The Info List - Norwegian Language

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no – inclusive code Individual codes: nb – Bokmål nn – Nynorsk

ISO 639-2

nor – inclusive code Individual codes: nob – Bokmål nno – Nynorsk

ISO 639-3 nor – inclusive code Individual codes: nob – Bokmål nno – Nynorsk

Glottolog norw1258[2]

Linguasphere 52-AAA-ba to -be; 52-AAA-cf to -cg

Areas where Norwegian is spoken, including North Dakota
North Dakota
(where 0.4% of the population speaks Norwegian) and Minnesota
(0.1% of the population) (Data: U.S. Census 2000).

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode
characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

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Norwegian (norsk) is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is the official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic 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, the two official forms of written Norwegian are Bokmål
(literally "book tongue") and Nynorsk (literally "new Norwegian"). The official Norwegian Language
Council (Språkrådet) is responsible for regulating the two forms, and recommends the terms "Norwegian Bokmål" and "Norwegian Nynorsk" in English.[citation needed] Two other written forms without official status also exist, one, called Riksmål ("state language"), is today to a large extent the same language as Bokmål
though somewhat closer to the Danish language. It is regulated by the unofficial Norwegian Academy, which translates the name as "Standard Norwegian". The other is Høgnorsk ("High Norwegian"), a more purist form of Nynorsk, which maintains the language in an original form as given by Ivar Aasen
Ivar Aasen
and rejects most of the reforms from the 20th century; this form has limited use. Nynorsk
and Bokmål
provide standards for how to write Norwegian, but not for how to speak the language. No standard of spoken Norwegian is officially sanctioned, and most Norwegians
speak their own dialects in all circumstances. Thus, unlike in many other countries, the use of any Norwegian dialect, whether it coincides with the written norms or not, is accepted as correct spoken Norwegian. However, in areas where East Norwegian dialects
Norwegian dialects
are used, a tendency exists to accept a de facto spoken standard for this particular regional dialect, Urban East Norwegian or Standard East Norwegian (Norwegian: Standard Østnorsk), in which the vocabulary coincides with Bokmål.[3][4] Outside Eastern Norway, this spoken variation is not used. 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
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.[citation needed] Thus, 13% are frequently writing Nynorsk, though the majority speak dialects that resemble Nynorsk
more closely than Bokmål.[5] 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 southern part of northern Norway
( Nordland
county). Today, not only is Nynorsk
the official language of four of the 19 Norwegian counties, but also of many municipalities in five other counties. NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting corporation, 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, and Nynorsk
in 8% (2000).[citation needed] Norwegian is one of the working languages of the Nordic Council. Under the Nordic Language
Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
who speak Norwegian have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries
Nordic countries
without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs.[6][7] Norwegian is one of the two official languages in Norway. The other is Sami, spoken by some members of the Sami people, mostly in the Northern part of Norway. Norwegian and Sami are not mutually intelligible, as Sami belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of languages. Sami is spoken by less than one percent of people in Norway.


1 History

1.1 Origins 1.2 Advent of Christianity 1.3 Dano-Norwegian 1.4 Danish to Norwegian

2 Phonology

2.1 Consonants 2.2 Vowels 2.3 Accent

3 Written language

3.1 Alphabet 3.2 Bokmål
and Nynorsk 3.3 Riksmål 3.4 Høgnorsk 3.5 Current usage

4 Dialects 5 Examples 6 Morphology

6.1 Nouns 6.2 Adjectives 6.3 Verbs 6.4 Pronouns 6.5 Determiners 6.6 Particle classes 6.7 Compound words

7 Vocabulary 8 See also 9 References 10 Bibliography 11 External links

History[edit] Origins[edit]

The approximate extent of Old Norse
Old Norse
and related languages in the early 10th century:    Old West Norse
Old West Norse
dialect   Old East Norse dialect   Old Gutnish   Old English   Crimean Gothic   Other Germanic languages
Germanic languages
with which Old Norse
Old Norse
still retained some mutual intelligibility

