If you want to learn Norwegian, I wish you good luck with that, and please don’t ask me to teach you. It is not an easy language to learn, and there is a lot of other stuff to deal with…

We have 3 official languages in Norway. It’s Bokmål (regular
Norwegian), Nynorsk (new Norwegian) and Samisk. Samisk is spoken by
the Sami people that live in the area around the common borders of
Norway, Sweden and Finland. If you speak Samisk to someone that is not a Sami it will get you nowhere. It’s a VERY strange language, and you don’t learn it in regular school. Nynorsk is something very strange.
It’s a written language, but no one really speaks it! It’s a written version of a lot of dialects, and there is a LOT of dialects in Norway. It’s quite hard to understand people from many places, and I feel really sorry for all the people moving to Norway that are not from Sweden or Denmark, because we have soooo many dialects and strange words from strange places. If you are an expert in dialects in Norway you can pinpoint where people are from just by listening to them talk for a little while, but it seems like every little town has it’s own words. Just the strange words and dialect from around where I live has it’s own book now. And many of the words make -no- sense.

Words that mean one thing in one part of the country means something very different somewhere else. Like the word for a trench coat (frakk) also means something loosely translated to a mixture of “cool” and “naughty”. How are you supposed to know these things?

Bokmål is not really spoken either, but close. It’s the language that is most common around our capital Oslo, and it’s the language most kids learn in school. But all kids have classes in both Bokmål and Nynorsk. The languages are not very different, but most of the grammar needs to be learned.

And there is really no good reason for you to learn Norwegian either, since most Norwegians speak English quite good. We learn English from an early age, and since we are not dubbing TV-shows we actually know how to pronounciate too, if they just try. Not that people get much practice, most Norwegians are too shy to speak up when they are not 100% comfortable, and when using a second/third/fourth language it’s hard to get comfortable without making mistakes first. The “flow” of Norwegian is not very similar to English, so it might sound very strange when a Norwegian first try to speak English, but we pride ourselves on that it sounds so much worse when Swedish people speak English with their Swedish accent.

Norwegian, Swedish and Danish is almost the same language. But it seems like Norwegians understand Swedish and Danish much better than they understand us. It might have something to do with the fact that Norwegian travel more to their country than they visit ours, and that we have watched a lot of Swedish television and films over the last 30 years. Danish is easier to understand when written than spoken, because to us, Danish sounds like it’s spoken with a potato stuck in your throat.

Young Norwegians usually also know a bit of German or French too, as that was part of our education. But for most of us it was an easy-come-easy-go experience, use it or loose it. There is not much German TV shows in Norwegian TV, and French stuff is almost never seen.

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3 Responses to Language

  1. Pingback: Norway VS Sweden | You ask about Norway…

  2. Sini says:

    Funny about Danish, in Finland we usually describe it being spoken with a hot potato in the mouth 😀

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