Norwegians understand other Scandinavian languages the best...and other Scandinavians understand Norwegian the best too

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Østlandet, where Norwegians have the easiest time understanding Swedish.

In this post from last year I sourced a forum post that claimed the following:

Norwegians understand 88% of the spoken swedish language
understand 73% of the spoken danish language

Swedes understand 48% of the spoken norwegian language
understand 23% of the spoken danish language

Danes understand 69% of the spoken norwegian language
understand 43% of the spoken swedish language

Fig. B. An understanding of the written language

Norwegians understand 89% of the written swedish language
understand 93% of the written danish language

Swedes understand 86% of the written norwegian language
understand 69% of the written danish language

Danes understand 89% of the written norwegian language
understand 69% of the written swedish language.

But even though that forum post agreed with my own experiences, it was unsourced and I've always wanted to find an actual study on the matter. Yesterday I found one, from 2004 (it also references a previous study from 1976 so even better). Here's what it says:

Skandinaver snakker nesten samme språk. Men er det nordmenn, svensker eller dansker som forstår hverandre best?
Scandinavians speak almost the same language. But is it Norwegians, Swedes or Danes that understand each other the best?
En undersøkelse utført av Nordisk språkråd prøver å komme til bunns i mysteriet, skriver Dagsavisen. Du har kanskje opplevd om du møter andre skandinavere at det lett oppstår diskusjon om hvilket annet skandinavisk språk man forstår best. Noen nordmenn synes dansk er enklere å forstå enn svensk, mens andre har motsatt oppfatning. Og hva så med svensker. Er norsk eller dansk lettest å forstå?
A study done by the Nordisk språkråd attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, writes Dagsavisen. You might have experienced when you meet other Scandinavians that it is easy to get into the discussion on which other Scandinavian language is best understood. Some Norwegians think Danish is easier to understand than Swedish, while others have the opposite opinion. And what about Swedes? Is Norwegian or Danish easiest to understand?
- Nordmenn er skandinaviske mestere i nabospråkforståelse, sier Arne Torp til Dagsavisen.
- Norwegians are the masters in Scandinavia in understanding neighboring languages, says Arne Torp to Dagsavisen.
Han er førsteamanuensis i nordisk ved Universitetet i Oslo og har deltatt i utformingen av en språktest som er gjennomført i Norge, Sverige og Danmark.
He is an associate professor in Nordic at the University of Oslo and has taken part in the designing of a language test conducted in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Nordmenn, svensker og dansker fikk se en sekvens av tv-programmet «Vil du bli millionær», de fikk lese en avisnotis og høre på en nyhetssendig. Testgruppene fikk poeng ut fra hvor dyktige de var til å forstå hva som ble sagt og skrevet. 60 poeng var full pott.
Norwegians, Swedes and Danes saw a sequence of the tv program "Who wants to be a millionaire", read a newspaper notice and listened to a news broadcast. The test groups received points for how well they understood what was said and written, with a maximum of 60 points.
Undersøkelsen viste at nordmenn hadde størst forståelse av de nordiske språkene. Nesten en tredel bedre forståelse av de andre språkene enn svensker og dansker ble status når poengene var talt opp. I 1976, da man foretok en lignende test, kom også nordmenn best ut, skriver Dagsavisen.
The survey showed that Norwegians had the greatest understanding of the Nordic (Scandinavian) languages. They had almost one third better understanding of the other languages than Swedes and Danes when the points were added up. Norwegians also did best in 1976 when a similar test took place, writes Dagsavisen.
Undersøkelsen viser at både svensker og dansker synes norsk er enklest å forstå. I Sverige er det slik at de synes nynorsk er enklere å forstå enn bokmål. Trolig skyldes det at svenskene har problemer å forstå dansk, og bokmål har større innslag av dansk språk enn nynorsk. Nordmenn forstår litt bedre svensk enn dansk, viste undersøkelsen.
The survey shows that both Swedes and Danes see Norwegian as the easiest to understand. In Sweden they found Nynorsk to be easier to understand than Bokmål (note: these are the two official standards of the Norwegian language. Bokmål is used by the majority and looks a lot like written Danish). Perhaps that is because Swedes have problems understanding Danish, and Bokmål has a greater Danish element than Nynorsk. The survey showed that Norwegians understand Swedish a bit better than Danish.
Forståelsen av norsk har bare økt siden 1976, spesielt forstår svensker nordmenn bedre nå enn før.
Understanding of Norwegian has only increased since 1976, especially where Swedes understand Norwegians better now than before.
- Det at vi har blitt rike på olje og at svenske arbeidere kommer hit for å arbeide kan ha endret synet på det, sier Torp til Dagsavisen.
- The fact that we've become rich in oil and that Swedish workers come here to work may have changed the outlook on it, said Torp to Dagsavisen.
Undersøkelsen viste også at de som bor på Østlandet forstår svensk veldig godt. Trolig skyldes det at de har lett tilgang til svensk tv og at dansebandmusikk er populært på Østlandet.
The survey also showed that those living in Eastern Norway understood Swedish quite well. This is probably because they have easy access to Swedish television and that dance music is popular in Eastern Norway.

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