Like most of the languages in Europe, the Norwegian language
Norwegian language
descends from the Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
spoken about 5500 years ago on the Pontic–Caspian steppe
Pontic–Caspian steppe
north of the Black Sea.[8] As early Indo-Europeans spread across Europe, they became isolated and new languages evolved. In the northwest of Europe, the West Germanic languages evolved, which would eventually become English, Dutch, German, and the Scandinavian languages, of which Norwegian is one. Proto-Norse
is thought to have evolved as a northern dialect of Proto-Germanic during the first centuries AD. It is the earliest stage of a characteristically North Germanic language, and the language attested in the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
inscriptions, the oldest form of the runic alphabets. A number of inscriptions are memorials to the dead, while others are magical in content. The oldest are carved on loose objects, while later ones are chiseled in runestones.[9] They are the oldest written record of any Germanic language. Around 800 AD, the script was simplified to the Younger Futhark, and inscriptions became more abundant. At the same time, the beginning of the Viking Age
Viking Age
led to the spread of Old Norse
Old Norse
to Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. Viking colonies also existed in parts of the British Isles, France (Normandy), and Russia. In all of these places except Iceland
and the Faroes, Old Norse
Old Norse
speakers went extinct or were absorbed into the local population.[9] Advent of Christianity[edit] Around 1030, Christianity came to Scandinavia, bringing with it the Latin script. The Scandinavian languages at this time are not considered to be separate languages, although there were minor differences among what are customarily called Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian, Old Gutnish, Old Danish, and Old Swedish. New words began to enter the language from the church. Because of the economic dominance of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
between 1250 and 1450, the main Scandinavian cities had large Middle Low German-speaking populations. The influence of their language on Scandinavian is similar to that of French on English after the Norman conquest.[9] Dano-Norwegian[edit] In the late Middle Ages, dialects began to develop in Scandinavia because population was rural and little travel occurred. When the Reformation came from Germany, Martin Luther's High German translation of the Bible was quickly translated into Swedish, Danish, and Icelandic. Norway
entered a union with Denmark in 1397. Danish was the language of the elite, the church, literature, and the law. When the union with Denmark ended in 1814, the Dano-Norwegian koiné had become the mother tongue of many Norwegians.[10] Danish to Norwegian[edit] Main article: Norwegian language
Norwegian language

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It has been suggested that this article be split into a new article titled Samnorsk. (Discuss) (January 2017)

From the 1840s, some writers experimented with a Norwegianised Danish by incorporating words that were descriptive of Norwegian scenery and folk life, and adopting a more Norwegian syntax. Knud Knudsen proposed to change spelling and inflection in accordance with the Dano-Norwegian koiné, known as "cultivated everyday speech." A small adjustment in this direction was implemented in the first official reform of the Danish language
Danish language
in Norway
in 1862 and more extensively after his death in two official reforms in 1907 and 1917. Meanwhile, a nationalistic movement strove for the development of a new written Norwegian. Ivar Aasen, a botanist and self-taught linguist, began his work to create a new Norwegian language
Norwegian language
at the age of 22. He traveled around the country collecting words and examples of grammar from the dialects and comparing the dialects among the different regions. He examined the development of Icelandic, which had largely escaped the influences under which Norwegian had come. He called his work, which was published in several books from 1848 to 1873, Landsmål, meaning "national language". The name "Landsmål" is sometimes interpreted as "rural language" or "country language", but this was clearly not Aasen's intended meaning. The name of the Danish language
Danish language
in Norway
was a topic of hot dispute through the 19th century. Its proponents claimed that it was a language common to Norway
and Denmark, and no more Danish than Norwegian. The proponents of Landsmål
thought that the Danish character of the language should not be concealed. In 1899, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
proposed the neutral name Riksmål, meaning national language like Landsmål, and this was officially adopted along with the 1907 spelling reform. The name "Riksmål" is sometimes interpreted as "state language", but this meaning is secondary at best. (Compare to Danish rigsmål from where the name was borrowed.) After the personal union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, both languages were developed further and reached what is now considered their classic forms after a reform in 1917. Riksmål was in 1929 officially renamed Bokmål
(literally "book language"), and Landsmål to Nynorsk
(literally "new Norwegian"). A proposition to substitute Danish-Norwegian (dansk-norsk) for Bokmål
lost in parliament by a single vote. The name Nynorsk, the linguistic term for modern Norwegian, was chosen for contrast to Danish and emphasis on the historical connection to Old Norwegian. Today, this meaning is often lost, and it is commonly mistaken as a "new" Norwegian in contrast to the "real" Norwegian Bokmål. Bokmål
and Nynorsk
were made closer by a reform in 1938. This was a result of a state policy to merge Nynorsk
and Bokmål
into a single language, to be called Samnorsk. A 1946 poll showed that this policy was supported by 79% of Norwegians
at the time. However, opponents of the official policy still managed to create a massive protest movement against Samnorsk
in the 1950s, fighting in particular the use of "radical" forms in Bokmål
text books in schools. In the reform in 1959, the 1938 reform was partially reversed in Bokmål, but Nynorsk was changed further towards Bokmål. Since then Bokmål
has reverted even further toward traditional Riksmål, while Nynorsk
still adheres to the 1959 standard. Therefore, a small minority of Nynorsk enthusiasts uses a more conservative standard called Høgnorsk. The Samnorsk
policy had little influence after 1960, and was officially abandoned in 2002. Phonology[edit] Main article: Norwegian phonology

