Bønder og Bønner - 6 Norwegian courses in 4 languages

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Deinonysus
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Bønder og Bønner - 6 Norwegian courses in 4 languages

Postby Deinonysus » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:29 pm

Do you know where your children are? If you don't know the answer, they may be experimenting with NORWEGIAN!

It starts innocently. They've heard "Let it go" a tusen thousand times. They innocently think that it can't hurt to mix things up and listen to it in Norwegian (that would be "La den gå"). What could go wrong?

And whammo! Peer pressure hits! All the cool kids on their internat forum for language dweebs are doing what they call a 6WT (this is street slang for "Six Week Challenge")! And then suddenly, your child's carefully planned dream of spending more than a month on just one language goes out the window.

Norsk

I tried a 6WC and a Super Challenge once before and I realized I hated tracking my time and dropped out. So I won't be competing officially, but I will be following along unofficially with the many folks who are doing their 6WC in Norwegian.

I'm calling this a 6WC but I'll stop working on Norwegian when I meet one of two conditions:
  1. I finish all of my resources
  2. I get bored of it and switch back to Arabic full-time

That may be more or less than 6 weeks.

So why am I interested in Norwegian? There are several reasons.

Classical Music

I'm into Opera and one of my favorite singers is Kirsten Flagstad, who was Norwegian. She was best known for singing Wagner, but she also had a lot of great recordings of German, Norwegian, and English classical songs.

Here is a recording of Flagstad singing Solveig's Song from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt suite (a couple of its other movements, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and "Morning Mood", are more famous, but this one is great too!):



Similarity to English

Although English is a West Germanic language, it has a lot of vocabulary and features that are closer to the North Germanic languages like Norwegian. Here's a cool video about it:



Reading ability in Danish

From what I understand, written Bokmål Norwegian is around 95% similar to written Danish, so everything I learn in Norwegian should translate directly into reading ability in Danish. There are several categories of Danish reading material that I would absolutely love to read:
  1. Learning materials for Greenlandic. Greenlandic is an Inuit language that is very closely related to Inuktitut, which I have spent some time studying. I would be interested to see how the two compare.
  2. Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales
  3. I would also like to read Ibsen's plays. As I understand it, it was written before there was an official difference between written Danish and written Norwegian, so I guess technically you could say that his plays were written in Danish even though he was Norwegian.
If I love Danish so much, why don't I just learn that instead of Norwegian? Well, I was leaning towards Danish for a while and in fact I have spent some time on it, but one day my wife overheard me practicing the rather guttural tongue twister "rødgrød med fløde" while she was having some serious morning sickness, and long story short, I'm banned from ever speaking Danish in front of her. No offense to all you lovely Danes out there and your awesome language!

Some ability to understand Swedish

Although Swedish's vocabulary is more divergent from Norwegian than Danish's vocabulary, the pronunciation is similar so hopefully I should get some free understanding of Swedish.

Some help with Icelandic

I have dabbled in Norwegian a bit in the past and I've noticed many similarities to Icelandic in grammar and vocabulary. Norwegian seems almost like Icelandic with all the grammar taken out. Icelandic is one of my favorite languages and any bonus that Norwegian gives to my Icelandic would be great!

Some help with German

If I recall correctly, the continental Scandinavian languages borrowed a lot of Low German vocabulary and therefore they share a lot of cognates with German. My meager vocabulary is the main thing holding my German back so it would be great to get some help from Norwegian.

Resources

  • Pimsleur Norwegian: I've used Pimsleur a lot so I know what to expect. I did the first two lessons today, 58 to go.
  • Duolingo Norwegian: I've started this course a couple of times. I'm starting over now. It's a huge course but on the other hand I speak English and German so I can probably go through more lessons per day than Arabic.
  • Langenscheidt Norwegisch mit System: I started going though the first lesson last night. My German is a bit rusty but once I got going I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have much of a problem getting through it. I had my trusty Langenscheidt English-German dictionary next to me and although I did look up several words, I was able to correctly guess the meanings of all but one of them based on a combination of context and recognizing familiar components.
  • Assimil Le norvégien: I just ordered a copy. There weren't any reasonably priced superpacks on my usual US online bookstores, so I ended up ordering directly from the company for the first time. I don't know exactly when it's supposed to get here but I think it should be within a week or so.
  • The Mystery of Nils, Part 1: I've heard lots of good things about this book so I'm looking forward to reading it. My copy should arrive tomorrow.
  • CALST - A great Norwegian resource with tons of phonology drills, offering 8 dialects

I'll start out by going through all of these at once, but I may not be able to keep that up so I'll have to decide which ones to prioritize.

