Maastricht 16 April 2010
Professor Arne Torp
Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies
University of Oslo
English versus Scandinavian
languages in Internordic
Relations
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Som crucial background facts about the
Nordic countries, the languages of the
Nordic countries and the Nordic languages
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Languages of the Nordic countries – language families
Indo-European
Uralic
EskimoAleutic
Germanic
Finno-Ugric
Nordic (= North Germ.)
Saami Baltic Finnic
Sw. Da. No.
(North
Saami,
Far. Icel.
Finnish Greenlandic
Ume Saami,
South Saami…)
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Declaration on a Nordic Language Policy
(signed by the Nordic Council of Ministers 2006)
•
There are six languages in the Nordic countries that are both complete and
essential to society: Danish, Finnish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian (in both
written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk), and Swedish.
•
•
Goals
A Nordic language policy should therefore aim:
• that all Nordic residents being able to read and write the language or languages that are
essential to society in the area where they live
• that all Nordic residents being able to communicate with one another, preferably in a
Scandinavian language,
• that all Nordic residents having a basic knowledge of linguistic rights in the Nordic
countries and the language situation in the Nordic countries
• that all Nordic residents having very good skills in at least one language of
international importance and good skills in another foreign language
• that all Nordic residents having a general knowledge of what language is and how it
works
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Official languges in the Nordic countries
and two areas with home rule
• Denmark, Norway,
Sweden
• Finland
• Iceland
• Faroes Isles
• Greenland
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• Danish, Norwegian,
Swedish
• Finnish (91,5 %),
Swedish (5,5 %)
• Icelandic
• Faroese, Danish
• Inuit, Danish
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Nordic
Insular Nordic
Scandinavian
North Scandinavian
Icelandic
Faroese Norw.
Swed.
South Scand.
Danish
Classification of modern Nordic lang. (in spoken form)
on the basis of similarity
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The main reason why Insular Nordic and Scandinavian
langages are mutually incomprehensible: The Hansetic
merchants came to Scandinavia, but never to Iceland!
• Tailor-the thought that jacket-the fit splendidly, but customer-the
complained and meant that garment-the was short and materialthe unsophisticated and coarse.
• Skredderen tenkte at trøya passet fortreffelig, men kunden klaget
og mente at plagget var kort og tøyet simpelt og grovt.
• De schrâder dachte dat die trôie vortreffelik paste, men de kunde
klâgde und mênde dat die plagge kort was und dat tüg simpel und
grof.
• Klæðskerinn hélt að skyrtan passaði fullkomlega, en
viðskiptavinurinn kvartaði og taldi að flíkin væri stutt og efnið
einfalt og gróft.
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The notion ”neighbor languages”
• General definition:
• Varieties that normally are regarded as different languages
(for national and/or political reasons), but nevertheless are
(to a certain degree) mutually intelligible.
• Neighbor language communication: The trickle of
messages through a rather high level of ‘code noise’.
• Haugen, Einar. 1966. “Semicommunication: The Language Gap in
Scandinavia.” Sociological Inquiry 36:280-297
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What is the negative definition of ”
neighbor languages”?
• If varieties are not mutually intelligible, they are called
”languages by distance” (Abstandsprachen, Heinz Kloss )
• The borderline between the two notions may vary over
time and between individuals within the same language
community.
• The alternative if neighbor language communication is
impossible, is a lingua franca (i.e. in our part of the world
normally English)
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English version of a the text on a toothpaste
tube
Daily use of Aquafresh gives a triple
protection for strong teeth, healthy tooth
flesh and fresh breath. The new improved
formula gives your mouth a fresh feeling.
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The same text in ”Scandinavian”
DK/NO/SE
Daglig brug av Aquafresh ger ett 3-dobbelt
beskyttelse/skydd for stærke tænder/tänder,
friskt tandkød/tandkött og frisk
ånde/pust/andedräkt. Den nye
forbedrete/förbättrade formulan ger
deres/din mun en frisk følelse/känsla.
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- and here marked with ”national” color
symbols
DK/NO/SE
Daglig brug av Aquafresh ger ett 3-dobbelt
beskyttelse/skydd for stærke tænder/tänder,
friskt tandkød/tandkött og frisk
ånde/pust/andedräkt. Den nye
forbedrete/förbättrade formulan ger
deres/din mun en frisk følelse/känsla.
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A short specimen of
Scandinavian languages
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Why Bokmål and Nynorsk?
The reason why there are two language varieties in
Norway, whereas one variety of both Danish and Swedish
is sufficient, is both historical and political. Bokmål is
historically seen a “norwegianized” version of the Danish
written language which was used in Norway since the
time when the country was in political union with
Denmark (from about 1450 to 1814).
