North Germanic languages

The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also referred to as the Nordic languages, a direct translation of the most common term used among Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish scholars and people.

North Germanic
EthnicityNorth Germanic peoples
Northern Europe
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Proto-languageProto-Norse (attested), later Old Norse
ISO 639-5gmq
North Germanic-speaking lands

Continental Scandinavian languages:


Insular Nordic languages:

  Norn (†)

The term North Germanic languages is used in comparative linguistics,[1] whereas the term Scandinavian languages appears in studies of the modern standard languages and the dialect continuum of Scandinavia.[2][3] Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are close enough to form a strong mutual intelligibility where cross-border communication in native languages is very common, particularly between the latter two.

Approximately 20 million people in the Nordic countries speak a Scandinavian language as their native language,[4] including an approximately 5% minority in Finland. Besides being the only North Germanic language with official status in two separate sovereign states, Swedish is also the most spoken of the languages overall. 15% of the population in Greenland speak Danish as a first language.[5]

This language branch is separated from the West Germanic languages to the south, like English and Dutch. It is also distinct from Finnish just to the East which belongs to a completely different language family: the Uralic languages.

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