عربي

I've been working on Arabic for about a month, which I've been documenting here. I was about to start Pimsleur Modern Standard Arabic but now that's delayed until after I finish Pimsleur Norwegian. The one Arabic resource I'd like to keep working on while I'm doing this Norwegian project is the Ahlan wa Sahlan Workbook and Beginner's textbook.

Duolingo Arabic diverges from Modern Standard Arabic so the further I can get in my textbook before picking Duolingo Arabic back up, the more of a grounding I'll have in real MSA, which will keep me from getting too confused by Duolingo's custom hybrid dialect. I'll finish up gilding the last few skills I'm working on and then I'll just be on maintenance mode.

The Assimil Arabic course is pretty short so I don't see a problem with dropping it now and picking it back up later. I'll get to the next review lesson and then set it aside for a while.

Français

I would like to try to finally get fluent in French, mainly using FSI Basic French and CLE's Grammaire progressive du français. I was planning on doing that as I finished up with my beginner Arabic resources, but since I'm delaying those Arabic resources, French is pushed back too.

Piano

I got a piano and voice book for Frozen. I figured that since my daughter keeps making me sing "Let it go", I'd might as well learn the accompaniment!

The song is in A♭ and I'm not very familiar with that key. The book doesn't have any fingering markings so my first step will be to practice it using my handy Alfred's The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios & Cadences so I can come up with my own fingering.

Progress-O-Meter™

عربي

: 17 / 77 Assimil L'arabe
: 2 / 6 Ahlan wa Sahlan Workbook

Norsk

: 0 / 15 Langenscheidt Norwegisch mit System
: 1 / 60 Pimsleur Norwegian
: 6 / 860 Duolingo Norwegian
Last edited by Deinonysus on Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Corrections welcomed!

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: 8 / 20 FSI French Phonology
: 9 / 65 Mauger—Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises livre I
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby lichtrausch » Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:29 pm

Deinonysus wrote:It starts innocently. They've heard "Let it go" a tusen thousand times. They innocently think that it can't hurt to mix things up and listen to it in Norwegian (that would be "La den gå"). What could go wrong?

I've watched this video way too many times for a grown man with no children.

7 x

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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby Carl » Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:47 pm

Deinonysus wrote:
Some help with German

If I recall correctly, the continental Scandinavian languages borrowed a lot of Low German vocabulary and therefore they share a lot of cognates with German. My meager vocabulary is the main thing holding my German back so it would be great to get some help from Norwegian.


Yes, lots of cognates! I remember a conversation in Greece with a German woman I was traveling with; we spoke exclusively in English, even though I let on I knew a little German. At the time I had lived almost five years in Sweden; my Norwegian was mostly from occasional visits across the border. She was describing some historical event and was stumped for the English word for "siege." I could tell from the context what she was looking for, and I ventured Belägrung?, which to my knowledge I'd never encountered--I was just applying a simple Swedish/German translation rule to belägring. My guess was close enough to the actual German, Belagerung, that she easily understood--and she was impressed that my German vocabulary encompassed such an uncommon word. :-)

Which is closer to German--Norwegian or Swedish? I had an interesting difference of opinion with a fellow American ex-pat when I lived in Norway. I had lived five years in Sweden before moving to Norway and had been in Norway two or three years at that point. He'd grown up bilingual in German and English, in Germany, and had lived in Norway for more than a decade. So I was more comfortable in Swedish than Norwegian; he was more comfortable in Norwegian than Swedish; and we both had either an acquaintance with German or fluency in it.

In our discussion, it transpired that while I thought Norwegian was closer to German than Swedish was, he thought Swedish was closer to German.

