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9. Understanding differences in inter-Scandinavian language understanding

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Abstract

Linguistically seen, the overlap between the mainland Scandinavian languages Danish, Norwegian and Swedish is relatively large. To a large extent, the languages are mutually intelligible and communication within Scandinavia therefore normally takes place in the speakers’ respective first languages. However, this so called semi-communication is not always unproblematic. This article presents a critical overview of the studies that have been conducted on inter-Scandinavian language understanding, pointing out that none of them really seems to be able to provide a secure answer to the question of how well Scandinavians can understand each other’s languages. This mainly depends on methodological problems. Moreover, the article presents a survey of different methods that have been used or possibly could be used to investigate inter- Scandinavian language understanding. The survey makes clear that test results are strongly effected by the method chosen and that these effects ought to be taken into account when the above-mentioned investigations into understanding between Danes, Norwegians and Swedes are used for further research.

References

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