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Norwegian Learning

……Contents from internet www.101languages.net

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Contents table

CHAPTER I Pronunciation...............................................................................................................3
 Vowels ..............................................................................................................................3
 Consonants........................................................................................................................4
 Diphthongs........................................................................................................................5
 Exceptions.........................................................................................................................7
CHAPTER II Phrases & Vocabulary................................................................................................7
 Basics ................................................................................................................................7
 Problems .........................................................................................................................10
 Numbers..........................................................................................................................12
 Time ................................................................................................................................16
 Colors..............................................................................................................................20
 Transportation .................................................................................................................21
 Lodging ...........................................................................................................................24
 Money .............................................................................................................................26
 Eating ..............................................................................................................................27
 Bars .................................................................................................................................30
 Shopping .........................................................................................................................32
 Driving ............................................................................................................................34
 Authority .........................................................................................................................35
CHAPTER III Norwegian languages..............................................................................................36
 Overview.........................................................................................................................36
 Dialects ...........................................................................................................................37
 Grammar .........................................................................................................................38
 History.............................................................................................................................39
 Vocabulary ......................................................................................................................41
 Wrriten language.............................................................................................................41

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CHAPTER I Pronunciation

 Vowels

Each vowel can be pronounced either as "long" or "short". A short vowel is


always be followed by a double consonant (i.e. two similar consonants, such
as ll or tt). A long vowel is not.

For example, in Norwegian "it" will be pronounced as in 'eet', whereas "itt"


will be pronounced as english 'iht'.

The Norwegian vowels are pronounced in almost the same way as in


German. There are three additional vowels. æ (Æ), ø (Ø), and å (Å).

a
like 'a' in "father"

e
like 'e' in "better" (but like æ if it is followed by an r)

i
like 'i' in "pin"

o (short)
like 'o' in "lord"

o (long)
like 'oo' in "spooky"

u
like 'oo' in "foot"

y
like 'i' in "pin" (but firmer; y doesn't correspond to any sound in English.
English speakers may have difficulty distinguishing Norwegian's i and y.)

æ
like 'a' in "hat"

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ø
like 'u' in "burn"

å
like 'o' in "lord"

 Consonants

b
like 'b' in "book"

c
like 'c' in "cat" (mostly foreign words)

d
like 'd' in "dog"

f
like 'f' in "face"

g
like 'g' in "good", like 'y' in "yes" (before i or j), silent at the end of words

h
like 'h' in "hat"

j
like 'y' in "yes"

k
like 'k' in "keep", like 'ch' in Scottish "loch" (before i or j)

l
like 'l' in "late"

m
like 'm' in "mouse"

n
like 'n' in "nice"

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p
like 'p' in "push"

q
like 'q' in "quick" (mostly foreign words)

r
like 'r' in "feather" (very soft, as in German)

s
like 's' in "sun" (not like 'z' in "zap")

t
like 't' in "top"

v
like 'v' in "viper"

w
like 'w' in "water" (mostly foreign words)

x
like 'x' in "box" (mostly foreign words)

z
like 'z' in "zipper" (mostly foreign words)

 Diphthongs

ei
like 'a' in "babe" (æ-i)

ai
like 'i' in "pine" (a-i)

au
like 'ou' in "mouse" (æ-u)

oi
like 'oy' in "boy" (å-y)

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øy
like 'ooey' in "gooey" (ø-y)

sj
like 'sh' in "shit"

skj
like 'sh' in "shit"

rs
like 'sh' in "shit"

kj
like 'ch' in Scottish "loch", German "ich", very similar to Greek '?'

ng
like 'ng' in "long"

rt
like 'rt' in "art"

rn
like 'rn' in "burn"

ld
like 'll' in "ball" (makes vowels long, too)

nd
like 'nn' in "banner" (makes vowels long)

hj
like 'y' in "yes"

hv
like 'v' in "victory"

lj
like 'y' in "yes" (rare)

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 Exceptions

de
like "dee" in "deer" (just as a whole word)

og
like 'o' in "lord" (just as a whole word)

CHAPTER II Phrases & Vocabulary

 Basics

Good morning.
God morgen. (goh moh-ohrn)

Good evening.
God kveld. (goh kvel)

Good night (to sleep)


God natt. (goh naht)

Hello. (informal)
Hei. (hay)

How are you?


