About Norwegian: Norwegian - two languages

Norwegian - two languages

Norwegian language

Norwegian is in fact not one language but two: Nynorsk (New Norwegian) and Bokmål (Literary Norwegian).
There were and still are in Norwegian many different dialects and variations.
This is due to the area of the land and that many parts of it were historically cut off from each other.
Therefore in the course of time the two variants named above have developed.

Nynorsk – the older variation of Norwegian

Although Nynorsk means “New Norwegian”, it is in fact the older of the two variants.
Nynorsk is closely related to Icelandic and Faroese.
Although many Norwegians speak Nynorsk day to day, very few use its written form.

Bokmål – the written language of Norwegian

Bokmål is used as the written form of the language by the majority of the Norwegian population.
This variant of Norwegian is more widespread than Nynorsk and developed later with strong influences from Danish.
This variant is also dominant in everyday use, the professions and in the media.
In the Norwegian course from 17 Minute Languaes you will learn Bokmål.

Norwegian – a Germanic language

Norwegian belongs to the Germanic group of languages and belongs with Danish, Icelandic and Swedish to the Scandinavian group of languages.
English and German also have their roots in the Germanic group of languages.

From Old Norse to Nynorsk- the development of Norwegian

The origin of modern Norwegian is Old Norse (Nor Norse) that was spread by the Vikings and whose legacy is strongest in Modern Icelandic.
From the 12th Century it was influenced by Danish, Dutch and Swedish.
From the 14th Century onwards Norway belonged to Denmark for over four hundred years and was ruled and administered from Copenhagen.
In the year 1814 was awarded to Sweden as reparations following the Napoleonic wars.
The geography of Norway has, like its history had a strong influence on the language.
Because of the large distances and difficult transport numerous dialects arose and so national standard pronunciation developed.

Norway – Land of many dialects

Norwegian dialects

As well as the two biggest written languages there are today also many important dialects that are used in day to day life.
All Norwegians speak a dialect.
In Oslo a dialect is spoken that is very similar to Bokmål, but it is note a purely written language like Bokmål.
In Norway there is no standard pronunciation, on television either Nynorsk or Bokmål or dialects are used.
Although Bokmå and Nynorsk are similar there are differences.

Overview of Norwegian:

  • 5 Million speakers
  • Official language of Norway
  • Spoken in Norway, Sweden and North America
  • Scandinavian (Germanic) language
  • Two officially recognized and used variants: Nynorsk and Bokmål
  • Roman alphabet with extra letters æ, å and ø

Further Information about Norwegian

We have prepared a number of interesting links for you. Perhaps you will find these interesting?

  1. Learn the 50 most important words of Norwegian for free and with audio.
  2. Further information about Norwegian from Wikipedia.
  3. Do you want to want to visit the Norwegian Language council?
    Here you will find experts about every aspect of Norwegian.
  4. 17 Minute Languages offers Norwegian language courses at various levels:
    Level A1/A2: Basic Norwegian
    Level B1/B2: Intermediate Norwegian
    Level C1/C2: Advanced Norwegian
    Business Norwegian, for everyone who works in Norway
    Express Norwegian the quick start in Norwegian (ideal for travelers)