Imagine a World Where Everyone is Trilingual!
It is no secret that there are many similarities among Scandinavian languages—from the unique characters to the sounds, they are among the more distinctive languages in the world. Danish and Norwegian are the most closely related, although it is common for speakers of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish to be able to understand each other.
Finnish is a different story, as it traces its roots to Eastern Europe as opposed to Scandinavia, and Icelandic and Faroese are outliers as well. But never mind the details—similarities exist, especially among the Big Three.
However, it is a testament to the language skills of Scandinavians that despite their understanding of their neighbor’s tongues, they often choose to converse among each other in English. Much like British English, American English and maybe the American “southern accent” sound much different, often to the point of difficulty to understand, the different Scandinavian languages have different ways of pronouncing sounds. Danes say that Norwegians “sing” their words, while Norwegians say that Danes talk “as if they were chewing a potato at the same time.” As a result, despite their ability to understand, it is often easier for them to just shift into English.
What a luxury it must be—not only to be able to speak our own language and that of our neighbors, but English as well. So much for being proud to be “just” bilingual!