Confusion Between Similar Languages

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Michael » 2017-01-06, 22:10

I just happened to have watched a video clip from a Swiss version of the "country X's Got Talent" shows, and I could tell it was German, but it had a more guttural, Dutch-reminiscent quality to it than the little I've ever heard of Hochdeutsch, so I could at least tell they were speaking very colloquially on the show, hence in some dialect of Schwyzerdütsch.
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Prowler » 2017-01-06, 23:21

Aurinĭa wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
Prowler wrote:I used to think it was impossible to make such confusions unless you didn't speak either language at all or weren't used to them... but there's been times I've mistaken someone speaking Dutch for a German dialect.

Swiss German sometimes sounds like Dutch to me.

:lol: That's probably the furthest away you could get from Dutch while still being German!

I once heard a group of teenage girls speak what I thought was Danish. It took me several minutes of careful listening to realise that I wasn't, in fact, trying to comprehend a language with a notorious pronunciation that I had only studied for a few months some years earlier, but my own mother tongue.

Prowler wrote:Oh and I tend to confuse written Danish and Norwegian. That's a classic.

That's common even for people who actually know those languages. Depending on the variety of Norwegian used, you could need several sentences, with specific words or types of phrases, to distinguish between them.

It seems Danish words are usually shorter, I guess?

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-06, 23:25

Things like what Aurinĭa described with the two girls must happen to me all the time. They happen in the opposite direction, too, where I assume two people are speaking English, but they aren't. Even Indians speaking English can fool (and have fooled) me very easily sometimes.

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Johanna » 2017-01-07, 0:09

Prowler wrote:It seems Danish words are usually shorter, I guess?

Danish uses æ a lot more, kj a lot less (if at all), stems frequently end in -d or -g where Nowegian has -t or -k, and it sprinkles its words with that d that denotes the stød. I think Norwegian also doubles its consonants after and between vowels a bit more, even where Danish doesn't have stød. Oh, and Danish ej is usually ei in Norwegian, while øj is øy.

læse vs lese (to read)
kende vs kjenne (to know, as in be familiar or acquainted with)
gade vs gate (street)
sprog vs språk (language)
vej vs vei (road)
tøj vs tøy (clothes)

The preposition af is a tell-tale sign as well, it's av in Norwegian. I also often get the feeling that Danish uses more obvious loan words, and it definitely doesn't respell them according to its own rules as often.

It's only Danish and (conservative) Bokmål that are this similar, native speakers pretty much never mistake any of them for Nynorsk, or vice-versa, even when there's just a short sentence. Nynorsk is too full of diphthongs where those two have monophthongs, like in the indefinite articles, not to mention that most personal pronouns are different instead of only the 2nd person plural.

Radical Bokmål is usually easy to tell apart from Danish too: it, just like Nynorsk, uses three genders while Standard Danish only ever has two, so if you see the indefinite article ei or the definite suffix -a you know it's Norwegian.
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Prowler » 2017-01-07, 1:26

Johanna wrote:
Prowler wrote:It seems Danish words are usually shorter, I guess?

Danish uses æ a lot more, kj a lot less (if at all), stems frequently end in -d or -g where Nowegian has -t or -k, and it sprinkles its words with that d that denotes the stød. I think Norwegian also doubles its consonants after and between vowels a bit more, even where Danish doesn't have stød. Oh, and Danish ej is usually ei in Norwegian, while øj is øy.

læse vs lese (to read)
kende vs kjenne (to know, as in be familiar or acquainted with)
gade vs gate (street)
sprog vs språk (language)
vej vs vei (road)
tøj vs tøy (clothes)

The preposition af is a tell-tale sign as well, it's av in Norwegian. I also often get the feeling that Danish uses more obvious loan words, and it definitely doesn't respell them according to its own rules as often.

It's only Danish and (conservative) Bokmål that are this similar, native speakers pretty much never mistake any of them for Nynorsk, or vice-versa, even when there's just a short sentence. Nynorsk is too full of diphthongs where those two have monophthongs, like in the indefinite articles, not to mention that most personal pronouns are different instead of only the 2nd person plural.

Radical Bokmål is usually easy to tell apart from Danish too: it, just like Nynorsk, uses three genders while Standard Danish only ever has two, so if you see the indefinite article ei or the definite suffix -a you know it's Norwegian.

Isee .thanks.

It's funny to me how Norwegians consider Swedish to be more similar o their language when Danish seems to have morw similar vocabulary to Norwegian, at least to me. Same for verb conjugations. I guess the phonetics are what set them more apart.

For the record, this Norwegian guy I talk to regularly says "Nynorsk is so silly."

