Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:55 am

AdamD wrote:I think the article demonstrates that the belief in a language's ease or difficulty is inversely proportional to the authors knowledge of language learning. This type of article also sounds a bit like a get-rich-quick scheme, like there's a super easy way to learn an L2 and make your friends jealous.


There is truth in what you say perhaps, but I don't think it's without merit to state that generally speaking, Norwegian is an easier language to learn for native EN speakers than many other languages based on it's close ties to English, simpler verb conjugations (than many other languages) and so on. I'm starting to wonder if a lot of opposition to such statements originates in the use of the word/terms 'easy', 'easier' etc which for me could probably be replaced with 'takes less time' is 'faster to learn'.

Language learning takes a lot of time, but some languages for native English speakers are quite simply more closely related to English or not, and this is a big factor (not taking into account each individual's subjective experience/situation/intelligence) in how long (or 'easy') it is to learn any given language. FSI and such charts take this very thing into account with their time estimations.

The author is perhaps making it sound too easy, but maybe that comes from an angle of encouragement. However it could be as you implied, that the author has insufficient experience on the matter. Still I agree with the author without experience of actually learning Norwegian, that it appears to be an easier language to learn than many others.
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby IronMike » Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:59 am

Hate these types of articles as they misinform and don't even take into account learners' attitudes, previous learning, abilities, etc. Hell, one could say the easiest language [for an English L1 speaker] to learn is the language s/he clicks with and enjoys learning!

And really, isn't this just a debate about linguistic distance?
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby Brian » Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:57 am

YtownPolyglot wrote:
On the other hand, how likely are Norwegians to respond to you in Norwegian if you speak Norwegian to them? If everybody wants to use their English on you, it is tougher to learn.


I've always found that this argument tends to be used by people who are in an immersive environment but haven't really made the progress with the language that they ought to have done. They flip things around by blaming the natives rather than examine their own shortcomings.

Oh, well I've tried to learn the language but they prefer to speak English all the time....
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:30 am

Brian wrote:
YtownPolyglot wrote:
On the other hand, how likely are Norwegians to respond to you in Norwegian if you speak Norwegian to them? If everybody wants to use their English on you, it is tougher to learn.


I've always found that this argument tends to be used by people who are in an immersive environment but haven't really made the progress with the language that they ought to have done. They flip things around by blaming the natives rather than examine their own shortcomings.

Oh, well I've tried to learn the language but they prefer to speak English all the time....


Yep, one seemingly obvious solution to this problem is to learn more of .... language so the locals will be less likely to revert to English.
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby iNate » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:12 am

Brian wrote:
YtownPolyglot wrote:
On the other hand, how likely are Norwegians to respond to you in Norwegian if you speak Norwegian to them? If everybody wants to use their English on you, it is tougher to learn.


I've always found that this argument tends to be used by people who are in an immersive environment but haven't really made the progress with the language that they ought to have done. They flip things around by blaming the natives rather than examine their own shortcomings.

Oh, well I've tried to learn the language but they prefer to speak English all the time....

There is so much wrong with your line of thought, understanding of different situations... not to mention it just sounds extremely abrasive (borderline rude).

The issue has nothing to do with the Natives. It has to do with current world economic climate. English is a dominant language, there are probably more people learning English as a second language than any other language on Earth. This makes it challenging to get a better immersion experience as an English speaker because foreigners can often known very easily that you're from the United States and if they want to practice their English, they will try.

Additionally, Americans have greater economic pressure on them when they travel to Europe for immersion. It is *significantly* more expensive to Fly from here to Berlin (as an example) than it is to fly from Scotland to Berlin. By that I mean ~$270 vs. ~$970. For the price of just the plane ticket we need, you can fly over and spend a weekend, because there is barely any change in time zone and the flights are rather short. We often need to spend more, because it isn't worth it to go for "too short" of a time period due to the cost - especially if you have a life outside of "learn some languages."

When you add this to the "perceived situation" (which is often the reality, but often a collections of misunderstandings), it leads to things like what the person originally quoted said. It's also why a lot of people here don't learn a language unless they have to, or unless they actually live in an environment here which would enable it to happen more organically.

There was a time in history when other languages were in a similar situation to English (nowadays). French and Latin come to mind (speaking mostly of Europe).
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby Finny » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:17 am

All right, I went and checked this out, comparing a similar language sample about 4 minutes long across Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Finnish (the 5 big Scandinavian languages). I'd never formally studied any of the languages before, and I basically listened to a sample with L2 and L1 (English) subs, and then listened to the same sample again with just L2 subs, and went through all 5 languages. In order of easiest to most difficult, it was...

1. Norwegian (I felt like I was reading / listening to English several times, and started learning basic words)
2. Swedish (very close behind)
3. Danish (significantly less transparent than Norweedish and more difficult to remember what the L2 subs were after removing the L1 subs)
4. Icelandic (much harder than Danish, with very few L2-L1 connections made, although I did get a few)
5. Finnish (almost completely opaque...as far from Icelandic as Icelandic was from Danish in difficulty increase)

So out of the Scandinavian languages, at least, Norwegian was definitely the easiest to learn a few words from through a very short trial with native-speed, adult-level comprehensible input. Comparing it to other languages I've spent relatively little time with that would also be Level 1/5 or 1/4 languages for a native English speaker, it was more difficult than Catalan (which seems almost as comprehensible as Portuguese and about as comprehensible as Italian), but I get the feeling that I'd be able to make quick progress in it (or in Swedish) if I watched TV in it and read a lot of books...which is basically my current strategy for learning French.

