Originally Posted by Viking
Agree with the above except the Norwegians, Swedes and Danes pretty much speaks the same language and will understand each other. Most Finns also speaks Swedish. They all pretty much manage in English, German and French.
Great thread btw....
I agree Norwegians Danes and Swedes will often understand each other ... but I know loads of examples that show that Swedish as the lingua franca of the Nordic countries is a dying historical concept, and they prefer to speak English or to kinda understand each other while talking their own languages rather than actually all speaking Swedish.
My ex wife was Finnish (Swedish Finn, so was fluent in both Swedish and Finnish) and I met her when she was at University in Oslo. Until she learned to speak Norwegian bokmal, when she first arrived in Oslo, she would speak English to the Norwegians. Once she learned Norsk, she spoke sometimes Norsk, sometimes English. Never Svensk.
In an extreme case of the use of English in scandinavia, I know one young Swedish computer programmer from regional Sweden who says he understands his regional dialect of swedish, and Stockholm swedish, but finds other dialects of swedish so hard to understand that he often communicates in english to people from regions of Sweden other than Stockholm or his own. That one shocked me ... A swede who often preferred speaking english to other swedes, subject to dialect. '
Many young Norwegians or Finns I know (dont know about Danes so much) think speaking swedish is old fashioned, uncool and even politically charged - Sweden was a former occupier / ruler of their countries. So hate doing it. If you want to annoy a Norwegian, the easiest and surest way I have found is to call him a swede. Swedes seem to be the number one ethnic victim of Norwegian or Finnish jokes. Both Norway and Finland still have a chip on their shoulder about the swedes standing by and not helping them in WWII as well. I think Swedes loved the idea of their language being the lingua franca of the Nordics, but the other Nordics never did so much - it implied Swedish leadership or primacy - which admittedly was probably the political and economic reality in the past (pre 1990), but definitely not anymore. These days, Swedes are the poor men of the North. Having English as the language of communication between Nordics seems much more neutral and carries less political baggage.
EtronX can chime in here, but I would think a Norwegian speaking to a Swede or Dane would often, these days, speak in English. I imagine most Norwegians understand 90% of Swedish, but for a number of reasons may still prefer to speak English. The average Finn, speaking to a Swede, Norwegian or a Dane will probably speak in English.
I think its a generational thing ... This move to English seems much more pronounced with the young. Older generations of Finns or Norwegians may still prefer inter-Nordic communication in Swedish. But from what I have seen it seems to be a fading habit, not at all popular with the young. The use of English up there is increasing, Swedish decreasing.
There is a good sample of answers from Swedes Danes and Norwegians to a similar topic regarding understanding each other here:
One of the answers quotes a detailed survey of language understanding by Scandinavian nationality ... in every single case (apart from Faroe Islanders), English came out as the best understood language after their mother tongue. (see results below) And in every single nationality without exception, English was a better understood 2nd language than Swedish.
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Interestingly because of the education system they all understood English better as a common language. On a avge language comprehension scale out of 10 the results were:-
Languages ... D = Danish, S = Swedish, N = Norwegian, E = English
Danes - E 6.08, N 4.25, S 3.67
Swedes - E 7.55, N 5.24, D 4.26
Norwegians - E 7.22, S 6.76, D 6.55
Swedish Finns - E 7.66, N 4.76, D 3.64
Finnish Finns - E 5.94, S 3.24, N 1.64, D 1.54
Färoyislanders - D 8.28, E 7.60, N 7.00, S 5.75
Iceland - E 7.17, D 5.36, N 3.40, S 3.34