My hypothesis was that our differing conclusions depended on our different backgrounds. When I came across a Norwegian word I didn't know, my mind would look for a Swedish cognate, and if I found it, I'd move right on and not give the matter a further thought. (I probably didn't even notice at the time that I was looking for a Swedish cognate; it was pretty automatic.) If I didn't find a Swedish cognate, but I thought of a German cognate that helped me understand the Norwegian word, it was an "aha!" experience that stuck in my mind. And I didn't give a thought to Swedish words with German cognates, because I simply understood them as Swedish, without resorting to a mental cognate hunt through Europe. So Norwegian's similarities to German were magnified in my mind.

I guessed that his encounters with Swedish were the mirror image: he hardly noticed Swedish cognates with Norwegian or Norwegian cognates with German, but the little dopamine rushes from the times he could understand a Swedish word only through consciously thinking about German helped those experiences stand out in his mind.

I have no idea whether my hypothesis is true, or which of those two Scandinavian languages (if either) is closer to German, but I was pleased to come up with something that made a bit of sense to explain our different perspectives.
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby Deinonysus » Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:10 pm

@lichtrausch: No judgement, it's a really cool video!

@Carl: Those are some awesome stories, thanks for posting! I've been noticing a lot of German cognates like umulig (unmöglich), løse (lösen), and treffe (treffe). The only bad false friend I've seen so far is alt meaning "everything", not "old". I don't have much experience with Swedish so I couldn't say whether it or Norwegian is closer to German.

Norsk

I got my copy of The Mystery of Nils today. There's a short assessment text at the beginning and I could understand almost all of it, meaning: "Probably you have learned a similar language before, or your mother tongue is German, Dutch, Swedish, or Danish. Great! Learning Norwegian will be easy for you." Yippee!

There are 26 chapters and they are all rather short. I could see myself going through a chapter a day, but that depends on how much Anki I'm willing to put up with because there's a decent amount of vocabulary per chapter, although not quite as much as Langenscheidt.

Unfortunately they don't give IPA transcriptions for the vocabulary like Langenscheidt does. But that also means I don't need to keep switching to the Gboard IPA input to enter the vocabulary into Anki, so it's a bit less tedious to get the cards into my Mystery of Nils deck.

I'm doing pretty well with Duolingo. Duome.eu says I should be done with the course in 49 days if I keep up my current pace. That's much better than I thought!

My two longest resources are Pimsleur and Assimil, and they should each take me about 3-4 months to get through. If I am able to keep up using all of my resources at once, that would be quite the Blitzkrieg!

عربي

In the immortal words of Ron Swanson, "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing". With that in mind, maybe I should keep my expectations low for how much progress I can make with Arabic while my Norwegian project is ongoing. Five Norwegian resources at once is a lot. 3-4 months isn't that bad of a break and maybe that will give the Arabic I've learned so far some time to marinate and sink in.

Progress-O-Meter™

Norsk

: 3 / 60 Pimsleur Norwegian
: 14 / 860 Duolingo Norwegian
: 0 / 15 Langenscheidt Norwegisch mit System
: 1 / 26 The Mystery of Nils (Part 1)

عربي

: 19 / 77 Assimil L'arabe
: 85 / 230 Duolingo Arabic
: 2 / 6 Ahlan wa Sahlan Workbook
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby tungemål » Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:19 pm

"La den gå" sounds like a bad translation from English. Somehow doesn't sound right.

Interesting reasons for learning Norwegian. Kirsten Flagstad was famous in her time. If you are interested in opera you should check out the opera that Grieg and Bjørnson planned - "Olav Trygvason". Only a couple of fragments were finished before they fell out with each other. The text by Bjørnson is VERY national romantic, so over the top that it is fun.

Swedish should be easy to learn to understand once you know Norwegian. Only a handful of key words needs to be learned. Icelandic on the other hand - I always think I understand Icelandic when I hear it on TV and see translated subtitles, but in fact it is very different.

Swedish by the way has more loanwords from French, from the time when French was the most sophisticated language you could learn in Europe (the Norwegians were never as sophisticated as the Swedes).

There are strong ties to both German and Low German. Don't forget that those are in fact two different languages. All the Low German vocabulary in Norwegian doesn't help much with German. For instance, snakke (speak) is from Low German, while tale would be from Old Norse. While it is sprechen in German.

