Learn Survival Norwegian
Wikitravel users have collectively created a free Norwegian phrasebook with the goal of making it possible for travelers to "get by" while traveling in areas where Norwegian is spoken.
Wikitravel phrasebooks are available in many languages and each one varies in depth and detail. Most of the phrasebooks include a pronunciation guide, a general phrase list, information about dates and numbers, a color list, transportation-related phrases, vocabulary for shopping and phrases for eating and drinking. Some are even more in depth, and all are free!
Norwegian is the language spoken in Norway. It's closely related to Danish and Swedish, and most speakers of the three languages can understand each other without much difficulty. Norwegian is also historically closely related to Icelandic, but the two are no longer mutually understandable. Written Norwegian is virtually identical to Danish and phrasebooks for the two languages can for most purposes be used interchangeably. Most of Norway's 4.5 million citizens speak Norwegian. Norwegian is written with the Latin alphabet and three additional vowels (ø, æ, å).
Because Norwegian is a Germanic language, learning a decent form of Norwegian shouldn't be too hard if you already speak English, German and/or Dutch. Norwegian grammar is similar to English and relatively easy compared to German. For example, the role of a word is determined by its place in the syntax, rather than by morphology. Norwegian basically only has two grammatical cases: Nominative and genitive - genitive differs from nominative by an "s" at the end of the noun (like English but without the apostrophe). Verbs are not conjugated according to person. Adjectives are (like in English) placed before the noun. Norwegian has three grammatical genders, and nouns are inflected according to their grammatical gender. Plural form of noun is often expressed with the suffix "-r" or "-er", for example "en katt, katter" = "a cat, cats".
Although modern Norwegian is relatively easy to understand and practice at a superficial level, learning Norwegian a hundred per-cent fluently is exceptionally difficult. There are several reasons to this: The first thing worth mentioning is that there is a wide range of dialects in Norwegian, that could differ significantly to the standard written form. Due to the country's geography, being extremely long and narrow, these dialects have had the opportunity to develop over time. There is no standard spoken Norwegian, and it is fully socially accepted (even highly regarded) to use your local dialect whatever the context or situation. Politicians and news reporters all do this. Norwegian has a number of idioms, many of which are used regularly but hardly make any sense to an outsider (they just have to be learned). Many idioms originates from playwright Henrik Ibsen, from the ancient sagas (compiled by Icelander Snorre Sturlason), or from the Bible, as well as from popular culture. The weak Norwegian verbs could also have one of five different endings.
There are two official variations of written Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk. The differences are small, but important to a lot of Norwegians. Bokmål is by far the most common, and evolved from Danish. Nynorsk is a reconstructed standard written form, devleoped by Ivar Aasen, a teacher and linguist. Aasen traveled through most of the country, except for the eastern parts, because he felt those parts had been too heavily influenced by Danish language. Between 1848 and 1855, Aasen published a grammar, lexicon, dialect samples, and a set of readings as he developed Nynorsk (called then landsmål).
In 2003, approximately 15% of primary school pupils were in school districts that taught Nynorsk as the primary written standard.
Numbers, time and dates Note that Norwegians use comma as the decimal sign, for instance 12,000 means 12 (specified with three decimal places) not 12 thousand, whereas 12.000 means 12 thousand. Norwegians use both 24 and 12 hour system, spoken often 12 hour system and 24 hour system in writing. Norwegians don't use PM/AM to indicate morning or afternoon. Dates can be abbreviated in a number of ways, but the order is always DATE-MONTH-YEAR, for instance 12.07.08 is July 12, 2008.
Other notable features:
- Unlike some Germanic neighbors, in Norwegian the definite article is postfixed (a suffix) while the indefinite article is a separate word like in English (a house = et hus; the house = huset).
- Verbs are not conjugated according to the person.
- Capital letters reserved for names of persons or places as well as beginning of sentences.
