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LangChart

Each of the five Nordic nations officially has its own language (and, more often than not, its own extension of the Latin alphabet to go with it). One of the key points of the comic (link to SSSS) is which character is in command of which languages, and who can make himself understood by whom, or not.

Relations Between Languages Edit

Langtree

The largest group of mutual understanding is the set of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, which are sufficiently similar that Norwegians can usually understand the two others as spoken and be understood by them, and Danes and Swedes can understand each other's writing and, with a bit of experience, speech.

Icelandic is still a member of the same family (of the (North) Germanic languages), but sufficiently different to prevent fluent conversation.

Finnish is a member of the Finn(o-Ugr)ic language family, and hence different to the point of making an understanding impossible, short of properly learning the other's language from square one.

Two languages still spoken in the Known World, though not considered major languages, are Estonian and Faroese. Estonian is a Finnic language, the second-most widely spoken language of that family before the apocalypse. Faroese is the native language of the Faroe Islands and spoken by the Faroese people who lived in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and even Iceland in the old world. As both Estonia and the Faroe Islands are now part of the Silent World, any surviving native speakers would have lived in the other five countries.

Faroese

Page 196 (link to SSSS) and the author's comments thereon confirm that there are still speakers of Faroese and Estonian in the year 90, though they qualify as "the endangered, almost extinct fringe languages of the SSSS world", and that "some skalds also retain the ability to decipher various other Old World languages."

Consequences for the Main Characters Edit

LanguageBarrier

The most isolated member of the expedition is Lalli, who speaks only Finnish, and had nobody but Tuuri to communicate with.

The other small subgroup are the characters who can converse in Icelandic: Tuuri could, and Mikkel can fall back to other languages, while Reynir cannot.

Finally, all members except Lalli and Reynir speak one language of the Danish/Norwegian/Swedish group and can thus make use of the low barrier between these languages.

Comic Pages and Other Artwork Addressing Languages Edit

  • A practical example of similarity and differences between the five languages was given on page 195 (link to SSSS).
  • The following language tree page (link to SSSS) unexpectedly became a bit of an Internet meme, drew lots of new readers to the comic, and an out-of-comic-context version is now available as a poster.
  • The 2014 Christmas card (link to SSSS) shows season's greetings as a riddle to identify the languages used. [Spoiler: They are: Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, and Finnish.]

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