Comparing the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish languages.

As I got onto the plane for my outbound flight, I grabbed a Norwegian newspaper, having mistaken it for a Swedish paper. Fortunately, the two languages are so similar I was able to fake my way through it without too much difficulty. (And it's definitely an odd sensation reading U.S. cartoons translated into Norwegian...)

The on-board entertainment system offered diversions in many languages. So I watched "Loony Tunes" dubbed into German (confirming that I really need to practice my German more) and then listened to some children's stories in various language. Demonstrating my astonishingly poor listening comprehension, I couldn't figure out whether the first story was in Norwegian or Swedish. Eventually I convinced myself that it was Norwegian, which was confirmed when I later heard a story in Swedish.

Danish, on the other hand, is pretty obviously Danish.

Comments (14)
  1. Wilhelm Svenselius says:

    Why anyone would willingly subject themselves to dubbed entertainment is a mystery to me. Especially dubbing in german, ick. Sounds like you had a nice flight just the same.

    Useless FYI: There are only two newspapers worth reading in Sweden: "Dagens Nyheter" and "Svenska Dagbladet". The other two you might encounter; "Expressen" and "Aftonbladet", both represent the worst kind of tabloid rubbish available, and are not worth the paper they are printed on (particularly so for Aftonbladet). There are also a variety of local newspapers, but few of them are worth reading.

  2. Rodrigo Strauss says:

    Raymond: Maybe it’s like portuguese and spanish. I’m brazilian (we speak portuguese) and I have no problems to understand the latin america CNN (in spanish).

    Wilhelm: Ok, dubbed E.R., Friends or the Braveheart movie is really terrible (and here in Brazil the dubbing studios do a very good job). But South Park in portuguese is simple wonderful! :-) Here we have the version with subtitles (brazilian MTV) and the dubbed one (Locomotion).

  3. Wilhelm Svenselius says:

    Rodrigo: My major gripe with dubbing is that the actor’s lines are (often) affected, sometimes even dumbed down or censored because the translators either couldn’t find a good enough match in the new language or because they saw fit to change some part of someone else’s work – second, dubbing messes up lip synchronization big time, so the actors look real stupid when they talk.

    I can see how South Park would be quite watchable despite these things, because there’s no lip sync to talk about even with the original audio, and the stories are so crude and simple that it would be very hard for a translator to mess them up any more than they already are (it might actually add to the comedy if they tried)! Here in Sweden, they gave up trying to dub South Park and just broadcast it subbed (I think they still do, but noone I know watches it any longer).

  4. Mike Dunn says:

    I really want to study Portuguese some day, if for no other reason than to get Spanish comprehension at the same time ;)

    That’s actually a rather interesting linguistic phenomenon, one-way comprehension. A Portuguese speaker can understand spoken Spanish, but a Spanish speaker can’t understand spoken Portuguese.

  5. JCAB says:

    As a Spaniard, I’ve lived my whole life accustomed to dubbed… everything. Heck, even many Spanish movies are re-dubbed to improve their sound quality.

    Lip-sync is not a problem. You just learn to phase it out completely in your mind. Dubbing is so pervasive in Spain and people are so used to it that it would be impossible to switch back to subtitling for the mass market. Most people hate subtitles in Spain.

    The main problem with dubbing is that you get so used to crisp, perfect, canned audio that the natural audio of non-dubbed movies is the one that gets to sound wrong to you.

  6. Peter Torr says:

    Actually, the audio in most films is at least partially re-dubbed. If you ever stay to watch the credits (which you should always do!) you will see references to "ADR" (Automated Dialog Replacement) or "Loop Groups." The audio quality of the live shoot just isn’t good enough most of the time (you really think that the perfect sound you hear in Dolby 5.1 came from the on-location shoot?!? :-) ).

    They set up a scene on a projector and have the actor say the lines over and over again until they get exactly the right tone and it matches the video. Often you will also notice that what the actor says and what they appear to say doesn’t match at all (especially if it is an over-the-shoulder shot so you can only see their jaw move, not their lips). They change the dialog after shooting for all sorts of reasons.

    And then of course there was the case in "Eraser" where they digitally changed the entire movie to replace all instances of "Cyrex" with "Cyrez" (to aviod litigation from chip maker "Cyrix") and, if I’m not imagining things, they even digitally edited Arnold’s lip movements so that it matched the modifed dialog.

    And in case you ever wondered what "foley" was, it’s all the little sound effects that people make in movies (footsteps, doors closing, clothes "swishing," glasses clinking, gorey medical noises, etc). There are usually two people who’s entire job it is to make all the sounds effects that get overdubbed into the film ("foley artists").

    They don’t do the larger sound effects such as tyre screeching or buildings exploding; that’s more likely to be a pre-recorded "sample" or done by the special effects department.

  7. Rodrigo Strauss says:

    Wilhelm: You’re right! Dubbed cartoons wil always be as good as the original, since the original one is dubbed itself.

    Michael: I’m not sure about this. There was a girl from Argentina in my school and she had no problems to understand us.

    And if you want to practice your portuguese, drop a message in my code project profile :-)

  8. Rodrigo Strauss says:

    Sorry, your name is Mike… Sorry… :-)

  9. Raymond Chen says:

    Depends on the cartoon. Some (like The Simpsons) are carefully lip sync’d. If you look in the credits, there will be a person listed with the job "lip sync" or something like that.

  10. Florian says:

    South Park dubbed into German is just plain awful. It seems to be bearable for people who have never seen the original, but if you have, then you can’t stand the dubbed version. It’s even worse than Futurama. It’s really a shame that you only get to see the dubbed versions of SP and Futurama in Germany.

  11. bryan says:

    I’d like to see that south park episode where cartman dresses up like a little fat german kid and does that weird song and dance dubbed into german.

    what about danish makes it obviously danish to you, i know what makes it obviously danish to me but i want to hear from other people.

  12. Raymond Chen says:

    To me, Danish sounds like somebody challenged you to speak German without moving your lips or tongue.

  13. MilesArcher says:

    Welcome back from your vacation. I hope you had a good time.

  14. Raymond Chen says:

    Commenting on this article has been closed.

Comments are closed.