PeterMollenburg wrote: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.
Ha, you're quite welcome Peter! Usually I'd be afraid of doing it too, as I get distracted very easily (e.g., trying to learn French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese in college, and not really getting anywhere), but I was too curious to resist. I definitely get why folks compare learning the close Germanic-type languages to learning the Romance languages.
Off the top of my head, I still remember from last night that Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish all used either "Jag" (I think only in Swedish) or "Jeg" as I, and there were several other words that started popping up as cognates between the three, not to mention the many, many cognates with English. It also became quite clear how different Icelandic was from the main 3, and how Finnish made the main 4 look identical in comparison.
Basically, I found myself really agreeing with the FSI rankings, particularly with the note of how a language like Finnish was typically considered more difficult for an English L1 to learn than a language like Icelandic, despite their both being Level 3/5. For me, the difference was very, very clear. At the same time, within the L1/5 languages, I feel they definitely weren't all exactly the same in difficulty levels.