Translated from Nordens språk med røtter og føtter, p. 44
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Specimen 1
Varför bokmål och nynorska?
Orsaken till att man har två norska språkformer i Norge,
medan man klarar sig med bara en form av både danska och
svenska, är både historisk och politisk. Bokmål är historiskt
sett en »förnorskad« utgåva av det danska skriftspråket som
användes i Norge sedan den tiden då landet var i politisk
union med Danmark (från ca 1400 till 1814).
From Nordens språk med rötter och fötter s. 44
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Specimen 2
Hvorfor bokmål og nynorsk?
Grunden til at man har to norske målformer i Norge,
mens man klarer sig med én form af både dansk og
svensk, er både historisk og politisk. Bokmål er
historisk set en »fornorsket« udgave af det danske
skriftsprog der har været i brug i Norge siden landet var
i politisk union med Danmark (fra ca. 1400 til 1814).
From Nordens sprog med rødder og fødder s. 44
•
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Specimen 3
Hvorfor bokmål og nynorsk?
Grunnen til at man har to norske målformer i Norge, mens
man klarer seg med én form av både dansk og svensk, er
både historisk og politisk. Bokmål er historisk sett en
»fornorsket« utgave av det danske skriftspråket som har
vært i bruk i Norge siden landet var i politisk union med
Danmark (fra ca. 1400 til 1814).
From Nordens språk med røtter og føtter s. 44
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What are the main differences
between the Scandinavian languages?
•
The differences between South Scand. (Danish) and
North Scand. (Norw. and Swed.) lie in the pronunciation.
This implies that Norw. and Swed. are very similar in their
spoken form, whereas Danish is very different.
•
The differences within North Scand. (i.e. between Norw.
and Swed.) lie in the vocabulary. This means that Danish
and Norw. (particularly Bokmål) are very similar in writing
(written Danish looks almost like Bokmål!), whereas Swed.
is clearly different from both Danish and Norw. in writing.
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Einar Haugen about the relationship
between Danish, Norw. and Swedish:
When Norwegians and Swedes communicate orally, they can
tell what word is being spoken, though they may be uncertain
of its meaning [affär – affære]. When Norwegians and Danes
communicate, they have to listen hard to be sure what word the
other is using, but once they get that, they usually know what it
means [meget – meget]. Or as one wit has put it: Norwegian
is Danish spoken in Swedish.
Haugen: ”Danish, Norwegian and Swedish” (1990)
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INS
Internordisk språkförståelse i en tid med
ökad internationalisering
2003-2004
Internordic language comprehension in a time of increasing
internationalization
2003-2004
pdf-version of the final report:
http://www.norden.org/da/publikationer/publikationer/2005-573
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Places of research and number of (young) informants
(red columns: number of informants tested for comprension of Scandinavian)
(blue columns: number of informants tested for comprension of English)
199
150
147
118
110
104
96
82
79
42
42
37
41
31
53
47
51
41
48
29
31
Torshamn
Jyväskylä
16
Vaasa
Mariehamn
Bergen
Malmö
Århus
Reykjavik
Helsinki
Oslo
Stockholm
Copenhagen
19
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22
Nuuk
48
44
Akureyri
74
Total results
for comprension of Scandinavian
7,01
6,14
4,38
4,20
3,87
4,00
4,19
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Greenland
Iceland
Far. Isles
Finland
Swed. Finland
Norway
Sweden
Denmark
2,14
23
Results for the separate languages
Danish
Swedish
Norwegian
8,28
7,00
6,61
6,21
6,07
5,75
5,36
4,97
4,76
4,15
3,80
3,64
3,53
3,40
3,34
3,24
3,73
2,23
24
Greenland
Iceland
Far. Isles
Swed. Finland
Sweden
Denmark
Greenland
Iceland
Far. Isles
Finland
Norway
Denmark
Greenland
Iceland
Far. Isles
Finland
Sved. Finland
Norway
Sweden
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Finland
1,63
1,54
Teaching of neighbor languages
Hva you studied Danish/Norwegian/Swedish at school?