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While the sound systems of Norwegian and Swedish are similar, considerable variation exists among the dialects. Consonants[edit]

Consonant phonemes of Urban East Norwegian

Labial Dental/ Alveolar Palato- alveolar Retroflex Velar Glottal

Nasal m n

ɳ ŋ

Stop p b t d

ʈ ɖ k ɡ

Fricative f s ʃ ʂ


Approximant ʋ l

ɭ j



The retroflex consonants only appear in East Norwegian dialects
Norwegian dialects
as a result of sandhi, combining /ɾ/ with /d/, /l/, /n/, /s/, and /t/. The realization of the rhotic /ɾ/ depends on the dialect. In Eastern, Central, and Northern Norwegian dialects, it is a tap [ɾ], whereas in Western and Southern Norway, and for some speakers also in Eastern Norway, it is rendered more gutturally as [χ] or [ʁ]. And in the dialects of North-Western Norway, it is realized as [r], much like the trilled R of Spanish. Vowels[edit]

Vowel phonemes of Urban East Norwegian

Orthography IPA Description

a /ɑ/ Open back unrounded

ai /ɑɪ̯/

au /æʉ/

e (short) /ɛ/, /æ/ open mid front unrounded

e (long) /e/, /æ/ close-mid front unrounded

e (weak) /ə/ schwa (mid central unrounded)

ei /æɪ/, /ɛɪ/

i (short) /ɪ/ close front unrounded

i (long) /i/ close front unrounded

o /u, o, ɔ/ close back rounded

oi /ɔʏ/

u /ʉ/, /u/ close central rounded (close front extra rounded)

y (short) /ʏ/ close front rounded (close front less rounded)

y (long) /y/ close front rounded (close front less rounded)

æ /æ/, /ɛ/ near open front unrounded

ø /ø/ close-mid front rounded

øy /øʏ/

å /ɔ/ open-mid back rounded

Accent[edit] Norwegian is a pitch accent language with two distinct pitch patterns, like Swedish. They are used to differentiate two-syllable words with otherwise identical pronunciation. For example, in many East Norwegian dialects, the word "bønder" (farmers) is pronounced using tone 1, while "bønner" (beans or prayers) uses tone 2. Though spelling differences occasionally differentiate written words, in most cases the minimal pairs are written alike, since written Norwegian has no explicit accent marks. In most eastern low-tone dialects, accent 1 uses a low flat pitch in the first syllable, while accent 2 uses a high, sharply falling pitch in the first syllable and a low pitch in the beginning of the second syllable. In both accents, these pitch movements are followed by a rise of intonational nature (phrase accent)—the size (and presence) of which signals emphasis or focus, and corresponds in function to the normal accent in languages that lack lexical tone, such as English. That rise culminates in the final syllable of an accentual phrase, while the utterance-final fall common in most languages is either very small or absent. There are significant variations in pitch accent between dialects. Thus, in most of western and northern Norway
(the so-called high-pitch dialects) accent 1 is falling, while accent 2 is rising in the first syllable and falling in the second syllable or somewhere around the syllable boundary. The pitch accents (as well as the peculiar phrase accent in the low-tone dialects) give the Norwegian language
Norwegian language
a "singing" quality that makes it easy to distinguish from other languages. Interestingly, accent 1 generally occurs in words that were monosyllabic in Old Norse, and accent 2 in words that were polysyllabic. Written language[edit]

Danish keyboard with keys for Æ, Ø, and Å. On Norwegian keyboards, the Æ
and Ø
are swapped.

