As an American woman who only speaks English fluently, Norwegian might seem like a curious choice for studying to fluency. I have no family in Norway; I’m not of Norwegian decent; I don’t have a trip to Norway planned anytime soon, so why am I learning this Scandinavian language?
Norwegian is (Relatively) Easy to Learn
I actually have a few reasons for studying Norwegian, and the first and foremost being that Norwegian is generally regarded as one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. Like English, it’s a Germanic language, and has a fair amount of cognates to English words. Additionally, the grammar is more or less straightforward. This is a nice departure from German, which I have attempted in the past, though I never really exceeded A2 level competency.
Norwegian is a Stepping Stone to Other languages
I mean this in a few different ways. For starters, Scandinavian languages are considered to be mutually intelligible. Knowing Norwegian gives you a massive advantage in terms of understanding both written and spoken Swedish and Danish. This site presents a study demonstrating the mutual intelligibility of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish quite nicely. For ease, I’ve copied the relevant information below:
understand 88% of the spoken Swedish language and
understand 73% of the spoken Danish language.
understand 48% of the spoken Norwegian language and
understand 23% of the spoken Danish language.
understand 69% of the spoken Norwegian language and
understand 43% of the spoken Swedish language.
understand 89% of the written Swedish language and
understand 93% of the written Danish language.
understand 86% of the written Norwegian language and
understand 69% of the written Danish language.
understand 89% of the written Norwegian language and
understand 69% of the written Swedish language.
Because Norwegian is a Germanic language, there are also a lot of cognates with German, another language on my learning list. Many people have noted that once you have becoming fluent in a second language, learning a third becomes much easier. I’m hoping to stack this with the similarities between Norwegian and German to be able to more easily learn German in the future.
Norway (and Iceland) Are Gorgeous
There’s really no contesting the beauty of Scandinavia – both in terms of nature and interior design. My husband and I have always said that should we make an international trip together, it would be to either Iceland, Norway or Denmark. So, learning the language of Norway can’t hurt. And yes, for these three countries, Danish might have been a better choice (it is a requirement in Icelandic schools), Norwegian just sounds better to my American ears!
Finally, I really love the aesthetics of Scandinavian design, clothing, and life. I mean, Scandinavian countries consistently rank in the top slots for happiness when compared to the rest of the world. That has to count for something, right? I’m not sure if a love of thick knit socks, simple cozy design and snuggling up near a fireplace on a cold snowy night can help with learning a language, but I sure hope it does!