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Scandinavian Languages

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Monday, August 18, 2003, 16:59
At 07:07 PM 8/18/03 +0400, you wrote:

>As for Danish, reading it is not an insurmountable task , even with my >quite limited Swedish. Listening to it, OTOH, is a nightmare. Minimal as >my experience with spoken Danish is, I can't understand a word, even if >it's sloooow and simple (unlike Norwegian).
If listening is such a nightmare, try speaking it! LOL Scandinavians joke that Danes sound like they are speaking with a potato in their mouths. Sometimes it feels like I am speaking with a potato in my mouth. (But that is usually on bad days or on especially difficult phrases.) I haven't had too much experience listening to Swedish and Norwegian. Danish has undergone lenition (sometimes quite bizzare or extreme) of the /t,d, and g/ in certain positions, and that can make it more difficult for a Swede or Norwegian to understand a Dane than the other way round, because Danish is still written with those letters, so Danes know that there is a g is in a word, even if they don't pronounce it at all. So it isn't going to throw them too badly to hear it surface as a k in Norwegian. (e.g. the word for book: 'bog', pronounced [bo], in Danish; spelled 'bok' in Norwegian. /r/ as a uvular approximate in Danish doesn't do anything to help the situation. And, depending on which dialect you speak, havng a glottal stop inserted into every second or third segment certainly doesn't enhance intelligibillity (or pronouncability) for foreigners. A true story: a Danish friend of mine told me that she picked up a book once and started reading. She started thinking, "This book really has a lot of spelling mistakes in it." After a while, she realized that the book was written in Norwegian, not Danish. I can read Swedish and Norwegian with a little extra effort. (Of couse, some days, the Danish takes special effort. I am not especially good at reading newspapers -- but I can plough my way through 18th century comedy with an effort, so go figure.) Speaking of the lenition that I mentioned earlier...Does anyone have any knowledge of the phonetics of t and especially d in Danish? An intervocalic /d/ in Danish --> a very strange sound that most resembles a voiced interdental fricative. But I pronounce it by anchoring the tip of my tongue against the back of my bottom teeth and then pressing my tongue *blade* up towards the alveolar ridge and creating a tighter closure than for an approximate but not quite enough stricture for a real fricative in that region. Postvocalic word-final t's have odd behavior, too. To the best of my remberence, they are all prounounced weakly, but the final /t/ in 'Turkiet' ("Turkey") positively sounds like some bizarre variant of an [l]. To acheive both of these realizations of /t/ I do the same thing that I described with the intervocalic /d/, using the blade of my tongue instead of the tip. Oh, yes, I just remembered that /d/ --> that same weird l-like sound / V_#. This makes me wonder if Danish alveolars are always laminal rather than apical. (Prounounced with the tongue blade rather than with the tongue tip.) There is still the question of whether the method that I found for successfully imitating the sounds that I heard is the same method by which native speakers produce these phones. (I do or did have a fairly good accent.) Does anyone know? Since there are Swedes around, I can ask a question I have long wanted the answer to. What is at the beginning of the Swedish word for "seven"? How is it spelled? And could you give me a phonetic description of the sound? I've heard that the sound is a terror to foreigners. Does anyone have any idea how the definitite and indefinite articles in Scandinavian languages arose? I have been wondering about this since my first week in Denmark. The indefinite article is transparent. It's simply the word for "one" with gender marking placed in front of the noun. Spanish and French do the same thing. But how do you get a definite article by taking that selfsame particle and postfixing it to the noun? (Do native speakers ever even wonder about things like that, or do they just accept them?) Isidora


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>