Main article: Norwegian orthography Alphabet[edit] Main article: Danish and Norwegian alphabet The Norwegian alphabet
Norwegian alphabet
has 29 letters.[11]


a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z æ ø å

The letters c, q, w, x and z are only used in loanwords. As loanwords are assimilated into Norwegian, their spelling might change to reflect Norwegian pronunciation and the principles of Norwegian orthography, e.g. zebra in Norwegian is written sebra. Due to historical reasons, some otherwise Norwegian family names are also written using these letters. Some letters may be modified by diacritics: é, è, ê, ó, ò, and ô. In Nynorsk, ì and ù and ỳ are occasionally seen as well. The diacritics are not compulsory, but may in a few cases distinguish between different meanings of the word, e.g.: for (for/to), fór (went), fòr (furrow) and fôr (fodder). Loanwords may be spelled with other diacritics, most notably ü, á and à. Bokmål
and Nynorsk[edit] Main articles: Bokmål
and Nynorsk

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Like some other European countries, Norway
has an official "advisory board"— Språkrådet (Norwegian Language
Council)— that determines, after approval from the Ministry of Culture, official spelling, grammar, and vocabulary for the Norwegian language. The board's work has been subject to considerable controversy throughout the years. Both Nynorsk
and Bokmål
have a great variety of optional forms. The Bokmål
that uses the forms that are close to Riksmål is called moderate or conservative, depending on one's viewpoint, while the Bokmål
that uses the forms that are close to Nynorsk
is called radical. Nynorsk
has forms that are close to the original Landsmål and forms that are close to Bokmål. Riksmål[edit] Main article: Riksmål

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Map of the official language forms of Norwegian municipalities. Red is Bokmål, blue is Nynorsk
and gray depicts neutral areas.

Opponents of the spelling reforms aimed at bringing Bokmål
closer to Nynorsk
have retained the name Riksmål and employ spelling and grammar that predate the Samnorsk
movement. Riksmål and conservative versions of Bokmål
have been the de facto standard written language of Norway
for most of the 20th century, being used by large newspapers, encyclopedias, and a significant proportion of the population of the capital Oslo, surrounding areas, and other urban areas, as well as much of the literary tradition. Since the reforms of 1981 and 2003 (effective in 2005), the official Bokmål
can be adapted to be almost identical with modern Riksmål. The differences between written Riksmål and Bokmål
are comparable to American and British English differences. Riksmål is regulated by the Norwegian Academy, which determines acceptable spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. Høgnorsk[edit] Main article: Høgnorsk

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There is also an unofficial form of Nynorsk, called Høgnorsk, discarding the post-1917 reforms, and thus close to Ivar Aasen's original Landsmål. It is supported by Ivar Aasen-sambandet, but has found no widespread use. Current usage[edit]

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In 2010 86.5% of the pupils in the primary and lower secondary schools in Norway
receive education in Bokmål, while 13.0% receive education in Nynorsk. From the eighth grade onwards pupils are required to learn both. Out of the 431 municipalities in Norway, 161 have declared that they wish to communicate with the central authorities in Bokmål, 116 (representing 12% of the population) in Nynorsk, while 156 are neutral. Of 4,549 state publications in 2000 8% were in Nynorsk, and 92% in Bokmål. The large national newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet, and VG) are published in Bokmål
or Riksmål. Some major regional newspapers (including Bergens Tidende
Bergens Tidende
and Stavanger Aftenblad), many political journals, and many local newspapers use both Bokmål
and Nynorsk. A newer trend is to write in dialect for informal use. When writing an SMS, Facebook update, or fridge note, most younger people write the way they talk rather than using Bokmål
or Nynorsk.[citation needed] Dialects[edit] Main article: Norwegian dialects

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There is general agreement that a wide range of differences makes it difficult to estimate the number of different Norwegian dialects. Variations in grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and pronunciation cut across geographical boundaries and can create a distinct dialect at the level of farm clusters. Dialects are in some cases so dissimilar as to be unintelligible to unfamiliar listeners. Many linguists note a trend toward regionalization of dialects that diminishes the differences at such local levels; there is, however, a renewed interest in preserving distinct dialects. Examples[edit]

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Below are a few sentences giving an indication of the differences between Bokmål
and Nynorsk, compared to the conservative (closer to Danish) form Riksmål, Danish, as well as Old Norse, Swedish, Faroese, Icelandic (the living language grammatically closest to Old Norse), Old English
Old English
and some modern West Germanic languages:

Language Phrase

Modern English I come from Norway What is his name? This is a horse The rainbow has many colours

Danish Jeg kommer fra Norge Hvad hedder han? Dette er en hest Regnbuen har mange farver

Riksmål Hva heter han?