Deinonysus wrote:So why am I interested in Norwegian? There are several reasons.
...
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby tangleweeds » Wed Nov 04, 2020 2:27 am

tungemål wrote:"La den gå" sounds like a bad translation from English. Somehow doesn't sound right.
Is this what they're calling the song in the Norwegian version of the music video/movie, then? I bet translating songs is difficult, needing to fit the words for rhythm, rhymes, etc.
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby Mista » Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:17 am

tungemål wrote:"La den gå" sounds like a bad translation from English. Somehow doesn't sound right.

I just went to youtube to check, and I can confirm that it's exactly as bad as it sounds
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby Deinonysus » Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:49 am

I've heard of Olav Trygvason but I didn't realize the librettist was a nobel prize winner! I'll have to check it out.

I'm aware that Low German is different from High German, but if I'm not mistaken the Low German influence does mean that the continental North Germanic languages share significantly more vocabulary with other West Germanic languages such as High German than Icelandic which is more conservatively North Germanic. "Snakke" being from Low German is an interesting tidbit!

That's too bad the "Let it go" translation's no good. Maybe they were trying too hard to make it sound like the English line. I'll probably change the log's title to something that isn't a crime against the language. That is, unless I suddenly switch to French tomorrow so I can start looking for jobs in French Canada for unspecified reasons.
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Re: La Den Gå - Unofficial Norwegian 6WC; also learning Arabic

Postby Nogon » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:22 am

tungemål wrote:There are strong ties to both German and Low German. Don't forget that those are in fact two different languages. All the Low German vocabulary in Norwegian doesn't help much with German. For instance, snakke (speak) is from Low German, while tale would be from Old Norse. While it is sprechen in German.

There is the verb "schnacken" in German. While it has a Northern German "taste", even people from other parts understand it and maybe even use it informally.
I Swedish there is the verb "språka", though according to SAOL (Svenska Akademins ordlista) it is "provinsiellt". A friend of mine, who grew upp in Jämtland, sometimes uses it. "Snacka" also exists, and is used quite frequently. It's more informal than "tala" though.

I don't know whether Swedish or Norwegian has more cognates with German, but would guess on Norwegian, as that is closer to Danish, and Danish definitely has more cognates with German.
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Re: Norwegian Blitz: 5 courses in 4 languages & 4 months

Postby Deinonysus » Wed Nov 04, 2020 3:01 pm

I changed my log title to be a bit more descriptive and to also indicate that I'm dropping Arabic for now. I was going to say that I'm doing courses in 3 languages (English, German, and French), but then I remembered that volume 2 of The Mystery of Nils is monolingual Norwegian, so that's a fourth language.

My copy of Assimil Le norvégien shipped yesterday. Hopefully I will have it this week or early next week.

I was relieved to hear this morning that Pimsleur uses the three-gender system that would usually be used in spoken Norwegian. They gave "the street" as "gata", which is the feminine definite form. The common-gender definite form would be "gaten" (which is the same as the masculine definite form).

So far Duolingo is the only course I'm using that defaults the common-neuter two-gender system that was imported from Danish; however, they will except responses that use the feminine gender. I try to look up every common gender word to see whether it is masculine or feminine. One helpful thing is that if I can remember that a noun has the masculine ending "ur" in Icelandic (such as hundur, hestur, fiskur, or ostur), then that word is probably masculine in Norwegian.

I broke my streak of going to bed early. I was up late nervously playing Duolingo until midnight. Today is going to be a two-tea day.

Things are going very quickly in Norwegian and I'm cautiously optimistic that I may be able to get through a YA novel at the end of this project, although that will depend on me being able to learn a lot of new vocabulary. I've been adding around 100 new Anki cards a day so far to my decks, so based on very early results that does seem to be the case. I want to see if I can get my hands on a Norwegian language copy of Sofies verden (Sophie's World) and I'll see how I do.


Progress-o-Meter™

Norsk

: 4 / 60 Pimsleur Norwegian
: 28 / 860 Duolingo Norwegian
: 0 / 15 Langenscheidt Norwegisch mit System
: 1 / 26 The Mystery of Nils (Part 1)
6 x
Corrections welcomed!

: 172 / 1035 Duolingo French
: 8 / 20 FSI French Phonology
: 9 / 65 Mauger—Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises livre I
: 1 / 27 CLE—Vocabulaire progressif du français (intermédiaire)


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