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Norwegian Profile

  Tags: Norwegian
 Language Learning Forum : Collaborative writing Post Reply
25 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3
Senior Member
Joined 5256 days ago

103 posts - 122 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Swedish
Studies: French, Spanish

 Message 25 of 25
16 June 2011 at 1:51am | IP Logged 
Ra wrote:
Well, in lack of better things to do I began an attempt to write a profile. I've used some of the suggestions earlier in this thread, either in part or completely (e.g Travel Opportunities as suggested by Steve). And some of what I've done so far would probably be better off written by a non-native speaker.

It is not yet complete, and I would appreciate it if someone else took care of the parts concerning difficulties/grammar, or at least made suggestions for what to write.

Grammatical corrections, and comments in general, are welcome and probably needed!


Norwegian belongs to the North Germanic language family, and is part of what may be seen as part of a continuous series of more or less mutally intelligible Scandinavian dialects. It has an estimated 4.7 million speakers, but due to it's similarities with Swedish and Danish one may, with some effort, be able to communicate with about 20 million people using only Norwegian.


Norwegian is helpful when you travel to Norway, including Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Where it is the national language. Depending on where you go, you can get by with knowing much or little of the language as many norwegians speak English.

Speaking Norwegian is also helpful in Denmark and Sweden due to the similarities between the languages.

If you are aspiring to master the North Germanic language family Norwegian is probably the best starting point.

Given it's exotic nature Norwegian definetively has somewhat of a chic factor and charm. It may also serve as an effective conversational icebreaker with what is one of the most socially reserved populations in the world.


Due to the familiarity with English among norwegians the economic importance of the Norwegian language may be seen as relatively small.

The CIA World Factbook puts Norways GDP at 257,400$m (thus ranking 40th).

Some of the main industries are: petroleum and gas, fishing and food processing, shipbuilding and shipping, pulp and paper products, metals.


Norway is an incredibly expensive country to travel through for most, however, once you're there, you'll be in no doubt that the spectacular beauty of the countryside is worth the hassle of having to starve yourself for a few days.

Norwegians are always happy to help you, but will most often speak to you in English as the vast majority of people under the age of 40 can hold their own in the language and will probably make you feel a little ashamed. However, a little knowledge of Norwegian will go a very long way, as Norwegians do not expect you to learn their language, any attempt to do so is seen as rather commendable. It's also useful to have some knowledge of the language when leaving visiting the countryside, especially if you come across older folk.


Norway, including Svalbard and Jan Mayen. Scandinavian settlements in the USA (the midwest in particular).


An estimated 4.7 million in 2007 (Source: Statistisk Sentralbyrå).


There are two officially recognized forms of written Norwegian - Bokmål, also called Dano-Norwegian due to it's Danish influence, and Nynorsk, created from various traditional dialects as a reaction to the danish influence. Bokmål is by far the most popular (used in 92% of all written publications), and is the written dialect most commonly taught to foreign learners of the language.

Due to the rugged landscape of Norway, and the norwegians love for settling in forlorn places with austere weather conditions, there are great variations in how the language is spoken throughout the country. Some dialects may be problematic to understand until one gets familiar with them (however most norwegians will be able to help foreign learners by speaking a more standardized form). A dialect often refered to as "standard østnorsk" may be regarded as the spoken variant of Bokmål.


Norway has a rich literary tradition with works by authors like e.g. Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun being regarded as international classics. Knowing the Norwegian language opens a vault of impressive literature from a variety of genres.

A partial list of authors can be found here:

Norway is also known for it's music, wether it is the haunting traditional music, classical or more modern styles. One of Norways biggest cultural exports is black metal music, a genre that has sparked interest in Norwegian language and culture among many foreigners.

Also with regards to visual arts and architecture Norway is internationally renowned, with painters like Edvard Munch and Odd Nerdrum, and the peculiar architecture of the stave churches.


To people familiar with English Norwegian should be relatively easy to learn compared to other languages. The greatest difficulty probably lies in the pronunciation, and becoming familiar with the various spoken dialects.



Norwegian pronunciation should not pose as a big threat to most people.

The letter 'r' seems to be the biggest problem to people with English as their first language, as it is normally pronounced like the "rolled 'r'" found in e.g. Spanish and Italian, but could also be pronounced like the more guttural French 'r' (common in southwestern and southern dialects).


Most of the Norwegian vocabulary is inherited from Old Norse, with the biggest source of loan words being Middle Low German.


Norwegian is close to the other members of the Germanic language family, especially the North Germanic languages. It shares some vocabulary with English, but is not considerably close in other regards.



A wild guess would be 250-300 hours to be able to have normal conversations.


"Norwegian: An Essential Grammar" by Åse-Berit Strandskogen and Rolf Strandskogen, Routledge, 1994. ISBN-13: 978-0415109796

"Norwegian Verbs And Essentials of Grammar" by Louis Janus, McGraw-Hill, 1999.
ISBN-13: 978-0844285962



Bokmål dictionaries:

Norwegian pronunciation guide:

Very good! Here we have a complete language profile that to me seem quite fair. I agree with the dificulties too. I've been told it's not the grammar but the accent(s), our singing way of speaking, and the enormous differences in dialects/accents within the country..

Now Micheloud can finish the language profile..

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