NORWAY

Norwegian
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Norway is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and famously, deep coastal fjords. Oslo, the capital, is a city of green spaces and museums.

Norwegian is one of the Scandinavian languages, and contrary to popular opinion, it is relatively easy for English speakers to learn. The standard languages of Norway, Sweden and Denmark are mutually intelligible, meaning that the populations of each country can more or less understand each other’s languages in both written and spoken form.

Norwegian language lessons

Norwegian is a Germanic language. Like most Western European languages, it has the advantage of common vocabulary and recognition. It also has easy grammar rules.

Norwegian has two genders: ‘common’ and ‘neuter’. Male and female are grouped under the ‘common’ gender, and it’s not really necessary to learn anything but the two (common and neuter). Most of them are of the common gender, meaning the student only has to keep an eye out for a few neuter gender words.

Norwegian word order is different from other Germanic languages, and much closer to English. Norwegian plurals are very regular. Add an -r to the end if it ends in a vowel, add an -er if it ends in a consonant.

Norwegian is not difficult, so why wait? Start learning!

Why learn Norwegian?

Ten good reasons to start learning with a Norwegian tutor

1.

Stunning scenery

The Norwegian National Anthem begins with the line “yes, we love this land”, and it seems that most people are a little in love with the scenery. For the fjords alone, Norway must be one of the most photogenic countries you’ll ever visit. If you can speak litt norsk (a little Norwegian), then your experience there will be more fulfilling. You will feel part of the experience rather than just an onlooker. 

2.

Cabin hopping!

Norway has a network of cabins that people can hike to and use freely all across the country. For an overnight stay in one of these cabins, you get a clean place to be, a bed, wood for a fire, a place to cook your meal and sometimes the good company of other mountain wanderers. This is when your knowledge of Norwegian will help you find your way and appreciate local customs.

3.

Two for the price of one

Norwegian itself has two official forms. The first is the more formal Bokmål (literally “book tongue”), influenced by Danish and dating from the Danish Empire period. The second is the more modern Norwegian Nynorsk (new Norwegian). Although Norwegians are educated in both, Bokmål enjoys much more widespread usage in formal writing. Whereas Nynorsk tends to be more informal, spoken everywhere, and based on every day Norwegian. 

Children in Norwegian schools have to learn both forms, but no-one really speaks either form: everyone speaks their own dialect! Don’t worry though – it is likely that most dialects will be understood by most Norwegian speakers. Norwegians are used to hearing different dialects all the time.

4.

Compound words make learning simpler

There are a large number of compound words in the Norwegian language. Very often the compound word takes on a whole new meaning from the individual words it is made up from. Take, for example, soloppgang which literally means “sun up going”. This is the word used for “sunrise”. Or, if you have fire (ild) in your soul (sjel) about a particular cause then you’re an “enthusiast”: ildsjel.

An interesting compound word in Norwegian is the word for “outer space”. Going back to Norse mythology, Odin established the different realms (or “rooms”) of the universe, making “outer space” verdensrommet, or “the room of the world”.

5.

You already know some Norwegian

Sitt under the tre with your søster and read your bok!

There are already many words in the Norwegian language that you already know. There are a huge number of cognates – words with similar roots – between English and Norwegian. You’ll be able to work out the meaning of many Norwegian words simply by listening to them or reading them. Some examples are bok (“book”), tre (“tree”), over (“over”), familie (“family”), søster (“sister”), telefon (“telephone”), but there are lots more! English and Norwegian are both Germanic languages and therefore they’re related.

6.

Norwegian grammar is actually easy

Norwegian verbs have some of the easiest conjugation you can find in Europe. Present tense is made by adding an -r to the verb, regardless of who’s doing it. Now that is easy for an English speaker, so much so that it almost feels like you’re cheating somehow when learning verbs.

If you’re used to six forms of conjugated verbs in other languages such as Spanish or French, worry no more. In Norwegian there’s just one form for each tense! So “I am” is jeg er; “you are” is du er; “he is” is han er; and “she is” translates as hun er. That means that “am”, “are” and “is” in English are all simply translated by one word in Norwegian: er.

7.

The Nobel Peace Prize

Since Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded by a committee of five, appointed by the Norwegian Parliament in accordance with Alfred Nobel’s will.

Alfred Nobel never disclosed why he did not give the task of awarding the Peace Prize to a Swedish body, as with other Nobel Prizes. The reason is not known.

One argument is that Nobel admired Norwegian patriot and leading author Bjornstjerne Bjornson; while another is that the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) was the first national legislative body to vote in support of the international peace movement.

8.

The Northern Lights

To experience the unbelievable colours that move across the Arctic sky is on many travellers’ bucket list. Few places on earth offer more ways to witness the northern lights than Norway.

Between late September and late March, Northern Norway is dark from early afternoon until late morning, and the northern lights frequently soar across the sky. This part of Norway, with its multiple islands, deep fjords and steep mountains, is among the most beautiful and interesting places to see the northern lights.

Also, Northern Norway has vast, tranquil spaces without any kind of light pollution. This makes the likelihood of enjoying the Northern Lights more positive. It will be so much more rewarding if you know just a smattering of Norwegian.

9.

Fjords

Everyone has heard of the fjords. We have taken the word ‘fjord’ from the Norwegian – and rightly so. A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea or lakedrain, with steep land on three sides.

Fjord is one of the few Norwegian words that have become international, especially in English where it is used directly. Fjord comes from the Norse fjǫrðr. Fjord basically means “where one fares through”, so has the same origin as the word “fare” (travel). The verb “fare” and the noun “ferry”, have the same origin. That was your first Norwegian lesson!

10.

Eco-friendly travel

Norway is a great champion of sustainable tourism that leaves as little an environmental footprint as possible on our planet. You can travel by electric bike, along some of the the newly built cycle tracks. Or take one of the incredible scenic railway experiences along Norway’s 2,000 km of electrified track. Or board an electric mini cruise ship to view the fjords in silence and tranquility. Then maybe take a drive up the mountains in an electric car on breathtaking winding roads where you might just find a charging station at the top. The use of electric cars is more prevalent in Norway than anywhere else in the world.

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David has an excellent high-level Norwegian vocabulary which is exactly what I was looking for.

Lera – Learning Norwegian

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