Easiest Scandinavian language to learn?

carrier   Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:17 am GMT
A question for native speakers of Scandinavian languages, or for anyone who has studied one or more of those languages:

Which of the three main Scandinavian languages--Swedish, Norwegian (Bokmål), or Danish--is the easiest for a non-Scandinavian speaker to learn? I'm not talking about the most understandable (e.g., Norwegians can read Danish and understand Swedish.) I mean the easiest to learn in terms of pronunciation, orthography, grammar, etc.

I get the idea that Danish is the most difficult in terms of pronunciation, but I hear differing reports on whether Norwegian or Swedish pronunciation is harder, or matches the writing system better, or if modern Norwegian really has three genders, etc.

Any ideas on this are most appreciated.
OïL   Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:35 am GMT
Swedish is the easiest. Very clear, easy to grasp, very intuitive, very musical, and it flows beautifully.

Sw. phonetics has some unique features like the famous sje-sound (a sort of strongly aspirated sh-sound that often contains a slightly guttural component, but you can use a standard sch-sound instead).

There's also the somewhat subtle distinction between long <y> and long <u>, like in <kyl> and <kul>: both vowels sound similar to Fr. <u> or Ger. <ü>, except that (unlike long <u>), the <y> in <kyl> is a little bit more labial and consequently softens the preceeding <k> in a palatal 'tje'-sound — but that's really no big deal.
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:01 am GMT
Why people always forget Finnish when they talk about Scandinavian languages? I vindicate Finnish as the most beautiful and authentic Scandinavian language.
furrykef   Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:16 am GMT
Because Finnish is not a Scandinavian language, but a language spoken in Scandinavia. That may sound silly, but the question is more about language families than it is about geography.

- Kef
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:19 am GMT
I didn't hear of the Scandinavian family of languages. I always thought of Dannish, Norweigan and Swedish as being languages of the North Germanic branch.
Adolf   Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:20 am GMT
Umm, also Denmark is not even located in the Scandinavian Peninsula.
thomas   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:23 pm GMT
Scandinavia is Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Finland is not part of Scandinavian. Furthermore, Finnish is not related to the other three languages at all, so why should someone wanting to learn a Scandinavian language have any interest in Finnish?

All three languages are very similar, therefore it doesn't really matter which one of them you choose to learn. But if you want to continue your studying and perhaps learn the two other languages, then I think you should start out with Norwegian, since it's the language in the middle. (shares vocabulary with Danish, but it's orthography is more related with Swedish)

And it is true that Denmark is not a situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula, but that doesn't have anything to do with the discussion. And you have to remember that what is now Southern Sweden used to be East Denmark back in the day .
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:31 pm GMT
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English :

SCANDINAVIAN: of the countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, FINDLAND and Iceland in northern Europe, or their people or languages.
thomas   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:33 pm GMT
well, that is not true.

Scandinavia is Denmark, Norway and Sweden

The nordic countries are: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Sorry to say this but your information is unreliable.
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:34 pm GMT
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English :

SCANDINAVIAN: of the countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, FINLAND and Iceland in northern Europe, or their people or languages.
thomas   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:37 pm GMT
may i ask you where you are from?
furrykef   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:40 pm GMT
The definition of "Scandinavian" can mean different things in different contexts. In this context, the poster is clearly not talking about Finnish; the poster is interested in the family of languages, not where they are located.

"Scandinavian languages" isn't the same thing as "languages of Scandinavia", which I would consider to include Finnish. "Scandinavian" here refers to a category of languages, not a geographical location, but "of Scandinavia" is unambiguously geographic.

- kef
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:46 pm GMT
I don't see how can my nationality be relevant in the discussion. Can't I talk about this subject If I am not Scandinavian? That is what I found looking up the word Scandinavian in the dictionary, and it supports my statement about Finnish being a Scandinavian language.
thomas   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:54 pm GMT
well forget about the nationality then

i guess the poster wanted to know which scandinavian language is the easiest to learn. finnish isn't an option since the language itself doesn't have anything in common with the languages of sweden, norway and denmark, which means that it is not a scandinavian language.
Adolfo   Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:06 pm GMT
I understood since the first moment that the poster referred to a group of languages where Finnish is excluded, but in my opinion, it is not correct to say Scandinavian languages to refer to North Germanic languages spoken in Scandinavia. I would say Germanic Scandinavian languages to avoid confusion, because Finnish is a language spoken in the Scandinavian Peninsula and therefore a Scandinavian language.