Bokmål Regnbuen har mange farger

Nynorsk Eg kjem frå Noreg Kva heiter han? Dette er ein hest Regnbogen har mange fargar/leter Regnbogen er mangleta

Høgnorsk Regnbogen hev mange leter / Regnbogen er manglìta

Old Norse Ek kem frá Noregi Hvat heitir hann? Þetta er hross / Þessi er hestr Regnboginn er marglitr

Icelandic Ég kem frá Noregi Hvað heitir hann? Þetta er hestur/hross Regnboginn er marglitur

Faroese Eg komi úr Noregi/Norra Hvussu eitur hann? Hetta er eitt ross / ein hestur Ælabogin hevur nógvar litir / Ælabogin er marglittur

Swedish Jag kommer från Norge Vad heter han? Detta är en häst Regnbågen har många färger

Old English Ic cume fram Norwegan Hwat hatþ he? Þis is hors Se regnboga hæfð manige hiw

German Ich komme aus Norwegen Wie heißt er? Das ist ein Pferd Der Regenbogen hat viele Farben

Dutch Ik kom uit Noorwegen Hoe heet hij? Dit is een paard De regenboog heeft veel (vele) kleuren

Afrikaans Ek kom van Noorweë Wat is sy naam? Hoe heet hy? (more archaic and formal) Dit is 'n perd Die reënboog het baie kleure

West Frisian Ik kom út Noarwegen Hoe hjit er? Dit is in hynder De reinbôge hat in protte kleuren

Low Saxon Ik kom üüt Noorwegen Ho hit e? Dit is een peerd De regenboge hev völe klören


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Nouns[edit] Norwegian nouns are inflected or declined in definiteness (indefinite/definite) and number (singular/plural). In some dialects, definite nouns are furthermore declined in case (nominative/dative). As in most Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
(English being one of a few exceptions), nouns are classified by gender, which has consequences for the declension of agreeing adjectives and determiners. Norwegian has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter—except the Bergen dialect, which has only two genders: common and neuter. Riksmål and conservative Bokmål
traditionally have two genders like Danish, but Nynorsk
and many Norwegian regional dialects have three genders.

Noun forms båt (boat) in Bokmål

Singular Plural

Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite

en båt båten båter båtene

The declension of regular nouns depends on gender. Some dialects and variants of Nynorsk
furthermore have different declension of weak and strong feminines and neuters.


m. en gutt (a boy) gutten (the boy) gutter (boys) guttene (the boys)

en fot (a foot) foten (the foot) føtter (feet) føttene (the feet)

en måne (a moon) månen (the moon) måner (moons) månene (the moons)

f. ei/en dør (a door) døra/døren (the door) dører (doors) dørene (the doors)

ei/en hånd (a hand) hånda/hånden (the hand) hender (hands) hendene (the hands)

ei/en jente (a girl) jenta/jenten (the girl) jenter (girls) jentene (the girls)

n. et hus (a house) huset (the house) hus (houses) husene/husa (the houses)

et eple (an apple) eplet (the apple) epler (apples) eplene (the apples)

As of June 5, 2005, all feminine nouns could once again be written as masculine nouns in Bokmål, giving the option of writing the language with only two genders – common and neuter.


Plurals with "ar" English

m. ein gut guten gutar gutane boy

f. ei dronning dronninga (dronningi) dronningar dronningane queen

Plurals with "er"

