Anonymous asked: Hi!
I'd like to know if an icelander does not speak norwegian can he understand a norwegian speaker? becuse thiese languages sounds so similar to me
All of the Nordic languages, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Faeroese have a common origin and are very similar. Icelandic and Faeroese (Faeroe Islands) became mostly isolated around 1000 years ago and have changed little since. For this reason Icelanders can read and understand 1000 year old texts from any of these countries, even though today’s inhabitants might be incapable.
Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are today all very similar. These countries took turns ruling each other to some extent through wars and royal marriages. Since Icelandic was cut off, they’ve all been heavily influenced by German and French, both through trade, wars and again royal marriages. Still despite the similarities, people don’t always communicate easily across the borders. They can all read each other’s texts, but pronunciation varies quite a bit. Swedes and Norwegians usually understand each other, but the Danes are further off.
Icelandic and Faeroese are very similar despite minimal contact. Both seem to just have stayed as they were. So today an Icelander and Faeroese can read each other’s languages and communicate.
Icelanders study Danish in school for 4-7 years. We don’t necessarily become fluent during this time, but we can easily read Danish and only need to spend a short while there, studying or working to become fluent. And actually, due to the similarities the same goes with all the other Nordic languages. Icelanders can easily read all the Nordic languages and are quick to become fluent if needed. Since you ask about Norwegian in particular, than of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, Norwegian is the closest to Icelandic. So even though I for example have studied Danish for 7 years and lived in Sweden for 1 year, I still understand spoken Norwegian the best and they tend to understand me. I think it is mainly the pronunciation similarities that help.
A sad thing, I think, is that people from all of these countries very often turn to English when speaking together. Everybody speaks decent English in these countries, but it only requires a little more effort to communicate via your own language and by picking up words and words.