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 2:46

Bokmål is basically Norwegianized Danish, so of course it looks like Danish. IIUC, though, it doesn't really reflect how Norwegians speak their language, and spoken Norwegian is generally(?) much closer to Swedish.

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-07, 5:33

Johanna wrote:læse vs lese (to read)
kende vs kjenne (to know, as in be familiar or acquainted with)
gade vs gate (street)
sprog vs språk (language)
vej vs vei (road)
tøj vs tøy (clothes)

Out of all those pairs, with the exception of the last one, if you showed me them and I had to guess what they meant, I could guess correctly all the Norwegian words, but not the Danish ones. Though perhaps if I knew Danish phonology I could've figured it out.

vijayjohn wrote:Things like what Aurinĭa described with the two girls must happen to me all the time. They happen in the opposite direction, too, where I assume two people are speaking English, but they aren't. Even Indians speaking English can fool (and have fooled) me very easily sometimes.

I've had that happen where I assume two people are speaking English, and they aren't. As well I've had it happen where I was listening, thinking it was another language, but it turned out to be English. I found this happened to me more frequently when in the subway going home after a language exchange meeting. I just assumed it was my brain being in the mode of whatever language I was practicing (even though all the exchanges were English + another language, since this is Toronto). But it still always threw me off!
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 5:52

dEhiN wrote:Though perhaps if I knew Danish phonology I could've figured it out.

Danish sounds NOTHING like it's spelled! If you knew Danish phonology, you might as well just know Danish. :mrgreen: (Well, okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. It just has this crazy phonology). If you had heard the Danish words being pronounced, I'm sure the pronunciation would throw you off even more than the written forms did.
I've had that happen where I assume two people are speaking English, and they aren't. As well I've had it happen where I was listening, thinking it was another language, but it turned out to be English. I found this happened to me more frequently when in the subway going home after a language exchange meeting. I just assumed it was my brain being in the mode of whatever language I was practicing (even though all the exchanges were English + another language, since this is Toronto). But it still always threw me off!

To me, it's been happening all the time at work. It's complicated slightly by the fact that one of the new hires, who sits just across from me, sometimes forgets that I don't really speak her language and starts speaking to me in it (not that I give a shit; I'm pretty much willing to take whatever I get when it comes to languages 8-)).

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-07, 5:58

vijayjohn wrote:To me, it's been happening all the time at work. It's complicated slightly by the fact that one of the new hires, who sits just across from me, sometimes forgets that I don't really speak her language and starts speaking to me in it (not that I give a shit; I'm pretty much willing to take whatever I get when it comes to languages 8-)).

Language whore *coughs* *clears throat* .... what's her language? And I'm shocked there's a language you don't know even a word in! :shock: :rotfl:
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 6:22

dEhiN wrote:what's her language?

I'm going to assume that's classified information. :whistle:
And I'm shocked there's a language you don't know even a word in! :shock: :rotfl:

This wasn't a language I don't know a word in; I was actually trying to say this is a language I can probably understand with some effort (which I try to make, although maybe I'm not trying hard enough). I could probably speak it (beyond like short phrases or something) with some more effort. I think it's a language you could understand with relatively little difficulty, too.

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Osias » 2017-01-07, 10:55

dEhiN wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:To me, it's been happening all the time at work. It's complicated slightly by the fact that one of the new hires, who sits just across from me, sometimes forgets that I don't really speak her language and starts speaking to me in it .

Language whore *coughs* *clears throat* .... what's her language?
Wasn't she the girl that's making him become straight wanderlust for Persian?
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Car » 2017-01-07, 14:06

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
Prowler wrote:I used to think it was impossible to make such confusions unless you didn't speak either language at all or weren't used ot them... but there's been times I've mistaken someone speaking Dutch for a German dialect.

Swiss German sometimes sounds like Dutch to me.

Same. It's all the initial occurrences of /x/.

At least initially, some Swiss German dialects actually remind me of Dutch, too.
Please correct my mistakes!

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 15:16

Osias wrote:
dEhiN wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:To me, it's been happening all the time at work. It's complicated slightly by the fact that one of the new hires, who sits just across from me, sometimes forgets that I don't really speak her language and starts speaking to me in it .

Language whore *coughs* *clears throat* .... what's her language?
Wasn't she the girl that's making him become straight wanderlust for Persian?

Too late, I already speak a little bit of Persian. :P

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-07, 19:08

Osias wrote:
dEhiN wrote:Language whore *coughs* *clears throat* .... what's her language?
Wasn't she it the girl that's making him become straight wanderlust for Persian?

