While Danish and Norwegian are closely related and share many similarities, they are not quite the same language. Here's a breakdown:
Origin: Both belong to the North Germanic language family, descended from Old Norse. This means they share a lot of vocabulary and grammatical structures.
Written language: Norwegian Bokmål, one of the two official written forms of Norwegian, is heavily influenced by Danish and shares a high degree of mutual intelligibility.
Vocabulary: A large portion of the vocabulary is similar, although some differences exist due to separate influences.
Pronunciation: This is where they diverge significantly. Danish pronunciation is often described as "hot potato in mouth" due to its swallowed vowels and glottal stops, while Norwegian sounds more open and melodic.
Dialects: Both have a complex dialect landscape. While some Norwegian dialects sound closer to Swedish, others are quite distinct from any other Scandinavian language. Danish dialects also vary greatly across the country.
Grammar: Though similar, there are subtle differences in grammatical rules and usage.
Depending on the context and speakers' familiarity, speakers of one language can often understand the other, especially in written form. However, thick dialects and fast speech can pose challenges.
Danish and Norwegian are close cousins, not twins. They share a common ancestry and many features, but also have distinct characteristics in pronunciation, dialect, and grammar.
Here's an analogy:
Imagine them as siblings who grew up in different environments. They share a family resemblance and can hold basic conversations, but they might have different accents, slang, and even some personality quirks.