We often hear others say that everything is connected on earth. Which is true to some extent. If we trace back our ancestry to the first people on earth, we will come to the conclusion that all of us had the same origin. Cultures started the same way. People practiced certain customs, but those who didn’t agree with that particular set of customs decided to create their separate cultures. Societies got divided, countries were formed, wars were fought, but now that we are searching for peace, we are coming to the conclusion that we share more similarities than differences.
But there is one question we still haven’t answered: how closely are we connected to each other? It is very important to every person to maintain their sense of self. If you meet identical twins, you will realize that despite looking the same and having certain similar habits and behavior patterns, they will have different personalities. No two people can be the same, nor do they want to be. But if we try to diminish our differences too much, we might end up destroying our identities. So, how much of a connection we need to bring peace on earth that doesn’t involve sacrificing our sense of self is the real issue we should be addressing.
It is good to study societies and figure out what’s common between them. It helps us get over our prejudices and give other people the respect we want to receive. But we can do that while maintaining the individual identities of those societies and cultures. We don’t have to merge two culture to bring world peace. We just have to show people that other people are just like them, they have similar needs, and so it is okay to work together instead of hating on each other. But creating a world where people see similarities and still manage to think of things separately is not an easy task. Humans love to associate things with random thoughts, imagine what would they do if we gave them options for making associations.
The problem is clearer to understand when we are talking about languages. There are different families of languages and each language in a sub group of a family share some similarities with the other tongues in the group. Often times, the vernaculars are also mutually intelligible, which might make people wonder why do we need different tongues when one can do the job just as easily. The answer is yes, of course, because languages, like many other things, are a part of people’s identity. Many people have kept their vernaculars alive throughout history as an act of rebellion when their oppressors tried to kill their culture and vernaculars.
Danish and English:
Danish is the official tongue of Denmark and is spoken by almost six million people. Denmark and Greenland are the only two countries with a considerable number of Danish language speakers. The number of Danish language speakers in other countries is way too low.
English, however, is one of the most spoken languages in the world. There are more than seven billion people on our planet, out of which 20% speak it. However, it only has over 400 million native speakers. The majority of those who speak it aren’t native English speakers. It is recognized in the constitution of almost 60 states. It is also the dominant tongue on the internet.
Danish and English may have a huge difference in the number of their speakers, but what about the languages themselves, are they closely related or have nothing in common?
How Close is Danish to English?
People often wonder how are Scandinavians so good at speaking English? Because you will rarely come across someone in those countries who doesn’t know English. Not only can they speak the tongue but they are also fluent in it, as well as in their own language. The people of Denmark are known as the most English proficient nation on earth. The reason they are so good at it is not just because it is taught in their schools, or their interest in English media, but also because of the likeness between it and their official language. All the Scandinavian languages are Germanic, so is English.
Danish and English share a lot of phonetic similarities, which means some of their letters make the same sound. The latter has a lot of words that were derived from the Old Norse and Danish is a descendent of Old Norse, so one can imagine the similarities. 1% of Danish vocabulary is made up of English loanwords. In written form, an English speaker can see a lot of familiar words in Danish. The Danish alphabet is pretty similar to the English one. It has three additional letters. They, however, come at the end of the alphabet. But again, there is the question of the extent of the relation between the two languages.
Although, English and Danish share some features, they also have a lot of differences. Danish is a North Germanic language, while English is West Germanic. Despite having influences of Old Norse, English did not originate from it. Danish is mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Swedish and is more closely related to them than English. The connection between English and Danish is not a strong one but it does help the Danes learn English more easily. It is important to remember that same features may not always mean that two vernaculars are mutually intelligible.