North Germanic languages
spoken in all of those countries. So I decided on the title:
the North Germanic languages of the Nordic Nations. And please note that Finnish is not
a North Germanic language. It belongs to a separate language family entirely. But there is a Swedish-speaking miniority in Finland. There are about 20 million native speakers
of North Germanic languages. And that includes about 9 million speakers of Swedish, mainly in Sweden but also
as a minority language in Finland. Six million speakers of Danish, mainly in Denmark but also as a minority language in the “Southern Schleswig”
region of Northern Germany and in Greenland. 5 million speakers of Norwegian, mainly in Norway 320,000 speakers of Icelandic, mainly in Iceland 90,000 speakers of Faroese, about 2/3 of them living
in the Faroe Islands and the rest mainly in Denmark The North Germanic languages are, as you probably guessed,
a branch of the Germanic language family. All Germanic languages developed from Proto-Germanic,
which was spoken around 500 BCE Proto-Germanic possibly originated in Scandinavia and different varieties of Germanic
began to emerge with migration. Runic inscriptions from the 2nd century CE show us that,
by that time, Proto-Germanic had began to separate
into distinct Western, Eastern and Northern dialects. The northern dialect was spoken in Scandinavia
and is today often referred to as Proto-Norse. And became the ancestor
of all the North Germanic languages. Proto-Norse was spoken from
around the 2nd century CE to the 8th century CE and, by the beginning of the Viking Era
in the eighth century CE, It had evolved into the dialects that are
collectively referred to as “Old Norse”. During the next few hundred years, Vikings, seafaring
norse people, explored much of europe by sea and river, conquering lands and establishing settlements
and bringing their language with them. During this time, “Old Norse” was divided
into three mutually intelligible dialects of “Old East Norse”, “Old West Norse” and “Old Gutnish” “Old East Norse” was spoken in Sweden and Denmark,
as well as their overseas settlements in Russia,
England and in Danish settlements in Normandy. “Old West Norse” was spoken in Norway as well
as its overseas settlements, the two most notable
were Iceland and the Faroe Islands. But also Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man
and Norwegian settlements in Normandy. Old Gutnish was mainly spoken on the island of Gotland,
which is today part of Sweden as well as
some overseas settlements to the East. These West, East and Gutnish varieties of Old Norse
gradually developed into the modern North Germanic
languages around the 14th century CE. The western branch of languages consists of
Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese, as well as some other extinct languages. The eastern branch consists of Swedish and Danish. The Gutnish branch consists of only
the Gutnish language, which is still spoken
to some extent on the island of Gotland. But these days, the North Germanic languages are generally
not thought of in terms of East, West and Gutnish. They are thought of in terms of continental and insular. The Continental languages are
Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, and the insular languages are Icelandic and Faroese. These categories are based
on the mutual intelligibility of the languages, rather than on the genetic root language
that they come from. Norwegian is grouped with Swedish and Danish because,
even though Icelandic and Norwegian developed
from the same Old West Norse, Norwegian is today much more intelligible
with Swedish and Danish. One reason for that is the political union of
Denmark and Norway from 1536 to 1814. During this time, the written Norwegian language
stopped being used and it was replaced
by the written Danish language and this had a big impact on the spoken dialects of
Norwegian, especially the central and eastern dialects. The Continental languages also underwent
a lot of influence from Middle Low German, which is an influence that didn’t affect
Icelandic and Faroese. The three continental languages can be referred to
as the “Scandinavian languages”. When talking about the Scandinavian languages,
it’s important to note that there is a significant amount
of dialectal variation within each language. In fact, the three languages are made up
of a dialect continuum, that means if you travel in one direction,
the dialects gradually change the further you go. That means for example that, if you are Norwegian living
near the border with Sweden, you probably have an easier time understanding
your neighbor just across the border in Sweden than you do a Norwegian
from the other side of the country, even though you are supposedly speaking
a different language from that Swedish person. This makes it kind of hard to determine at what point
these dialects become different languages. Or if they are in fact different languages at all. The three languages are all more or less intelligible,
depending on where the dialect lies on that continuum. And the written languages are almost entirely intelligible. Danish seems to be the odd man out,
with its complex phonology that has come
to be quite distinct from the written language. Swedes and Norwegians often say that Danish people
sound like they’re speaking with a potato in their mouth. I can’t actually confirm if they do speak
with the potato in their mouth. So, Scandinavians, can you let me know
if that’s true in the comments down below? I have Danish roots.
So I’m allowed to make fun of Danes. From what I understand, Norwegians have the easiest
time understanding the other two Scandinavian languages. Though, they understand Swedish better than Danish. Swedes can generally understand Norwegian
but they have much more trouble understanding Danish,
because of its pronunciation And Danes can more or less understand Norwegian and,
to a lesser extent, they can understand some Swedish. From what I understand, Scandinavians will
