When it comes to Scandinavian languages, many people mention Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Islandic, Finish and Faroese. Everyone single one of them is part of the Nordic languages, except for Finish which belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages. Yet, if we speak of Scandinavian languages only Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are members of this group – to be more precise the Scandinavian Germanic languages group. These three countries create an community in the context of culture and language.


Currently it has approximately ten million users. Besides Sweden, many uses Swedish in Finland, because it is a second official language. Swedish is not that demanding as far as the flection is concerned. Substantives can have two articles and occur in the same grammatical case, however it’s definite and indefinite form may cause some trouble. Adjectives are graduated and remoulded, depending on the form and article. Conjugation is not that complicated and verbs have only one form in every tense; these tenses do not differ significantly from the English ones. The greatest obstacle may be vowels, which spelled incorrectly together with inappropriate catchiness can entirely change a sentence’s meaning or be incomprehensible to a Swedish speaker. Letters are also characteristic for this language: Å [å], Ä [ä], Ö [ö].


Is used by 5.4 million people of course in Denmark, but also on the Faroe Islands and Greenland. It’s conventional variant is rigsdansk, also called rigsmål, in other words the written form of the language. We distinguish three main dialects: Jutlandic, Funen and Zealandic and, what is more, the last one is the most resembling an official language. Just like in Swedish there are two articles, nonetheless there exist a meaningfull difference when it comes to verbs. They are grouped into strong and weak verbs. In the weak ones in the past tense we add -de and -ede ending. In the strong ones, the ending will be -te, in addition they remould in an irregular way. The most important aspect of Danish is it’s pronouciation, and a typical phenomen for this language, namely “stød”, often translated as “shock”. It may well indeed be a shock because this word is a term related to the glottal stop. It is based on jamming in the middle of the word. Some words in Danish vary by only the occurrence or the lack of “stød”. Grammar is considered to the easiest among the Scandinavian languages on the grounds of its simplicity. Of course, we cannot omit the Danish letters which are: Æ [æ], Ø [ø] and Å [å].


Our last Scandinavian language is spoken by 5 million people, yet it is the most diverse because of an enormous number of dialects. There are more than 400 dialects with many differences caused by nynorsk and bokmål, which are two variants of Norwegian. In contrast to Swedish and Danish, there are three articles. In addition, it is the most complex in respect of grammar defined by four verb ending in the past tense, a definite and indefinite form of adjectives and substantives, and their inflection. Despite this, Norwegian is the most universal from the Scandinavian languages, allowing someone to understand most of their neighbours’ mother tounge. In writing it resembles Danish, moreover the alphabet is almost identical. On the other hand, the speech is closer to Swedish, mainly in the contex of catchiness. So nobody should be astonished to see a Norwegian or Swede speaking to each other in their maternal languages.

One language family

Scandinavian languages are very much alike, which enables their users to understand each other to a certain extent. But in my opinion Norwegian is definitely the most universal amongst them in view of the greatest number of similarities. However, no matter which Scandinavian language you learn, every single one of them makes way for easier studying of further Viking languages. 🙂

(translation B.A.)

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