m. ein sau sauen sauer sauene sheep

f. ei sol sola (soli) soler solene sun


m. ein ting tingen ting tinga (tingi) thing

n. eit hus huset hus husa (husi) house

eit rike riket rike rika (riki) kingdom

Plurals with i-mutation

m. ein fot foten føter føtene foot

ein nagl naglen negler neglene nail

f. ei bok boka (boki) bøker bøkene book

ei hand handa (handi) hender hendene hand

ei stong stonga (stongi) stenger stengene rod

ei tå tåa (tåi) tær tærne toe

Weak declension

m. ein måne månen månar månane moon

f. ei tunge (ei tunga) tunga tunger (tungor) tungene (tungone) tongue

n. eit auga auga augo augo eye

Note that most masculine nouns with "er" plurals, may also be realised with "ar" plurals. Likewise, feminine nouns with "ar" plurals that do not end in -ing, often are seen with "er" endings. These two declensions are by far the most common. Also note that weak neuter nouns like auga n. also are regularly seen declined like rike n.: auge – auget – auge – auga. Adjectives[edit] Norwegian adjectives have two inflectional paradigms. The weak inflection is applicable when the argument is definite, the strong inflection is used when the argument is indefinite. In both paradigms the adjective is declined in comparison (positive/comparative/superlative). Strong, positive adjectives are furthermore declined in gender and number in agreement with their argument. In some southwestern dialects, the weak positive is also declined in gender and number, with one form for feminine and plural, and one form for masculine and neuter. In Norwegian, a definite noun has a suffixed article (cf. above). It is noteworthy, however, that when a definitive noun is preceded by an adjective (or a numeral), an additional definite article is placed in front of the adjective, thus producing double definiteness. (In Bokmål, though, the suffixed article may be dropped in these cases, due to its Danish origin. When this is invoked, it is typically considered to lend a formal or "old-fashioned" flavor to the phrasing.) Example of weak positive inflection in Nynorsk: huset—det grøne huset (the house—the green house). Examples of weak positive inflection in Bokmål: "det grønne huset" (the green house), "den grønne bilen" (the green car), or "Det Hvite Hus" (The White House—note the dropped suffix). Whenever the noun is preceded by a pronoun, the suffix is always dropped: "mitt grønne hus" (my green house), "min grønne bil" (my green car). Note, however the more common phrasing of these sentiments: "det grønne huset mitt" (my green house), "den grønne bilen min" (my green car). Examples of strong positive inflection in Bokmål: "et grønt hus" (a green house), "en grønn bil" (a green car); likewise "grønt lys, grønn bil" (green light, green car) if no article is used. Examples of comparative and superlative inflections in Bokmål: "et hvitere hus" (a whiter house), "den grønneste bilen" (the greenest car); "hvitere hus" (whiter house), "grønnest bil" (greenest car).

Adjective forms grønn/ grøn (green) and åpen/ open (open)

Weak declension Strong declension

Positive Comparative Superlative Positive Comparative Superlative

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

Bokmål grønne grønnere grønneste grønn grønn grønt grønne grønnere grønnest

åpne åpnere åpneste åpen åpen åpent åpne åpnere åpnest

Nynorsk grøne grønare grønaste grøn grøn grønt grøne grønare grønast

opne opnare opnaste open open ope opne opnare opnast

Verbs[edit] Norwegian finite verbs are inflected or conjugated according to mood: indicative/imperative/subjunctive. The subjunctive mood is constrained to only a handful of verbs. Indicative verbs are conjugated for tense: present / past / future. The infinitive, present and past tense also have a passive form. In a few dialects, indicative verbs are also conjugated according to number. Agreement with person is lost in Norwegian. There are four non-finite verb forms: infinitive, passive infinitive, and the two participles perfective/past participle and imperfective/present participle. The participles are verbal adjectives. The imperfective participle is not declined, whereas the perfect participle is declined for gender (though not in Bokmål) and number like strong, positive adjectives. The definite form of the participle is identical to the plural form. As with other Germanic languages, Norwegian verbs can be either weak or strong.

forms in Nynorsk leva (to live) and finna (to find)

Finite Non-finite

Indicative Subjunctive Imperative Verbal nouns Verbal adjectives (Participles)

Present Past Infinitive Imperfective Perfective

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural/Def

Active lever levde leve lev leva levande levd levd levt levde

finn fann

finn finna (har) funne funnen funnen funne funne

Passive levest levdest


finst fannst


forms in Bokmål leve (to live) and finne (to find)

Finite Non-finite

Indicative Subjunctive Imperative Verbal nouns Verbal adjectives (Participles)

Present Past Infinitive Imperfective Perfective

Singular Plural/Def

Active lever levde/ levet leve lev leve levende levd levde/ levet

finner fant

finn finne (har) funnet funnet funne

Passive leves levdes


fins/ finnes fantes

finnes (har funnes)

Pronouns[edit] Norwegian personal pronouns are declined according to case: nominative / accusative. Some of the dialects that have preserved the dative in nouns, also have a dative case instead of the accusative case in personal pronouns, while others have accusative in pronouns and dative in nouns, effectively giving these dialects three distinct cases. In the most comprehensive Norwegian grammar, Norsk referansegrammatikk, the categorization of personal pronouns by person, gender, and number is not regarded as inflection. As with nouns, adjectives must agree with the gender and number of pronoun arguments. Other pronouns have no inflection. The so-called possessive, demonstrative and relative pronouns are no longer considered pronouns. Pronouns are a closed class.