So in my experience, at least, I'd definitely rank it as one of the most instinctively familiar languages I've ever looked at as a native English and advanced Spanish speaker. I was surprised at this, as of the Scandinavian languages, I'd spent the most time in the past with Finnish (I used to listen to a band as a child named Varttina despite not understanding a word) and Swedish (looking at a few Swedish words here and there in the Swedish books in IKEA).
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:24 am

Finny wrote:All right, I went and checked this out, comparing a similar language sample about 4 minutes long across Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Finnish (the 5 big Scandinavian languages). I'd never formally studied any of the languages before, and I basically listened to a sample with L2 and L1 (English) subs, and then listened to the same sample again with just L2 subs, and went through all 5 languages. In order of easiest to most difficult, it was...

1. Norwegian (I felt like I was reading / listening to English several times, and started learning basic words)
2. Swedish (very close behind)
3. Danish (significantly less transparent than Norweedish and more difficult to remember what the L2 subs were after removing the L1 subs)
4. Icelandic (much harder than Danish, with very few L2-L1 connections made, although I did get a few)
5. Finnish (almost completely opaque...as far from Icelandic as Icelandic was from Danish in difficulty increase)

So out of the Scandinavian languages, at least, Norwegian was definitely the easiest to learn a few words from through a very short trial with native-speed, adult-level comprehensible input. Comparing it to other languages I've spent relatively little time with that would also be Level 1/5 or 1/4 languages for a native English speaker, it was more difficult than Catalan (which seems almost as comprehensible as Portuguese and about as comprehensible as Italian), but I get the feeling that I'd be able to make quick progress in it (or in Swedish) if I watched TV in it and read a lot of books...which is basically my current strategy for learning French.

So in my experience, at least, I'd definitely rank it as one of the most instinctively familiar languages I've ever looked at as a native English and advanced Spanish speaker. I was surprised at this, as of the Scandinavian languages, I'd spent the most time in the past with Finnish (I used to listen to a band as a child named Varttina despite not understanding a word) and Swedish (looking at a few Swedish words here and there in the Swedish books in IKEA).


Thanks for sharing this Finny. It's not something I had thought about doing nor perhaps would want to 'risk' doing, as I'd be highly likely to add at least one of them to my 'currently learning' sphere and keep on going.
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby smallwhite » Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:36 am

vogeltje wrote:also Dutch must be very easy for English speakers.

This is a dangerous thread to read. I borrowed "Hugo Dutch in 3 Months" from the library last night :roll:
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby Serpent » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:48 am

iNate wrote:
Brian wrote:
YtownPolyglot wrote:
On the other hand, how likely are Norwegians to respond to you in Norwegian if you speak Norwegian to them? If everybody wants to use their English on you, it is tougher to learn.


I've always found that this argument tends to be used by people who are in an immersive environment but haven't really made the progress with the language that they ought to have done. They flip things around by blaming the natives rather than examine their own shortcomings.

Oh, well I've tried to learn the language but they prefer to speak English all the time....

There is so much wrong with your line of thought, understanding of different situations... not to mention it just sounds extremely abrasive (borderline rude).

The issue has nothing to do with the Natives. It has to do with current world economic climate. English is a dominant language, there are probably more people learning English as a second language than any other language on Earth. This makes it challenging to get a better immersion experience as an English speaker because foreigners can often known very easily that you're from the United States and if they want to practice their English, they will try.
...
When you add this to the "perceived situation" (which is often the reality, but often a collections of misunderstandings), it leads to things like what the person originally quoted said. It's also why a lot of people here don't learn a language unless they have to, or unless they actually live in an environment here which would enable it to happen more organically.

There was a time in history when other languages were in a similar situation to English (nowadays). French and Latin come to mind (speaking mostly of Europe).

Well, some people do use this argument to justify their own failures, but I agree that it's not always the case. It also happens to non-native English speakers (see Cavesa's posts about French). In some cases it happens to those who've achieved a very high level.
Also, it does have to do with the natives, regardless of whether this depends on their level of English (or another language), or you need to convince them, etc...
It's a huge topic that deserves its own thread (and there has been more than one).
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Re: Is Norwegian the easiest for an EN native speaker?

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:59 am

smallwhite wrote:
vogeltje wrote:also Dutch must be very easy for English speakers.

This is a dangerous thread to read. I borrowed "Hugo Dutch in 3 Months" from the library last night :roll:


I know you're a fan of the "Hugo ... in 3 Months" series, as am I. Of the four I have used (completed 2, 2/3 of the other 2), I felt the Dutch one to be my favourite... veel success!

Edit: Is it a tad mischieveous of me to like the fact that Dutch via this thread is tempting you?
Last edited by PeterMollenburg on Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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