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 laypeople.
In Scandinavia, the term "Scandinavian languages" refers specifically to the mutually intelligible modern languages of the three continental Scandinavian countries and is thus used in a more narrow sense as a subset of the Nordic languages, leaving aside the insular subset of Faroese and Icelandic. Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are also referred to as Continental Nordic languages, while Faroese and Icelandic are grouped together as Insular Nordic languages. In scholarly literature in English, the term Scandinavian is also sometimes used synonymously with Nordic (North Germanic) languages when discussing the languages in a genetic perspective. The term Scandinavian arose in the 18th century as a result of the early linguistic and cultural Scandinavist movement, referring to the people, cultures, and languages of the three Scandinavian countries and stressing their common heritage.
The term "North Germanic languages" is used in comparative linguistics, whereas the term "Scandinavian languages" appears in studies of the modern standard languages and the dialect continuum of Scandinavia.
Approximately 20 million people in the Nordic countries speak a Scandinavian language as their native language, including an approximately 5% minority in Finland. Languages belonging to the North Germanic language tree are also commonly spoken on Greenland and, to a lesser extent, by immigrants in North America.
Modern languages and dialects
The modern languages and their dialects in this group are: