English is a Scandinavian language

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English is a Scandinavian language

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nov 28, 2012, 2:38pm

This is plausible:


But I have often wondered why Dutch sounds so familiar to me, a native speaker of English.


nov 28, 2012, 3:47pm

I thought that was very interesting!

nov 28, 2012, 4:01pm

Growing up in Kent and messing about in boats both sides of the estuary I had heard of this before. ("You bin en Essex naw Bor!") All the little towns and creeks had very Viking names. Good article.

nov 28, 2012, 4:30pm

Yes, thanks for posting. Don't think it's as simple as the article puts it (and suspect the researchers also don't put it that simply), but the main point is persuasive.

nov 28, 2012, 4:57pm

Although I never achieved fluency, I did study Norwegian at a state university for a couple of years. It was such a relief as an 18 year old to have the easy word order to deal with, after taking Spanish in middle school; I knew there were other ways for a language to be.

And over the years I've wondered at the many similar or same words between English & Norwegian. One missing from the list in the article is datter (daughter)...isn't that a Scandinavian word?

Are English & the Scandinavian languages unique in their word order?

Redigeret: nov 28, 2012, 5:02pm

Here's the Wikipedia article on SVO languages. There are some typical concomitants which are not uniform throughout the world.

Scandinavian words in English have typically been explained by borrowing, say from the conquerors.


nov 29, 2012, 2:53am

That article makes very good points. But English is a complicated carpet woven of strands from Middle French, Old Norse and Old English. I think we will never be able to say that English is just this and nothing else.

nov 29, 2012, 4:03am

>7 anglemark:
My impression is that English as it evolved retained much of the syntax of its Scandanavian roots, with only a little admixture of Welsh (as per Tolkien's 'English and Welsh' lecture), but that subsequently its vocabulary was greatly expanded by, particularly, Norman French (typically, the formation of plurals by the addition of s) and Latin (via Norman French as well as the Church), then, following the literal expansion of horizons from the 15th century and the centuries-long dabbling with Empire, many more loan words from other cultures and languages. (In fact, just look at the vocabulary in that last sentence and estimate how much of it, especially the nouns and the occasional adjective, is Latin-derived; my guess is that most Scandinavian and Germanic languages nowadays also have a similar indebtedness to Latin.)

It now continues to evolve, not only in its main areas of everyday use in the Americas, the Antipodes and back home in the British Isles, but also in its various permutations such as Hinglish in India or pidgin English on the east Pacific rim, and txtspk among its written forms. If only we could look into the future and see where it's all taking us: would be recognise it as English in, say, a century to come, or will it be as unintellibible to most of us as is Chaucerian English or the language of Beowulf?

nov 29, 2012, 4:44am

My impression is that English as it evolved retained much of the syntax of its Scandanavian roots

Yes, this is what the authors of that article are saying, and this is the novum in the proposition, that English must be considered as a language with North Germanic roots and not West Germanic, which has been the received truth since we started to investigate these things 200 years ago.

However, I suspect that the difference between roots and influence may not be as simple as has been traditionally thought -- I think this is the view that most historical linguists are getting around to.

So in the end, I'm not sure that claiming that the roots of Modern English are either North or West Germanic is the whole truth. They might very well be both.

Regarding Chaucer and Beowulf: Chaucer is a breeze to understand compared to the Beowulf poet. Any gifted student can learn to read Chaucer in a few days if they put their mind to it, whereas Old English has to be learned as a foreign language. There is a huge gap in English between 1000 AD and 1200 AD.

(And please do not edit 'unintellibible' - that was a wonderful word!) :)

nov 29, 2012, 4:59am

But even in Chaucer's time. His book is fairly easy to read. Sir Gawain and the green knight is quite difficult.

nov 29, 2012, 5:02am

Yes, of course. Chaucer's dialect is one of the significant bases of Modern English, which makes him much more accessible.

nov 29, 2012, 5:34am

>9 anglemark:
Unintellibible! Thanks! (Pot calling kettle and all that...)

