10 facts about the Norwegian language
Origin of the language
The Norwegian language originated in Scandinavia and is derived from Old Norse, a Germanic language.
History of the language
It is thought that Norwegian originated in the 8th century.
Learning the language
It takes 575 hours to learn Norwegian as an English speaker.
Norwegian language diversity
Norwegian is the official language in Norway. There are two standard methods of writing Norwegian – Bokmål and Nynorsk. Nynorsk is a synthesis and mixture of primarily western Norwegian regional dialects that was established in the 1850s.
Did you know?
Norwegian is one of the Nordic Council's working languages.
Norwegian adjectives reflect gender, number and comparison.
Only about 10%–15% of the population in Norway speaks Nynorsk, primarily on the west coast.
Norwegian has been significantly influenced by French, German and English.
English is the primary source of loanwords for Norwegian, with words such as rappers and email.
There is a historical basis for the split of Norwegian between Bokmål and Nynorsk.
The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.
Playwright and theatre director
Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.
Adventurer and ethnographer
Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.
Christian Lous Lange
Christian Lous Lange
Fun facts about the Norwegian language
Intelligible with Danish and Swedish
In terms of vocabulary, Norwegian is more similar to Danish. Its pronunciation, however, is closer to that of Swedish.
A surprising number of loanwords
Norwegian has incorporated many loanwords, but it has actually loaned English a few words as well. Some examples are berserk, lemming and slalom.
Various versions of Norwegian
The Norwegian language has many regional varieties but also several forms; the most notable of these forms are Bokmål (Book Norwegian, official), Nynorsk (New Norwegian, official), Riksmal (national language) and Hognorsk (High Norwegian).
A tonal language
Norwegian is a tonal language with a pitch accent, making it sound musical and a little different from the other European languages.
Since Norwegian has such a high number of cognates, reading a basic newspaper item is actually fairly easy for anyone. Some terms are identical to those in the English language, such as bank, over and problem.
The word “please” does not exist in Norwegian
The Norwegian language lacks a literal equivalent of the word “please.” However, there are phrases that more or less mean the same, such as vennligst (in a most friendly manner) and ver så venleg (be so kind).
Protection of local dialects
Because this is important to Norwegians, the regional dialects are protected by the Norwegian government. Norwegian legislation, for example, mandates that pupils be allowed to use their native tongue in class.
Word for weekend binge drinking
A decent dosage of weekend drinking is affectionately termed helgefylla to make it a genuine event rather than one of those things that just "happens."
Norwegian has a lot of words or phrases that are untranslatable, such as glad i deg (you matter to me, in the sense of platonic love), takk for sist (thanks for the last, or nice to see you again) and pålegg (in addition to, but in various contexts).