Examples of pronouns in Bokmål

Nominative Accusative English equivalent

jeg meg I, me

du deg you (singular)

han ham/han he, him

hun henne she, her

den den it (masculine/feminine)

det det it (neuter)

vi oss we, us

dere dere you (plural)

de dem they, them

Examples of pronouns in Nynorsk

Nominative Accusative English equivalent

eg meg I, me

du deg you (singular)

han han/honom he, him or it (masculine)

ho ho/henne she, her or it (feminine)

det det it (neuter)

me/vi oss we, us

de dykk you (plural)

dei dei they, them

Bokmål, like English, has two sets of 3rd person pronouns. Han and hun refer to male and female individuals respectively, den and det refer to impersonal or inanimate nouns, of masculine/feminine or neutral gender respectively. In contrast, Nynorsk
and most dialects use the same set of pronouns (han (m.), ho (f.) and det (n.)) for both personal and impersonal references. Det also has expletive and cataphoric uses like in the English examples it rains and it was known by everyone (that) he had travelled the world. Determiners[edit] The closed class of Norwegian determiners are declined in gender and number in agreement with their argument. Not all determiners are inflected.

Determiner forms egen (own) in Bokmål

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

egen/eigen egen/eiga eget/eige egne/eigne

Determiner forms eigen (own) in Nynorsk

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural

eigen eiga eige eigne

Particle classes[edit] Norwegian has five closed classes without inflection, i.e. lexical categories with grammatical function and a finite number of members that may not be distinguished by morphological criteria. These are interjections, conjunctions, subjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs. The inclusion of adverbs here requires that traditional adverbs that are inflected in comparison be classified as adjectives, as is sometimes done. Compound words[edit] In Norwegian compound words, the head, i.e. the part determining the compound's class, is the last part. Only the first part has primary stress. For instance, the compound tenketank (think tank) has primary stress on the first syllable and is a noun (some sort of tank). Compound words are written together in Norwegian, which can cause words to become very long, for example sannsynlighetsmaksimeringsestimator (maximum likelihood estimator) and menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner (human rights organizations). Another example is the title høyesterettsjustitiarius (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, originally a combination of supreme court and the actual title, justiciar). Note also the translation En midtsommernattsdrøm (A Midsummer Night's Dream). If they are not written together, each part is naturally read with primary stress, and the meaning of the compound is lost. Examples of this in English are the difference between a green house and a greenhouse or a black board and a blackboard. This is sometimes forgotten, occasionally with humorous results. Instead of writing, for example, lammekoteletter (lamb chops), people make the mistake of writing lamme koteletter (lame, or paralyzed, chops). The original message can even be reversed, as when røykfritt (lit. "smoke-free" meaning no smoking) becomes røyk fritt (smoke freely). Other examples include:

Terrasse dør ("Terrace dies") instead of Terrassedør ("Terrace door") Tunfisk biter ("Tuna bites", verb) instead of Tunfiskbiter ("Tuna bits", noun) Smult ringer ("Lard calls", verb) instead of Smultringer ("Doughnuts") Tyveri sikret ("Theft guaranteed") instead of Tyverisikret ("Theft proof") Stekt kylling lever ("Fried chicken lives", verb) instead of Stekt kyllinglever ("Fried chicken liver", noun) Smør brød ("Butter bread", verb) instead of Smørbrød ("Sandwich") Klipp fisk ("Cut fish", verb) instead of Klippfisk ("Clipfish") På hytte taket ("On cottage the roof") instead of På hyttetaket ("On the cottage roof") Altfor Norge ("Too Norway") instead of Alt for Norge ("Everything for Norway", the royal motto of Norway)

These misunderstandings occur because most nouns can be interpreted as verbs or other types of words. Similar misunderstandings can be achieved in English too. The following are examples of phrases that both in Norwegian and English mean one thing as a compound word, and something different when regarded as separate words:

stavekontroll (spellchecker) or stave kontroll (spell checker) kokebok (cookbook) or koke bok (cook book) ekte håndlagde vafler (real handmade waffles) or ekte hånd lagde vafler (real hand made waffles)

Syntax Norwegian syntax is predominantly SVO with the subject of the sentence coming first, then the object coming second and the verb finally. However, like many other Germanic languages
Germanic languages
such as Dutch, it has a V2 rule, which means that the finite verb will be placed as the second element within a sentence. No matter what, the finite/conjugated verb will always be the second element of a sentence. E.g: •"Jeg spiser fisk i dag" (I eat fish today) •"I dag spiser jeg fisk" (Today, I eat fish) •"Jeg vil drikke kaffe i dag" (I want to drink coffee today) •"I dag vil jeg drikke kaffe" (Today, I want to drink coffee) Any piece of the sentence could be placed first to highlight its importance, but the finite verb must always come second. Adjectives always precede the noun that they modify. Vocabulary[edit]

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Norwegian ambulances changed their markings in 2005. This is the old appearance, with the Norwegian ambulanse, "Ambulance."