generally not speak the other person’s language. They will speak their own language, while making
an effort to understand the other person’s speech. And maybe, they will slow down
and clarify things when necessary. But, when they have significant trouble
communicating, they might switch to English, which isn’t that tough for them because Scandinavians
are magical geniuses when it comes to learning English. In this kind of situation where you have three closely related
languages that kind of blend together on a continuum, the languages are not defined by the spoken variety,
but rather by the official standard language associated
with that country or region. In Denmark, there is Standard Danish.
In Sweden, there is Standard Swedish.
And, in Norway, there is Standard Norwegian. Or wait, no, there are actually two Standard Norwegians. What? That’s right, Norway actually has
two official standard written languages: Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål which means “book language”,
is a Danish-influenced standard language, which is very close to standard Danish
but which uses Norwegian pronunciation. Nynorsk or “new Norwegian” is intended to be
a purer version of Norwegian, based on
Norway’s more conservative Western dialects Which standard language Norwegians are educated in
depends on the region they grow up in. But, despite having two official standard languages,
Norwegians don’t really speak them. Norwegians generally speak their own local dialect,
whenever they are speaking. Even in formal situations and even when they’re speaking
to people from the other scandinavian countries. Because of this, Norwegians have to get used to
understanding a wide variety of spoken dialects And that’s probably part of what makes it easier
for them to understand Swedish and Danish. But that, of course, is just my speculation.
So, native speakers, you can confirm or disconfirm that. So let’s take a look at the three continental languages
and see just how similar they are. In English : “I love you” First in Swedish: Now in Norwegian : Now in Danish : As you can see, these sentences are very similar but with some differences in spelling and in pronunciation. In particular, the Swedish pronunciation is
a little different than the other two. Listen to the first person pronoun again At the end the swedish one,
you can hear a hard g sound. It is not also pronounced that way,
it depends on exactly where the speaker is from. Another example : “Dogs are the best pets”. First in Swedish: Next in Norwegian : And in Danish : Here we see some more noticable differences
even though the sentences are still really similar. Notice the differences in the words for “dogs”. The swedish word is pretty much pronounced as written. But in the Norwegian and Danish words,
some letters are not pronounced. And notice the different words for “pets”. The Swedish word is different from the other 2. And the Norwegian and Danish words are
almost the same but a different initial sound
and slightly different vowels. Another example Tomorrow I will go to Germany. In Swedish: And in Norwegian : And in Danish : In this case, the Norwegian and Danish sentences
are basically the same, but the Swedish sentence
is pronounced a little differently. Again we hear those hard g sound which aren’t present in the Norwegian and Danish sentences. But again they’re not always
pronounced in Swedish either. One more example. In English: The party was fun because I liked the music. First in Swedish: Then in Norwegian : And in Danish : In these sentences, the word for fun
is different in each language. The word meaning “because” is also different in Swedish. And in Norwegian and Danish,
it’s spelt the same but pronounced differently And “like” is expressed differently in all 3 languages. or “gillade” with a hard g sound,
more as the voice in the recording. In Danish it is expressed with 2 words,
the first one expressing “could”. The phrase literally means “could suffer”. And listen to the difference for the words for “music”
In Norwegian and Danish. Listen how the k sound disappear in Danish. And listen to the pronounciation of this phrase again. The end of the second word seems to vanish. This could be part of
that “potato phenomenon” discussed earlier. So you can probably see just how similar
these three languages are. And you can probably see how – relatively speaking –
they are easy for English-speakers to learn. They are all category 1 languages, according to
the American Foreign Service Institute, which trains
diplomats for their overseas assignments. None of the North Germanic languages are amongst
the most widely spoken languages in the world. And people from the Nordic countries
generally speak excellent English. So, is it a waste of time to learn
a North Germanic language? Of course not! If you’re interested in the cultures
and the history of that region, then learning one of the languages
could bring you immense joy. And because the three Scandinavian languages are
so similar, learning one of them can unlock the doors
to the other ones, especially of the written languages. And, if you’re an avid traveler
or you want to go backpacking around the world, then you will probably meet
a surprising number of Scandinavians. And, knowing their language or even one
of the other two languages will help you break the ice and get to know some wonderful
and, possibly, highly attractive people. And if you are interested in the old Nordic cultures,
then you might benefit from learning Icelandic. Since written Icelandic is still very similar to Old Norse. So don’t hesitate to start learning
one of the North Germanic languages, which could be your portal into a whole new world So the question of the day: Native speakers of North Germanic languages,
what is your experience communicating
with the speakers of other languages? Which of the other languages
do you understand the most? And how do you bridge that communication gap?
We’d like to know. And everyone else, jump in
and leave whatever comment you want. Thank you for watching and have a nice day.