52,3%
43,2%
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No
A little
Yes
4,5%
Parents and Pupils:
Comparative results
Denmark
Sweden
Norway
7,98
7,92
7,26
6,86
6,62
5,93
6,88
6,73
5,55
4,96
4,54
Da
Da
Sw
Sw
Pupils
No
Parents
Pupils
No
Pupils
Parents
Da
Parents
Pupils
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Da
Pupils
No
Parents
No
Pupils
Sw
Parents
Sw
Parents
3,59
Deterioration of neighbor language comprehension the last 30
years
Denmark
Sweden
Norway 9,10
8,33
7,90
8,05
7,42
6,62
6,43
6,13
5,17
4,64
3,87
Sv
Sv
No
No
Da
Da
No
No
Da
Da
Sw
Sw
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
Maurud 1972
INS 2003
3,41
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The sad story:
Comparative results for comprehension of English versus Scandinavian
languages
red (Scand. speaking areas) and blue (other Nordic areas) columns: English
grey columns: Scandinavian languages
7,66
7,08
7,60
7,09
6,14
6,02
5,70
4,38
4,20
3,87
7,17
7,01
4,00
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Iceland
Far. Isles
Finland
Swed. Finland
Norway
Sweden
Denmark
2,14
28
Attitudes to countries
Would you like to live or study in…
Danes
Swedes
Norwegians
Finns
Icelanders
83,1
78,4
76,9
74,7
65,4
63,7
60,1
54,1
46,9
44,7
49,3
47,4
47,0
41,4
38,6
29,6
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England
Norway
Sweden
Denmark
England
Norway
Sweden
Denmark
England
Sweden
Denmark
England
Norway
Denmark
England
Norway
Sweden
22,2
Attitudes to languages 1
Do you think that Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/English is easy?
Denmark
Sweden
Norway
Finnish Finland
85,9
84,9
83,0
81,0
77,4
73,2
Iceland
58,4
53,9
51,7
49,5
43,4
35,5
33,5
33,2
37,0
18,5
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English
Norwegian
Swedish
Danish
English
Norwegian
Svedish
Danish
English
Swedish
Danish
English
Norwegian
Danish
English
Norwegian
Swedish
13,5
Attitudes to languages 2
Do you think that Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/English is nice?
Denmark
Sweden
Norway
Finnish Finland
Iceland
75,3
66,6
63,5
62,6
69,5
62,5
53,1
50,5
50,0
46,0
49,3 47,6
47,5
47,8
37,7
English
Norwegian
Swedish
Danish
English
Norwegian
Swedish
Danish
English
Swedish
Engish
Norwegian
Danish
English
Norwegian
Swedish
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Danish
28,9
27,8
Why are Norwegians always superior in
Scandinavian neighbor language
comprehension?
Norw. is intermediate between Danish and Swedish
• We have Swed. pronunciation and Dan. vocabulary
• Norwegians are accustomed to linguistic variation.
• Norwegian can be written in two different ways (at least!), and the
dialects are much more widely used than in the neighboring
countries.
• Why this?
• Both facts are consequences of the four
centuries long union between Norway and
Denmark.
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Encouraging facts for the Scandinavian neighbor
language comprehension 1 (particularly
Norwegian / Swedish)
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Encouraging events for the Scandinavian
neighbor language comprehension 2
(only Norwegian / Swedish)
• NRK Alltid Nyheter (NRK News All the Time) cooperates
with Sveriges radio (and BBC) at certain times every day
(and night)
• NRK P2 has a Swedish speaking journalist in one of their
programs (Radiofront)
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Every Friday in prime time at NRK 1
and SVt 1:
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Linguistic practices in multilingual programs like
Skavlan at NRK TV (and SVt?)
• dialogue spoken by participants using the ”national”
language (in Norway regardless of dialect!) has no
subtitles
• dialogue spoken by participants using the neighbor
language (and English) has always subtitles
• Skavlan speaks ”svorsk” (= 98 % Norw. and 2 %
Swedish!) both with Norw. and Swedes
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Internordic oral communication at present
and in the future: A personal assessment
(1)
• The Scandinavian neighbor language community:
•
•
Norwegians will never have any problems with Swedish!
Swedes may have some (but minor) problems with Norwegian
• Conclusion: Norwegians and Swedes will probably continue to
communicate in Scandinavian
•
•
Danes don’t notice the difference between Norw. and Swedish, but they
understand Norwegian (4,2 points) better than Swedish (3,5 points; cf. slide
24 above)
Swedes find Danish hard to understand (and vice versa)
• Conclusion: Communication via lingua franca (i.e. English) will
probably be the normal practice between Danes and Swedes and
possibly also between Danes and Norwegians.
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Internordic oral communication at present
and in the future: A personal assessment
(2)
• My prediction for the Nordic countries outside the
Scandinavian-speaking language area
• Everywhere (with the exception of the Faroe Isles) the
lingua franca strategy with English will be the normal
practice
• This is sad, but probably a realistic prospect
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Slide 1