By far the largest part of the modern vocabulary of Norwegian dates back to Old Norse. The largest source of loanwords is Middle Low German, which had a huge influence on Norwegian vocabulary from the late Middle Ages onwards partially even influencing grammatical structures, such as genitive constructions. At present, the main source of new loanwords is English e.g. rapper, e-mail, catering, juice, bag (originally a loan word to English from Old Norse). Some loanwords have their spelling changed to reflect Norwegian pronunciation rules, but in general Norwegianised spellings of these words tend to take a long time to sink in: e.g. sjåfør (from French chauffeur) and revansj (from French revanche) are now the common Norwegian spellings, but juice is more often used than the Norwegianised form jus, catering more often than keitering, service more often than sørvis, etc. Norwegian has also and continues to borrow words and phrases from both Danish and Swedish to a relatively large extent. And though there are very often related, similar- or identical-sounding words in those languages, the spelling in Norwegian is often less conservative and, arguably, closer to the pronunciation, and thus different from the others, and four of the letters most shunned in Norwegian in comparison to the other Scandinavian languages are "c", "d", "j" and "x". Norwegian hei is hej in Swedish and Danish; the words "sex" and "six" are sex and seks in Norwegian, but in Swedish they are both sex; Danish words ending in -tion end in -sjon to reflect pronunciation and many traditional Danish spellings with d preceded by another consonant are changed to double consonants, such as in the Danish for water, vand, versus Norwegian (Bokmål) spelling vann, but "sand" is spelled sand in both languages (Norwegian was standardized this way because in some dialects a "d" was pronounced in sand, whereas Norwegian speakers pronounced vann without a "d"-sound). (The word for water in Nynorsk is vatn.) See also[edit]

portal Languages portal

edition of, the free encyclopedia

edition of, the free encyclopedia

For a list of words relating to Norwegian language, see the Norwegian language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Norwegian.

has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Norwegian Language.

Differences between the Norwegian and Danish languages Noregs Mållag Norsk Ordbok Det Norske Akademi for Sprog og Litteratur Riksmålsforbundet Russenorsk Tone (linguistics)


^ "Norwegian". Ethnologue. Retrieved January 24, 2018.  ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Norwegian". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/sin/article/viewFile/17027/14789 ^ Kristoffersen, Gjert (2000). The Phonology of Norwegian. Oxford University Press. pp. 6–11. ISBN 978-0-19-823765-5.  ^ Venås, Kjell (1994). "Dialekt og normaltalemålet". Apollon. 1. ISSN 0803-6926. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24.  ^ Konvention mellan Sverige, Danmark, Finland, Island och Norge om nordiska medborgares rätt att använda sitt eget språk i annat nordiskt land, Nordic Council
Nordic Council
website. Retrieved on May 4, 2008. ^ 20th anniversary of the Nordic Language
Convention, Nordic news, February 22, 2007. Retrieved on April 25, 2007. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007). The horse, the wheel, and language : how bronze-age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world (8th reprint. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05887-3.  ^ a b c "Scandinavian languages". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 September 2016. [permanent dead link] ^ Norwegian "The Norwegian language" Check url= value (help). Norwegian on the Web. Retrieved 11 September 2016. [permanent dead link] ^ Torp, Arne. 2001. Bokstaver og alfabet. Språknytt 4. (in Norwegian)


Olav T. Beito, Nynorsk
grammatikk. Lyd- og ordlære, Det Norske Samlaget, Oslo 1986, ISBN 82-521-2801-7 Jan Terje Faarlund, Svein Lie, Kjell Ivar Vannebo, Norsk referansegrammatikk, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1997, 2002 (3rd edition), ISBN 82-00-22569-0 ( Bokmål
and Nynorsk) Rolf Theil Endresen, Hanne Gram Simonsen, Andreas Sveen, Innføring i lingvistikk (2002), ISBN 82-00-45273-5 Arne Torp, Lars S. Vikør (1993), Hovuddrag i norsk språkhistorie (3.utgåve), Gyldendal Norsk Forlag AS 2003 Lars S. Vikør (2015), Norwegian: Bokmål
vs. Nynorsk, on Språkrådet's website The Norwegian Language
Council (1994), Language
usage in Norway's civil service, in English

External links[edit]

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Norwegian

Ordboka - Online dictionary search, both Bokmål
and Nynorsk. Norwegian Phrasebook travel guide from Wikivoyage  Fiske, Willard (1879). "Norway, Language
and Literature of". The American Cyclopædia.  Norwegian as a Normal Language, in English, at Språkrådet

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