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Scandinavian languages: an overview

Published on 08/05/2023

Scandinavian languages, also known as Nordic languages, are those derived from Germanic roots such as Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, which come from the same language as English: the Germanic languages, which were introduced across the European continent, Scandinavian and even British after the fall of the Roman Empire.

What was originally a single, large language, the Scandinavian languages adapted to each geographical location to give way to the subdivision of Germanic languages. So, if you want to visit one of these countries for business or pleasure, we explain in more detail each of their different languages.

The linguistic similarity of the Scandinavian languages

Although these languages are similar to each other and tend to look like a dialect, anyone without the correct training could make a mistake in differentiating between Finnish and Swedish. For those who speak some of the languages in this group, they can understand the others to a greater extent.

The evolution of these languages has left great similarities between some languages, such as English and Swedish, where many of the words used in both are the same, but with different translations in some cases.

It can also be noted how the German, English and Swedish languages contain similarities in their dialects, due to their origins in the Indo-European languages that were the first languages developed by human beings.

Having a translator is important

As indicated above, the similarities that exist between these languages can lead to confusion, and since they are part of potential countries that host politicians, health professionals, journalists and multiple professions with languages far removed from the Nordic languages such as: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and even Finnish that require contact with Scandinavian inhabitants in congresses or political meetings, having a translation agency that provides professionals trained in these languages is important to understand each of the important points that arise in these types of scenarios. 

In the case of Finland, Finnish is discarded as part of the Scandinavian languages, even though part of the population has developed Swedish as a second language, there is a predominance of people who do not know it, another reason that leads the inhabitants of this region to rely on the services of a translation company where they master the Nordic languages or, failing that, English, which has been installed in most of the Nordic countries as a second language. 

Nordic language collaboration

The Nordic countries have traditions and histories that are intertwined with each other, which is why they have wanted to keep the Nordic language alive both within and outside the Nordic countries.

Due to the constant modifications and evolutions that the Nordic countries and languages have undergone, such as the fact that they are not considered as a political entity, but that each country is part of different unions, such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland, which are part of the European Union, the Nordic Council is trying year after year to maintain the collaboration of languages in order not to forget everything that gave birth to the Scandinavian languages.

Scandinavian languages understand each other

The fact that these languages come from the same root does not imply that each of them understands each other, as each country moulded the Old Viking language according to its environment until it became what we know today. Even so, it is possible that some of these languages can be understood by people who speak a language belonging to this group, since it is very common to find similarities between them, such as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, whose residents find it easier to understand their language, unlike Icelandic and Faroese, which are difficult for Scandinavians to understand.

In general, despite the differences between these languages, the Scandinavian languages understand each other to some extent, some finding it easier to understand each other in writing due to similar grammar, while others find oral communication easier, as pronunciation is more similar than writing.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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