Recently I’ve been converting cassette recordings for my Colloquial Norwegian course into mp3s. I wasn’t planing to on learning Norwegian just yet, but would like to at some point. I listened to the recordings with half an ear, and glanced at the book now and then, and found that I could make some sense of the written and spoken language, particularly the written language. There are many words that are similar to English ones, especially to words in dialects of northern England and Scotland, and these help a lot.

This has whetted my appetite for the Northern Germanic languages – they seem almost familiar and I like the way they sound – and I might have a go at one or two of them once I’ve finished the Breton and Russian courses I’m working on at the moment.

Snakker du norsk?

This entry was posted in Language, Norwegian.

8 Responses to Norsk

  1. David Eger says:

    Jeg ikke snakker Norsk. But one particularly interesting thing about Norwegian (which, I believe, it shares with Swedish, but not Danish – I don’t know about Icelandic or Faeroese) is its tone system – nowhere near as complex as the tone systems in many E. Asian languages (there are just two tones, I think) – but a tone system nevertheless. That is to say, for certain words, the meaning can change according to intonation.

    How did this come about? Is it an ancient Proto-Germanic relic or a more recent development?

  2. BG says:

    The pitch accent system in Swedish and Norwegian is a relatively recent development that I don’t believe any other Germanic languages share (definitely not Icelandic or Faroese). On the other hand, the original Proto-Indo-European pitch accent can be found in Ancient Greek and Old Church Slavonic, and still survives in some of the Balto-Slavic languages, e.g. Lithuanian and some dialects of Serbian.

  3. David Eger says:

    I wasn’t aware of a pitch accent system in Lithuanian. Apparently Latvian has it too. I spent 2 years in Latvia, and was reasonably fluent in Latvian after a year or so. I had little trouble understanding or being understood, yet I had no idea I was speaking a tonal language.

  4. xistera says:

    On an unrelated note, Simon, what are you using to covert your cassettes?

  5. Simon says:

    Xistera – I have a lead from my cassette player which plugs into my computer, and I record them use Audacity.

  6. xistera says:

    Great, thanks for letting me know!

  7. Richard says:

    I don’t speak Norwegian, however do have a relatively good level of Danish. Norwegian and Swedish are very similar to Danish and hence I can speak these people and hold a reasonable conversation. Norwegian looks very similar to Danish and hence is easier to read where as Swedish looks very different.

    I am very bad at languages generally, however Danish is easier than many other languages as English in inherited much of its grammar from the Vikings, and also many of the words. For example aa is the first word in the English dictionary which means stream – this is the same as å in Danish. A å is actually aa that has been contracted to a single symbol. There are similar examples such as “The Strand” in London is a street that used to run next to the Thames (before the building of the embankment). Strand in Danish means beach (and infact I have seen it used in Ireland as well).

  8. Trond Engen says:

    Jeg er norsk!

    The Scandinavian pitch accent is fairly recent. It’s a result of phonological reductions taking place in the late Medieval period or so. That is, the opposition between the first and second tone (acute and grave in Swedish terminology) is of that age. In the central-northern apocope dialects there’s also a little known third tone, the circumflex, in words that have lost a weak second syllabe, making them different from “true” monosyllables. Or that’s my understanding, anyway.