British English sounds much like the Scandinavian languages

Ed   Sunday, June 06, 2004, 22:32 GMT
I was watching a movie called The Full Monty which is a British movie and I had to turn the captions on because I didn't understand moct of it. The accent was very weird and to me it sounded much like Swedish or Norwegian. The interesting thing is that American doesn't sound like those languages (at least to me). What do you guys think?
nic   Monday, June 07, 2004, 09:13 GMT
Anglo-saxon, there is saxon so it has common points ith germanic, the same for swedish and norvegian, isn't it?
nic   Monday, June 07, 2004, 09:15 GMT
I have been many times in Denmark, danish are culturally close with english.
Damian   Monday, June 07, 2004, 10:30 GMT
There is an historic link between British English and the Scandinavian (Norse) languages resulting from the Viking, Danish, Anglo-Saxon etc invasions from the 8th century onwards. A lot of places names in the eastern parts of Scotland and England are Scandinavian in origin...examples are the many placenames ending in -by. eg Derby Grimsby Rugby. This means a farm or a settlement. Of course Danish and Denmark have had an influence in the development of the English language, along with Norwegian (Swedish less so). The areas of the British Isles closest to Scandinavia (and in later centuries to other parts of Continental Europe) are in the east of the country and have been influenced much more in this way. The Anglo-Saxons (Germanic) and Normans (French) influenced SE England particularly. The west of the British Isles remained exclusively Celtic, having been pushed to these western fringes by the above invasions.

All this had and influence in the development of the English we know today, which has been affected by all these changes more than most other languages over the centuries. Now we have the American influence, whether we like that or not.

An English speaker from 21st century England would be totally unable to communicate with an inhabitant from any time prior to the 15th century...Old/Middle English. These were very similar to modern Scandinavian languages. Even returning to the time of Shakespeare in 16th century would present some fun communication situations. Perhaps even later. British films from the 1930s/1940s show how different standard everyday spoken English seemed then compared with today.....I think it sounds quite funny today.

The Full Monty was set in Sheffield, which is in South Yorkshire, and in the more eastern part of the UK I mentioned above. You would have difficulty understanding the accent as it is very strong and distinctive even today. I suppose some people in the south of England also put the captions on as well in order to understand the northern dialect.
Clark   Monday, June 07, 2004, 11:26 GMT
Nic, that is interesting that you say English and Danish cultures are similar. If you do not mind, what are some of the similarities? Do the people seem the same or similar in their mannerisms?
nic   Monday, June 07, 2004, 13:38 GMT
Hi Clark,

You know the soldiers with the big black hat and the red pant, they never moove and never smile. They have the same in the Denmark, the difference is their pant which is blue. On the beers, cigerettes... it's all the time written by appointment to his majesty the king of Denmark. People use to live in houses with gardens wich look a lot like english houses. When you see mooves there's something similar with english moovies.
The kind of clothes, the "way of life".
The beer they drink look a lot the same, it's not really sparkling.
Their accent and language is scandinavian but not like swedish or noregian, you can hear some common "things" with english accent.

Of course there are some diffenrences, people is usually tall (especially when you are french).
Ed   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 03:06 GMT
the interesting thing however is that one of the guys from full monty (the fat one) plays on a US sitcom and does a great american accent! i didn't even know he was british until i read about it somewhere.
Might Mick   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 07:48 GMT
That's what I always thought... that English in general sounds very similar to something Scandinavian due to the heavy diphthongs in common.

On the hand, German sounds very different to English and Scandinavian languages but lexically, many English words (even though far removed from German) have their common origins.
Nic   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 08:51 GMT
I have read that scottish are an half celtics and an half scandinavian, from Norway to be prrecise, especially scottish who are from islands.
Damian   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 11:00 GMT are right.....the people in parts of northern and eastern Scotland (including my own ancestry) are descendants from the Vikings. Those are the areas closer to Scandinavia. This is especially true of the extreme northern isles of Scotland (The Orkneys and the Shetlands) which are in fact closer to Bergen in Norway than they are to London. The Scandinavian influence there is still strong not only in the names but also in the local people. The tallest people in the UK come from that area as well, a link with the tall, blond Vikings going back to the 8th century.

I have never been to these Islands but I believe the accent is distinctive. Maybe a touch of Scandinavian. I will try and research that before I go there sometime. I hope to go to the USA first though! Now that is exciting....hearing all the variety there in that HUGE country.
Ben   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 17:09 GMT
Scandinavians are, from what I know, the only foreign people who can speak English nearly without an accent. Stellan Skarsgard and Connie Nielsen are both Scandinavian actors who have both spoken with (to my native ears) almost flawless American accents in film.
Ben   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 17:13 GMT
Also, there's a show called "Scandinavian Chef" in which the host speaks near-perfect BBC-style English.
Ryan   Tuesday, June 08, 2004, 17:39 GMT
Damian, I've heard an Orkney accent before and it can best be described as "sing-song Scottish." Basically, it has the tonal variation to it that you hear in a language like Swedish when it is spoken.

Wasn't one of the people who won Big Brother in the UK from the Orkney Islands?