A Scandinavian language

Stefaniel P Spaniel   Fri Aug 26, 2005 12:30 pm GMT
There seem to be awhole range of factors which influence the perceived mutual intelligibility of a language, or whether it is considered a seperate language or dialect.

Differences in phonology which severelly limit cross-intelligibility tend to be played down and similarities in grammar or the roots of words put in the foreground. So saying that West Frisian is part of a different (hypothetical) branch of the west Germanic tree is perhaps less relevant than simply observing how much of it the dutch understand, compared to other languages in 'their' group.

Or something.
Sander   Fri Aug 26, 2005 12:39 pm GMT
Thing is... the West Germanic side is just ... weird :-)

-English , a Germanic language with maybe more Latin words than French.

-Frisian, a language of which people say it's more Dutch/German than Frisian anymore.

-Dutch, a language with possibly the hardest pronounciation in IndoEuropean branch.

-German, the most 'normal' language in the branch, but it also has the hardest grammer...

- Afrikaans , a language with only 2 verbs that use infliction.

Isn't it great ?!
Stefaniel P Spaniel   Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:06 pm GMT
And possibly 'Scots' which derives from the Angles, not the Saxons. And we don't really even know who they were!
Sander   Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:12 pm GMT
Who? the saxons?
Steve P Spameater   Fri Aug 26, 2005 1:44 pm GMT
No, the Angles.

In fact we don't even know what angles they were. 90 degrees? 45 degrees? Obtuse?

And did they invent angling, which perhaps explains why it is so popular in Britain?
Travis   Fri Aug 26, 2005 4:50 pm GMT
There is also:

-Low Saxon, probably the most "average", and the most phonologically conservative West Germanic language, which just happens to be in the process of being Germanicized/Dutchified like the Frisian languages
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:05 pm GMT
Everybody talks about Norwegian and Swedish as being "sing-song" languages. But do you know why? Because we have two tones, whereas most European languages have only one. In Europe only Norwegian. Swedish, the West Germanic Limburg dialect, Lithuanian , Slovenian and Serbocroatian have two tones.

We use the two tones to distinguish between words that would otherwise be pronounced similar.

Tone 1:
Bønder (farmers), pronounced BÖnnehr, with stress on the first syllable.

Tone 2:
Bønner (beans), pronounced BÖhn-NEhr, with stress on both syllables.

Most dialects in Norway and Standard Swedish have these two tones, but Finnish Swedish lacks them, thereby making this dialect sound like very monotone Swedish. Standard Danish also lacks them (it has "stød", a glottal stop instead), but they are supposed to exist in Southwestern Jutish. Icelandic and Faroese also have only one tone, and therefore many Norwegians think Icelandic sounds like the monotone Finnish or Italian languages.

Interestingly, Old Norse most probably had only one tone. The two tone systems thus developed a few hundred years ago, perhaps because of the development of the definite article as a suffix, something that created minimal pairs like:
lokit = locked = shut (now tone 2)
lokit = lok-it = the lid (now tone 1)
In early Old Norse this was not a problem, as the definite article was mostly a prefix, hitt lok = the lid.
Sander   Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:14 pm GMT
Has Swedish got so many synonyms then?
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:19 pm GMT
I think so.
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Aug 30, 2005 3:21 pm GMT
I wrote:
Standard Danish also lacks them (it has "stød", a glottal stop instead), but they are supposed to exist in Southwestern Jutish

It's supposed to be:
southEASTERN Jutish!
Easterner   Sat Sep 03, 2005 10:23 am GMT
<<In Europe only Norwegian. Swedish, the West Germanic Limburg dialect, Lithuanian , Slovenian and Serbocroatian have two tones. >>

Make it four for Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian (possibly also for Lithuanian, but I'm not sure about this).
Uriel   Sun Sep 04, 2005 4:22 am GMT
I never thought of Scandinavian as having tones, but that explains it so well!
Fredrik from Norway   Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:23 pm GMT
Is there any word where the four different tones give four different meanings?
Travis   Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:57 pm GMT
Generally, the tonal North Germanic languages are more tone-stressed in natural rather than truly tonal, with actual tonality tending to be rather marginal in nature, all things considered. For another example of a tone-stressed rather than tonal language is Japanese, which lacks tones in the sense of such which exist in the Chinese languages.
suomalainen   Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:38 am GMT
Why have some languages become more simple and some others not?
Among the Germanic languages the Continental Scandinavian languages, English and Afrikaans have simplified most the declension of words while Icelandic, Faeroese and German have retained more of the complicated grammar. One explanation to the simplification could be this: Swedish, Danish and Norwegian have got closer to each other through the impact of Low German. Now majority of the vocabulary in these languages is in fact Low German (Swedish ungefär, plötsligt, förening, anfalla osv.). During the golden era of the Hansa League there were lots of Low German merchants in the biggest cities in Scandinavia, and they made up a kind of upper class. When they learnt Scandinavian, they didn´t learn it properly but simplified the grammar. The common people who admired the rich merchants began to imitate their speech, and thus the modern Scandinavians speak now this "mislearnt tongue of the Low German merchants".
English was also simplified when the Insular Celts changed their language but found their new language (Old English) too difficult if not made more simple. Afrikaans is the most simplified language by grammar among the Germanic languages. According to this theory, the language of The Boers got this shape when adopted by the non-whites in South Africa who made the extra curves of the grammar straight.