As far I can tell, he never mentioned the language was Persian. In fact he said, he's going to assume the information is classified. :D

Also, knowing Vijay, it's the language that'll drive his interest first, and then possibly the person. :lol:
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 20:01

dEhiN wrote:
Osias wrote:
dEhiN wrote:Language whore *coughs* *clears throat* .... what's her language?
Wasn't she it the girl that's making him become straight wanderlust for Persian?

As far I can tell, he never mentioned the language was Persian. In fact he said, he's going to assume the information is classified. :D

I think Osias meant "wasn't that girl the girl that's making him wanderlust for Persian?" (in which case I don't find any errors in what he said), which I assume was either a joke or him confusing me with someone else, since I never mentioned any such thing. :P
Also, knowing Vijay, it's the language that'll drive his interest first, and then possibly the person. :lol:

I'm a language whore (or a language john, as a certain someone once suggested, in which case I guess the languages are my whores :mrgreen:), so obviously, I don't give a shit about the person; just give me the languages! :twisted:

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Johanna » 2017-01-07, 20:25

Prowler wrote:Isee .thanks.

Det var så litt :)

vijayjohn wrote:
Prowler wrote:It's funny to me how Norwegians consider Swedish to be more similar o their language when Danish seems to have morw similar vocabulary to Norwegian, at least to me. Same for verb conjugations. I guess the phonetics are what set them more apart.

Bokmål is basically Norwegianized Danish, so of course it looks like Danish. IIUC, though, it doesn't really reflect how Norwegians speak their language, and spoken Norwegian is generally(?) much closer to Swedish.

Exactly. The thing to remember about Norwegian is that it has no spoken standard whatsoever and you won't find very many who speak a dialect close to conservative Bokmål.

Sure, there are areas where they do, mainly posh ones in and around Oslo, but if you look at a comparison between Standard Danish, conservative Bokmål, radical Bokmål, and the more traditional Oslo dialect, you see many more similarities to Swedish, especially more colloquial forms of it.

For example, if you speak with a Central Swedish accent, you'd say cykla and skrivi where most Osloites do, and you use -a for neuter nouns in the same way, and if you look at traditional dialects you'll find even more similarities. Then there are of course those time when Norwegian goes off on its own and it's instead Danish and Swedish that end up sharing a feature.


dEhiN wrote:
Johanna wrote:læse vs lese (to read)
kende vs kjenne (to know, as in be familiar or acquainted with)
gade vs gate (street)
sprog vs språk (language)
vej vs vei (road)
tøj vs tøy (clothes)

Out of all those pairs, with the exception of the last one, if you showed me them and I had to guess what they meant, I could guess correctly all the Norwegian words, but not the Danish ones. Though perhaps if I knew Danish phonology I could've figured it out.

There are a couple of tricks to figuring out Danish if you know a bit of Swedish or Norwegian.

  1. Will that weird word make sense if I turn <dC> into <CC> instead? Or maybe simply delete the <d> in question altogether...

  2. What if I change what looks like voiced stops into voiceless ones?

Knowing the phonology doesn't help very much. I mean <sprog> is actually /ˈsbʁɔˀw/ :shock:
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-07, 20:43

vijayjohn wrote:
dEhiN wrote:
Osias wrote:Wasn't she it the girl that's making him become straight wanderlust for Persian?

As far I can tell, he never mentioned the language was Persian. In fact he said, he's going to assume the information is classified. :D

I think Osias meant "wasn't that girl the girl that's making him wanderlust for Persian?" (in which case I don't find any errors in what he said), which I assume was either a joke or him confusing me with someone else, since I never mentioned any such thing. :P

Oh, perhaps you're right, in which case I also don't find any errors in what he said.

vijayjohn wrote:
dEhiN wrote:Also, knowing Vijay, it's the language that'll drive his interest first, and then possibly the person. :lol:

I'm a language whore (or a language john, as a certain someone once suggested, in which case I guess the languages are my whores :mrgreen:), so obviously, I don't give a shit about the person; just give me the languages! :twisted:

I actually figured as much, but I was trying to be somewhat nice and not make you sound like such a whore/slut/addict. By the way I love the language john suggestion since you're last name is... :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: Image
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 20:46

dEhiN wrote:I actually figured as much, but I was trying to be somewhat nice and not make you sound like such a whore/slut/addict.

:lol:
By the way I love the language john suggestion since you're last name is...

I know!

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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby Osias » 2017-01-07, 23:47

I mistook Vijay by Kenny! :o :shock: :D :D
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Re: Confusion Between Similar Languages

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-07, 23:57

Osias wrote:I mistook Vijay by for Kenny! :o :shock: :D :D

Yeah, I knew this was a possibility. :P

EDIT: Maybe I'm Kenny's Indian-American language-whorejohn alter ego. :whistle:


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