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As a native English speaker and fluent Spanish speaker, what would be easier to learn: French or Norwegian?

As a native English speaker and fluent Spanish speaker, what would be easier to learn: French or Norwegian? Topic: Case study of english language
June 17, 2019 / By Jehosaphat
Question: (Note: By fluent, I don't mean native-level. However, I want to know it well enough that I can read/write/listen/speak without having to stop and think hard when a more complicated sentence comes my way, and can easily get on in an all French or Norwegian environment.) I want to take a gap year before university to study a language intensively, with the ultimate goal of being fluent or nearly fluent in that language. Due to this, I'd like to learn the easier one during that year (but of course I'll learn the other some time in the future ;). Which should I go for,as that I have equal motivation to learn both? Ignore the "that" in the last bit. Also, please just answer the question. I know there's a lot to learning a language, but just assume that everything is right (I can find sufficient study materials for both, will immerse myself, etc.) and I'm only asking about things like grammar, written language vs. spoken language, etc.
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Best Answers: As a native English speaker and fluent Spanish speaker, what would be easier to learn: French or Norwegian?

Gaynor Gaynor | 7 days ago
I must disagree with those two. Norwegian is far easier to learn if you are a native English speaker. Here's why: Though it is true that English and Norwegian are both Germanic languages, and Spanish and French are both Romance languages, the gaps between them are very different. Phonologically: Norwegian phonetics are not hard to grasp if you speak English. Surely there are a few phonemes with which you are not familiar, but for the most part, the phonetic palate, if you will, of the Norwegian is not far from the Englishman. French phonetics, however, are wholly unique among the Romance languages and are very much unlike Spanish. In fact, in a study observing the overall differential in phonetic value of six Romance languages, French earned a staggering 43% whereas Spanish had only 19% (0% being an exact copy of Vulgar Latin). Grammatically: English and Norwegian are almost one in the same. You will need only better familiarize yourself with the oblique (objective) case, as it applies to nouns more heavily in Norwegian. A few other nuances like the suffixed definite article will need review. However, you have the advantage when it comes to irregular nouns and verbs because they function very often in English as they do in Norwegian (e.g. plural of English "man" is not "mans" but "men"; plural of Norwegian "mann" is not "mannes" but "menn"). French grammar is not incredibly different from Spanish, but you will need to understand wholly new ideas like "liaison" (Old French for "link"), which is really more of a phonetic principle, and elision, a phenomenon that is not generally included in English orthography. Ultimately, you will have a vocabulary advantage also in Norwegian because many of the words, having been derived from the same Germanic element, are reminiscent of English words (of which, I assume, you know more than Spanish, as it is your native tongue).
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Gaynor Originally Answered: Is it easier a native English speaker to learn German than a native Spanish speaker?
Interesting question! Well, there are a couple of things. First, you're right... in general, it's easier for someone who speaks a Romance language to learn another Romance language rather than a Germanic language. And since your friend also knew English, which borrowed heavily from French (which was the official language of England for ~300 years), then French is even easier for her still. That said, German is also considered more difficult than either French or Spanish for native-English speakers to learn, or should I say master, even though it's a fellow Germanic language (in truth, English is sort of a blend of Germanic and Romance - Germanic roots overlaid with tons of vocab borrowed from French but pronounced a little differently). Maybe this is because German grammar is more complicated than Spanish or French grammar? Not sure. Yet another factor is that learning a third language is generally easier than learning a second language (your 2nd foreign language is easier than your 1st foreign language). Your friend took German first, a relatively hard language, and especially so for her since it's not related to her native language (German didn't borrow nearly as many words from French, Latin & Greek as English did). Now she's taking French, easier even for native-English speakers, let alone a native-Spanish speaker who also speaks English. So of course French appears way easier for her, especially since it's her second foreign language. So you see, it's really a combination of factors that made for your experiences. Interesting, huh? :)

Dhelweard Dhelweard
Most but not all of the French language were derived from Latin! Some French words are remnants of the Frankish language, a Germanic language, so it might not be so easy for a French speaker to learn Spanish or Italian or Portuguese, and vice versa. Learn French linguistic history before Latin was used as the church language in France. You'd learn that Frankish, a former language of France, is closer to German than modern French is to its modern cousins, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese. The Spanish, and Portuguese word for "cat" is actually of Greek origin and isn't related to Latin at all! The Spanish word for "mother" actually sounds like it's from Scandinavian languages. Some Latin words and Norwegian words are spelled the same, but have totally different meanings. Some Norwegian words have borrowed French words and spelt them the Norwegian way. Some words in Norwegian sound like it's somewhat related to Greek, definition wise, but are really totally unrelated.
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Bezaleel Bezaleel
so much of learning a language depends on you, the learner, not on the language. I see you have equal motivation and access to material. But I still wonder how your desired levels are and your interest in learning various forms. French, for example has thousands of verb forms (or so it seemed to me was a student) -- each subject uses a different form (suis, etes...) and the conditional and subjunctive, as well as several past tense forms. Norwegian verbs are much simpler (all subjects use the same verb form -- jeg, du, han, hun, vi, dere, de har (have). Many tenses use compounds (vi har hatt -- we have had, han kommer til å skrive -- he is going to write). As in all languages, there are imperfect sound <-> spelling relationships, but my sense is that they are easily mastered in Norwegian (that 'de' they is pronounced as if it were spelled 'di'. That the -t on the end of definite singular nouns (huset) is silent. Norwegian gives the added challenge of dialects and alternative forms -- might make the job of a learner easier or harder depending.... I suggest when you have a chance, look at my website for learners of Norwegian. You will see some suggested sources, some very elementary lessons, many lists of words and forms by parts of speech... lykke til!
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Abot Abot
French, because it is a Romance language like Spanish and has had such a strong influence on English since the Norman Conquest.
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Abot Originally Answered: What is the easiest language to learn for a fluent English speaker?
Whoever said GERMAN was the easiest either hasn't studied German or was a natural with it (or maybe they studied really hard). Everything is conjugated with German. EVERYTHING. Well, it's called 'declension' but let's call a spade a spade. Verbs... nouns... definite articles (the)... indefinite articles (an, a)... adjectives... adverbs... pronouns... there's a flexible word order that confuses folks (the famous) "Den Mann beißt der Hund" or even the completely 'legal' syntax of "Der, der der, der ich schon Honig gegeben hatte, Honig gab, muss mehr I took Italian for a semester and found that it was easy, at least with pronunciation. it was the closest thing to a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (wysiwyg) for languages. It's grammar is fairly straight forward (typically with SVO syntax). Japanese surprisingly has relatively easy grammar, but there'd be much more memorization and practice needed to write and read it, methinks. Same with Arabic. So, if you're looking for an EASY language (which is subjective), i would shy away from German. For Americans, Spanish will more than likely be the easiest; followed by Italian, and then French. (in my opinion).

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