Which language is easier for Norwegians to learn: Spanish or German?

Monday, April 13, 2009

See, if you're in Norway German's right in front of you. Spanish is waaay down in the southwest and limited to a single country.

A thread on a forum here has some discussion on this, but I already know what most will think: German. Your average Norwegian is already pretty good at English, and Sweden is just next door so that's quite a bit of exposure to other Germanic languages. None of these use a case system though so that would probably be the biggest obstacle to learning German, but that's nothing compared to the outright unfamiliarity of Spanish.

Now let's see what some of the posts there say:

-I think you'd be best off taking German as it's easiest to learn since there are a lot of similarities to Norwegian there.

- Take German. German is quite easy to understand and to speak, but the grammer is a bit complicated. I don't know any Spanish, but I imagine that it is more difficult to learn since it's completely different from Norwegian.

- But there are more people that use Spanish. I took German myself and regret not taking Spanish.

- (same person two points up) There are more people that use German than Spanish in Europe. There are more that speak Spanish in the world, but I've had more opportunity to use German myself. There are a lot of German tourists here.

- He asked which language is easiest, not which is more worthwhile. German is the easiest...with Spanish there are words of Latin origin that you'll know through English, but grammar is different, and the Spanish verb is a bitch.

The thread goes on for quite a few more posts, but there seems to be general agreement that German is much easier, it's more useful if you're Norwegian and aren't going to a Spanish country in particular, but that Spanish might be better if you're interested in travel to different places, and I would also add that it's also quite useful for gaining a better insight into US politics.

As for the similarities between Norwegian and German, you can see a few examples here. Had English had a bit less Latin influence (let's say about 50% as much) native English speakers would probably be in the same boat. Some examples of words we used to use in English that resemble modern Germanic languages are ingong for entry (no: inngang, de: Eingang), onsyn for face (no: ansikt, de: Gesicht), mere for lake (de: Meer means sea), brucan for benefit from (no: brukbar means useful, also brauchbar in German), and gebetan for improve (no: forbedre, de: verbessern).


Kjetil said...

There is indeed a lot of German tourists here, but not everyone is in the tourist business. I'm living in the south west where we have a lot of German tourists (even a few German streetsigns with "zimmer" and various), but I've only spoken to one or two over the past 5 years.

A point in Spanish favour though, is that it's not common to have Spanish tourists here, but it is _very_ popular to be a tourist yourself, in Spain. You can easily get prices down to €100-€120 for a week or two(!) including hotel & flight to Spain or the Canary Islands, from Norway. This because the flights are popular, and we have planes going several times a week, all year. To take holidays in Germany is not at all that common.

My personal point of view is that German is probably slightly easier than Spanish to learn anyway, but I don't think it is a lot easier. The German grammar is hard no matter how similar the words might be.

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