100 Replies to “The North Germanic Languages of the Nordic Nations (UPDATED)”

  • Potato or not, to my Dutch Gronings ears Danish sounds a lot easyer than Swedish, I am going to study some swedish though, because I think it will be easyer to get software, (From a well known bay in Sweden) and series to watch in Swedish.

  • 10:16 I've never heard the word gillade pronounced with a hard G, it's more like a J sound or like the way you say "y" in the word "yes"

  • Is it incredably nerdy to get home after a pub run and start listening to this language analysis? Probably, but I love it! And it's accurate, for sure. To answer the question, I easily understand spoken Norwegian, written bokmål and written Danish, but NOT the spoken Danish

  • That was a good walk through to the scandinavian languages. I´m swedish from the southern/middle part of the country and I have no difficulties whatsoever with reading and listening to norwegian – except for a few dialects that is way off … Still, I can understand what they say. Danish is a bit more … challenging. Specially with people from Copenhagen area. When I read a danish text, I let the words sound like norwegian in my head and thus it´s easy to understand.

  • So I have read through the comments and I’m at Swed and I can totally say that the rumor about Sweds fan Girling over Sweden it’s not faults🇸🇪😂😂

  • Am i the only one who is so offended by the comments? Like, i get it, it's a joke, but you guys are just… Attacking us danes almost, and, it's getting to the point where im standing up for language, cuz im tired of all of these comments about, "oh do danes have potatoes stuck in their throats" or whatever. Im tired of it, because, i see our language as a fine language. It's not much different from norwegian, and still, there's a difference. Since yall are insulting my language, imma just say im happy i have a potato in my throat, rather than me either singing all the time, or always putting my mouth together to say this weird ö sound or whatever (almost like saying ø) so yeah, next time, think about, will someone get offended by my comment, or will they be fine with it.
    Thank you for reading all of this, and, i hope to spread a message to all of you out there…

  • Don't care for BCE/CE. Interesting video for sure. BC/AD…The simplest reason for using BCE/CE as opposed to AD/BC is to avoid reference to Christianity and, in particular, to avoid naming Christ as Lord (BC/AD: Before Christ/In the year of our Lord). Wikipedia, Anno Domini article: … Common Era notation is used in many schools and academic settings.Jul 6, 2011

  • Jhaahjajaja jhaahjajaja I like very much 😉🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣😁😁😁😁👍👍👌👌 yours videos follow so
    this is the best than all very well my friend yours videos be'll very great

  • After learning Danish for a little while I can safely say that I can now stub a toe or realize I'm late, say something vulgar, and absolutely NOBODY will understand. I just wish at least one (here in America) person spoke this language 😂

  • im from Sweden and i dont think people in Denmark talk with a potato in their mouth… its like fast and uptaded swedish. here is that i write, but in swedish: jag är från Sverige och jag tycker inte att folk i Danmark pratar med en potatis i deras munnar…det är som snabb och lite uppdaterad svenska…😂😂

  • I’m Norwegian, but I don’t speak bokmål. If i talked with someone who speak bokmål, they probably won’t understand me very well XD

  • it is true i am a norwegian and norwegians and swedish doesn't understand danish, also danish people sometimes doesn't understand other danish people.

  • I really like how everyone seems to think that we Danes have potatoes in our mouthes when we speak-which we do. And think that evry dane sounds drunk.

  • As a danish person, i will admit…
    Our language is trash and almost impossible to understand! Sometimes we make words like: “sådan”, But then we just say: “sn”! Like what the hecc is up with that? Don’t mix your language with danish, we are only gonna make your language harder and more weirder!

  • A main concern is that you insist on interpreting modern theories about pre-historic language as facts, when in fact they are just undocumented conjecture. In the real world the term "old norse" is just another name for old islandic, which was in many ways basically a pidginized language. (Fx. old Islandic had löndir (to launder) instead of vaske = to wash). More significant: At the time of the old islandic language , according to Sturlasson and the "First Grammarian" (primary sources) the language of the danes was not "old norse" but actually "danish tongue" (dansk tunge). Also the root "dane" must surely be older than any sources: older even than the about 2000 years old roman translation of placenames as Co-DANovia (region of the danes: Scandinavia) and Co-DANus sinus (Gulf of the danes: Kattegat).

