There are a number of languages in the world that are mutually intelligible. Croats and Serbs can communicate with each other relatively freely, as can Macedonians and Bulgarians, Afrikaners and Dutch people and of course the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians.
Cristina – the Norwegian polyglot
This week I was stayed with another polyglot in Oslo. Cristina participates on the How To Learn Any Language forum that I started writing on when I first got into the online language community. She is an active member there and tries to help other learners where she can. I have always admired not only her ability to use a number of languages to a very high level, but also her kindness towards others.
Going to Norway
OK, so I am in Poland, studying Polish…I know….but the invitation to spend time in Norway with Cristina was too good an opportunity to pass up. With Wizzair tickets at a crazy low prices too, the deal was done!
I had been to Norway before and I spoke in Swedish there without any great problems. The written languages in Sweden, Norway and Denmark are even closer than their oral forms, but people do often ask me…just how close are they? And…which one should I learn first to best understand the rest?
My story with these languages
I went to The University of Hull, where there was a strong Scandinavian studies department at that time. I wanted to study Icelandic, but the only way to do that was to take Swedish. Luckily enough for me it was love at first sight. I was involved in preparing for the Lucia Fest in December, learning all of the words to the songs. My teacher, the co-author of Colloquial Swedish, promised that we’d be fluent in the IKEA catalogue by the end of the first year!
I studied Swedish for two years at university and thoroughly enjoyed it. To be surprise university studies did not mark the end of the relationship.
Swedish from uni and beyond…
After university, Swedish was one of the languages I guessed I would never use. That was true for a year or so, but then I started working with Scandinavians and I began to familiarise myself with the Danish and Norwegian languages, so I could better understand the slight differences to join in fully with conversations. Whilst I never felt confident to speak Norwegian fluently because I found it too similar to Swedish for me, I could have a good stab at Danish. I could also infuse my Swedish with Norwegian words to adapt it to native Norwegians.
I didn’t consider my choice in Scandinavian language as it was chosen for me by default. In this video, Cristina and I talk about this topic and I get attacked by her roses! 😉
What has your experience been with these languages?