Norwegian language

Norwegian belongs to the Eastern Scandinavian group of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Swedish and Danish. The three languages evolved from the Old Norse, a language spoken in the areas of Scandinavia that are now Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

To this day, Danes, Norwegians and Swedes can understand each other, although Norwegians tend to understand Danish and Swedish more easily than Danes and Swedes understand Norwegian. Despite the high degree of mutual intelligibility, it would be wrong to call them dialects because the Danes, Norwegians and Swedes consider them to be standardized official languages with their own rules.

Who speaks Norwegian

Norwegian is the official language of Norway, where it is spoken by 4,640,000 people. It is also spoken in the United States, Canada and Sweden. There are 4,741,780 speakers of Norwegian worldwide.

Dialects of Norwegian

Norwegian has two official standard variants, both spoken and written. Both variants are used in the public administration, in religious services and in the media. Newspapers, magazines and books are published in both forms, which have undergone a series of reforms throughout the 20th century. The movement that emerged to join them into a single standard was not successful. 

  • Bokmål ("language of books")

Norwegians learned to write Danish during the four centuries of Danish rule (between 1380 and 1814). However, their spoken language developed independently. After gaining their independence from Denmark, Norwegians were left with a standardized spoken language which, although written like Danish, differed in its phonetic system and vocabulary. This language is known today as Bokmål. Bokmål is the written language used by the vast majority of Norwegians. It is based on the eastern and western dialects of Norwegian. Most Norwegian students are instructed in Bokmål.

  • Nynorsk ("New Norwegian")

Nynorsk appeared as a written language thanks to the language scholar Ivar Aasen in the mid-19th century. It is based on the dialects spoken in the western and central rural districts. Nynorsk has undergone several changes, and today about 15% of Norwegian students are trained in this language.

Bokmål and Nynorsk differ in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The two written varieties are not related either by geography or by spoken dialects.
In addition, Norwegian has many local dialects that are usually divided into four main groups:

  • North (Nordnorsk)
  • Central (Trøndnorsk)
  • Western (Vestnorsk)
  • Eastern (Østnorsk)

Translation agency for Spanish-English-Norwegian

Now that you know a little more about the Norwegian language, you might be interested to know that we offer professional translation services from both English to Norwegian and from Norwegian into English. We specialise in translation from and into Spanish.

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