Just read and enjoyed this, as much for the rant as the argument:

dec 5, 2012, 6:18am

A good comment on these claims:


dec 5, 2012, 4:58pm

anglemark, that is a good discussion for so soon after the original article. I wonder whether it will ever be conclusive. From one of the comments I get the question, "Why is English not a creole?"


dec 5, 2012, 5:22pm

The final sentence of the Wikipedia article on creole language says, 'Additionally, Mufwene (2002) argues that some Romance languages are potential creoles but that they are not considered as such by linguists because of a historical bias against such a view.'

Given the number of times in the history of English that there were 2 or more languages influencing each other, I would suspect that the same thing applies.

dec 5, 2012, 5:27pm

I think that's possible, that the powers that be just don't think, possibly couldn't think, of English as a creole so it is not.


dec 5, 2012, 7:42pm

Heh. The part of the definition of a creole that keeps being left out is "that developed after the parent languages were extensively written in and studied". So yeah, I'd say English is a creole - double or triple creole*. But it'll never (or at least, not without major changes in belief structures of linguists) be called one, because those who are identifying creoles don't have that scholarly knowledge of the languages that went to make it up.

*Do you know Torpenhow Hill? Four language's words for "hill" stuck together - from when the first invaders said to a native "What's that called?" and he looked at them funny and said, "Uh, it's a howe..." "Ok, Pen Howe." (or maybe pen was first, not sure. Tor and Hill are the later ones, I know).

dec 7, 2012, 3:31pm

>17 jjmcgaffey:
'Pen' probably first, for chronological reasons: Brythons in Cumbria before the ?Angles/?Scandinavians.

dec 23, 2013, 7:13pm

Denne bruger er blevet fjernet som værende spam.

feb 4, 2014, 7:22pm

English is not a Scandinavian language. English is a Germanic language, as are Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Dutch(closest to English), and German.

Every so often some idiot makes claims like this one.

dec 29, 2018, 4:52pm

The first two paragraphs of the Science Daily article read as follows. (Please note the second paragraph).

"Have you considered how easy it is for us Norwegians to learn English?" asks Jan Terje Faarlund, professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo. "Obviously there are many English words that resemble ours. But there is something more: its fundamental structure is strikingly similar to Norwegian. We avoid many of the usual mistakes because the grammar is more or less the same.

"Faarlund and his colleague Joseph Emmonds, visiting professor from Palacký University in the Czech Republic, now believe they can prove that English is in reality a Scandinavian language, in other words it belongs to the Northern Germanic language group, just like Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Faroese. This is totally new and breaks with what other language researchers and the rest of the world believe, namely that English descends directly from Old English. Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is a West Germanic language, which the Angles and Saxons brought with them from Northern Germany and Southern Jylland when they settled in the British Isles in the fifth century."

dec 30, 2018, 3:10am

>21 Rood: I assume you have read the thread and professional comments on these claims. I'm not sure I understand your comment.

dec 30, 2018, 3:18pm

>22 anglemark: I assumed it was a response to >20 erilarlo:, which didn't seem to read the article, or even understand what a Scandinavian language might be. It's not the clearest name, given Finnish, but a search immediately comes up with a bunch of people using it as a synonym for North Germanic languages.

dec 30, 2018, 5:06pm

Scandinavian languages are the same as North Germanic languages, if you talk to linguists or Scandinavians, yes, that's correct. I'm not sure why it includes Finnish in English-speaking layman terminology. But I don't think I understand #21 despite your attempt to clarify it to me.

dec 30, 2018, 5:31pm

English is a Scandinavian language in the same sense that whales are fish. If all you care about are rough correspondences that experts have learnt to see past: sure. Genetically, no, not at all.

jan 1, 2019, 6:50pm

>24 anglemark: I'm not sure why it includes Finnish in English-speaking layman terminology.

"Scandinavian languages" in non-technical English, identifies the same set as "languages of Scandinavia", and as the national language of Finland, Finnish is clearly in that set.

Redigeret: jan 2, 2019, 2:35am

>26 prosfilaes: Sure, and technically Finland isn't part of Scandinavia. I know that's how English defines it these days, I was just musing on how it ever became so. Well, never mind. That's just how it became. It's still confusing to us Scandinavians, and to the Finns, giving rise to misunderstandings.

jan 2, 2019, 3:22am

>27 anglemark:
I think technically Finland is a Nordic country in English. However common usage by the unwashed public is that it is in Scandinavia.