  • 7:50 I'll do it in Icelandic for you!
    1. Ég elska þig.
    2. Hundar eru bestu kæludýrin.
    3. Á morgun mun ég fara til Þýskalands.
    4. Partýið var skemmtilegt af því að tónlistin var góð.

  • No, Danish was never the language spoken in normandy. We know that because we have all the evidence. Normandie means northern part of Maine (area around Le Mans). Norman language is french language, so if you are speaking french, you can understand the old norman texts very well. Normans basically means romans in my culture, an the normans were actually the main enemy of the scandinavians. Primary sources describe the normans as both lavish and greedy. There is also no scandinavian words in norman or placenames in normandy from the viking age. The Norman culture has nothing to do with scandinavian culture. Its the opposite. The germanic words you´will find in norman, seems to be from early iron age even the bronze age

    So why did the french invent all these ridicolous myths? A possible explanation could be that the normans were bastard sons from other areas in france and thus in desperate need of a genealogy.

  • I’m Dane and it’s kinda strange cause I read Swedish but I understand Norwiegan and talks Danish
    Sorry for spelling mistakes

  • Norway and Sweden is jealous because we ind denmark drink beer (min. 4,4% aka "dansk pilsner") when we are 2 y.o and begin to drink brandy (40% brandy like vodka we call "snaps") when we are 12 y.o 😜

  • You know, this whole Danish is hard for other Scandinavians to understand and the potato in mouth thing, actually genuinely makes me depressed. I don't want to be considered more German than Scandinavian, or God forbid, Dutch. It's annoying, really. I should move to Iceland, be taught how to speak proper Norse.

  • It proberly has to do with me having visited Sweden more than Norway, but I generally have a more easy time understanding spoken Swedish (though this mostly aplies to South western Swedish). However, reading Norwegian is very easy, since it just looks like my mothertoung of Danish, but with typos.

  • I am not a native speaker, but I grew up in Norway. I am fluent in Norwegian with a mix of central and northern dialects. Our dialects are truly insane, and that may be why we (Norwegians) understand Swedish and Danish better than they understand us. I like your point 🙂

  • As a native Norwegian I can say quite certainly that I have the easiest understanding Icelandic, but I understand Danish and Swedish quite well as well. The languages are not the only similar thing, as many Norwegians go to Sweden just to go shopping as well, and trips to Denmark to visit family or just have fun happens really often. Our countries have pretty blurred borders as you may find people of the other countries quite far from the border without any effort

  • As a swede I rather just switch to English becouse it's simpler for me to understand rather then slow down my speach but I've never meet a Norwegian or a Danish person but if I have I haven't noticed it.

  • Danish sounds like someone i spewing. It is hard to explain. Danish can anderstand swedish but swedish can not anderstand Danish. Swedish and Norwegian can andestand eathother.

  • I just noticed that 10:18 u said that Swedes spells gillade with a hard G, but no. You actually say gillade with a smooth G. idk how to explain.

  • As a Half swede half dan that was born in Sweden I think this was extremely accurate about things like that we can talk to each other with few difficulties. An example of this was when I was traveling on boat and we met a Norwegian family. We sat down and talked our own languages with each other and understood it perfectly. The only real mistakes about Sweden was the hard g’s because it variates throughout the country. In Stockholm we might pronounce morning morgon while in malmö we pronounce it moroon. Also I thought the part where the computer read up lines like Hundar är de bästa husdjuren did not sound very Swedish. But anyways great video.

  • Hey i’m swedes and im haff thai and i wanna learn japanese…
    And in School i dont learn new words in english just bc i watch so much yt i feel more comterble with english but i cant spell some words right sorry if you dont know what i right …

  • Hi, i just want to tell you, that the written Norwigian was danish. The cause of this, is that when Norway become a country they did not have there own text!! Therefore they got the danish written language, and got there own later that become just about half danish!!

  • I'm learning Swedish for a year now and the other day I was on the tram to Skansen like a classic Swede and this Danish family was talking and I did not understand a thing. But apparently everyone around me did cause they started giggling and talking to each other (which is very non-Swedish btw)

  • As a Norwegian I atleast have a much easier time understanding Danish than Swedish. I feel Swedish sounds really childish xD

  • Im Danish, so if you want me to tell you some Danish, just comment “i want” or something like that

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