- Norwegian has three unique vowels: æ, ø, å (more below)
- Norwegian has fewer French/Latin words than English, but still enough "international" words (adopted from English, French or Latin) that are understandable for most visitors. For instance: information = informasjon, telephone = telefon, post = post, tourist = turist, police = politi.
- Unlike English, Norwegian words are compounded to form new nouns. There is in principle no limit to the number of new nouns that can be created, unless these are "decomposed" some of these may not be found in dictionaries or phrasebooks.
Norwegian (norsk) is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants (see Danish language).
These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language and Icelandic language, as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages (also called Scandinavian languages). Faroese and Icelandic are hardly mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form, because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them.
As established by law and governmental policy, there are two official forms of written Norwegian – Bokmål (literally "book language") and Nynorsk (literally "new Norwegian"). Each of them has its own Wikipedia, as if they were two different languages. The Norwegian Language Council is responsible for regulating the two forms, and recommends the terms "Norwegian Bokmål" and "Norwegian Nynorsk" in English. Two other written forms without official status also exist: Riksmål ("national language"), which is to a large extent the same language as Bokmål, but somewhat closer to the Danish language, is regulated by the Norwegian Academy, which translates it as "Standard Norwegian". Høgnorsk ("High Norwegian") is a more purist form of Nynorsk that rejects most spelling reforms from the 20th century, but is not widely used.
There is no officially sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian, and most Norwegians speak their own dialect in all circumstances. The sociolect of the urban upper and middle class in East Norway can be regarded as a de facto spoken standard for Bokmål because it adopted many characteristics from Danish when Norway was under Danish rule. This so-called standard østnorsk ("Standard Eastern Norwegian") is the form generally taught to foreign students.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Danish was the standard written language of Norway. As a result, the development of modern written Norwegian has been subject to strong controversy related to nationalism, rural versus urban discourse, and Norway's literary history. Historically, Bokmål is a Norwegianised variety of Danish, while Nynorsk is a language form based on Norwegian dialects and puristic opposition to Danish. The now abandoned official policy to merge Bokmål and Nynorsk into one common language called Samnorsk through a series of spelling reforms has created a wide spectrum of varieties of both Bokmål and Nynorsk. The unofficial form known as Riksmål is considered more conservative than Bokmål, and the unofficial Høgnorsk more conservative than Nynorsk.
Norwegians are educated in both Bokmål and Nynorsk. A 2005 poll indicates that 86.3% use primarily Bokmål as their daily written language, 5.5% use both Bokmål and Nynorsk, and 7.5% use primarily Nynorsk. Thus 13% are frequently writing Nynorsk, though the majority speak dialects that resemble Nynorsk more closely than Bokmål. Broadly speaking, Nynorsk writing is widespread in Western Norway, though not in major urban areas, and also in the upper parts of mountain valleys in the southern and eastern parts of Norway. Examples are Setesdal, the western part of Telemark county (fylke) and several municipalities in Hallingdal, Valdres and Gudbrandsdalen. It is little used elsewhere, but 30–40 years ago it also had strongholds in many rural parts of Trøndelag (Mid-Norway) and the south part of Northern Norway (Nordland county). Today, not only is Nynorsk the official language of 4 of the 19 Norwegian counties (fylker), but also of many municipalities in 5 other counties. The Norwegian broadcasting corporation (NRK) broadcasts in both Bokmål and Nynorsk, and all governmental agencies are required to support both written languages. Bokmål is used in 92% of all written publications, Nynorsk in 8% (2000).
Norwegian is one of the working languages of the Nordic Council. Under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries who speak Norwegian have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs.
The Danish and Norwegian alphabet is based upon the Latin alphabet and has consisted of the following 29 letters since 1917 (Norwegian) and 1955 (Danish), although Danish did not officially recognize the W as a separate letter until 1980.
The Norwegian language has the following linguistic heritage: Indo-European Languages > Germanic Languages > North Germanic Languages > West Scandanavian Languages > Norwegian