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When I was in Copenhagen (Denmark), I was impressed by the dialog of some other tourists with our host. They both spoke their native Scandinavian languages (noteworthy to say I understand no Scandinavian languages but I believe I can recognize that they are actually spoken), but it sounded like they speak different languages.

The only I have understood was a relatively large number of English words they used in their conversation. Is it a common practice to communicate this way? So, what is the more polite and effective way for a Swede to start communication with a Dane: to start speak pure English or to start speak his native language, adding English words when you doubt your interlocutor understand you?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Federico, OldPadawan, Flo, Andrew, ElizB Aug 18 '18 at 15:18

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  • Ok so you are sure you know it was this language but actually you don't know the language and it also didn't sound like this language and there were english words... That's a good sense of humor :-) Btw. regardless of this particular language I don't think there is a general rule how tourists talk to a host. I would bet a lot that it depends on the tourists and the host. Could it be some dialect? Please give more details about your question. – puck Aug 18 '18 at 9:53
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    Not sure why this was closed. Yes, it's common to communicate like that and most likely it's exactly as you though: The Danes speak danish and the Swedes speak swedish, with some english words inserted. The languages are close enough to be somewhat mutually intelligible, but swedes in particular have problems grasping danish pronunciation. When I'm in Denmark I would prefer to switch entirely to english but usually makes an attempt with the communication style above since it feels less rude somehow. – monocell Aug 19 '18 at 15:05
  • @puck have you ever heard of "language families"? If not, let me explain. The languages you don't know never sound like a full bla-bla-bla for any person that knows more that one. I can recognize that the languages were Swedish and Danish; being the first day in Copenhagen after 3 days in Stockholm I can't definitely say that person A speaks Swedish and person B speaks Danish; so tourist actually could be Norwegians but I have forgotten about them :) but let me reexpain the question: is it ok to speak with host in relative language with addtions of English words? – Ilya Yevlampiev Aug 19 '18 at 16:26
  • Yes I know what you mean. So both languages sounded scandinavian-like to you but nevertheless with a different background? That wasn't very clear to me in the original question. – puck Aug 20 '18 at 3:55
  • A common saying among linguists is that a language is a dialect with its own army. I don't know about Scandinavian countries specifically, but it's likely that, if Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were politically unified then they'd all be counted as speaking one language. – David Thornley Aug 20 '18 at 17:43

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