Hvordan går det? (vohrd-ahn gohr deh?)

Fine, thank you.


(Jo) takk, bare bra. (yoh)

What is your name?


Hva heter du? (Va he-ter du)

My name is ______ .
Jeg heter ______ . (jei he-ter _____ .)

Nice to meet you.


Hyggelig å treffe deg. (Hygg-e-li å treff-e dei)
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Please.
Vær så snill.

Thank you.
Tusen takk.

You're welcome.
Bare hyggelig. (Bar-e hygg-e-li)
*Note* More like the english: my pleasure

Yes.
Ja.

Yes (in reply/opposition to a no in a discussion).


Jo.

No.
Nei.

Excuse me. (getting attention)


Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-skyll mei)

Excuse me. (begging pardon)


Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-skyll mei)

I'm sorry. (for a slight mistake)


Beklager. (be-klag-er)

I'm sorry. (I really didn't mean it)


Jeg beklager. (Jei be-klag-er)

I'm sorry.
Jeg er lei meg. (Jei ær lei mei)
*Note* Not used nearly as often as in English, this sincerely means you are
sorry, or can even be interpreted to mean you are sad.

Goodbye
Ha det bra! (Ha de bra)

Goodbye (informal)
Hade! (Ha-de)

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It was nice seeing/meeting you. Goodbye.
Det var hyggelig å treffe deg. Ha det bra! (De var hygg-e-li å treff-e dei. Ha
de bra!)

I can't speak norwegian.


Jeg snakker ikke norsk. (Jei snakk-er ikk-e nåsjk)

I only know a little norwegian.


Jeg kan bare litt norsk. (Jei kan ba-re litt nåsjk)

Excuse me. Do you know how to speak English?


Unnskyld, kan du snakke engelsk? (Unn-skyll, kan du snakk-e eng-elsk?)

Is there someone here who speaks English?


Er det noen som kan engelsk her? (Ær de no-en såm kann snakk-e eng-elsk
hær?)

Help!
Hjelp! (Yelp!)

Good morning.
God morgen. (Go må-årn)

Good evening.
God kveld. (Go kvell)

Good night.
God natt. (Go natt)
*Note* Never used as a greeting, unless you you want to make a joke. This
is potentially troublesome. If you must greet someone at night, use Hallo,
Hei, Hyggelig å møte deg (Nice to meet you), or even God dag (even though
it's in the middle of night).

Good night (to sleep)


God natt. (Go natt)

I don't understand (you).


Jeg forstår [deg] ikke. (Jei forst-år [dei] ikk-e)

Where is the toilet/bathroom?


Hvor er toalettet? (Vor ær toa-lett-et?)

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 Problems

Leave me alone (please).


Kan du (være så snill å) la meg være alene.

Don't touch me!


Ikke rør meg!

I'll call the police.


Jeg ringer politiet
*Note* This really means dial the police on the phone. Since there aren't
many street cops in Norway, if it's really an emergency, it would make more
sense to simply cry Hjelp! (Help), and hope a random person will come to
your rescue.

Police!
Politi!

Stop! Thief!
Stopp tyven!

I need your help.


Jeg trenger din hjelp.
*Note* Might sound too strong. See below for a more reasonable
alternative.

May I ask you for a little assistance?


Kan jeg spørre deg om litt hjelp?

It's an emergency.
Det er et nødstilfelle.

I'm lost.
Jeg har gått meg bort.

Can you tell me where I am?


Kan du fortelle meg hvor jeg er?

Can you tell me the way to ___?


Kan du fortelle meg veien til ___?

I lost my ___.
Jeg har mistet ___ [min (sg. m./f.)/mitt (sg. neu.)/mine (pl.)].
*Note* While almost any kind of carry-on item can be called bag in English,
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in Norwegian it means a duffle bag. You usually have to be more specific,
here are a few alternatives, as part of this sentence, you should also read the
part in parenthesis to get the grammar right.

...luggage
baggasje(n)

...suitcase
koffert(en)

...backpack
ryggsekk(en)

...duffle bag
bag(en)

...shoulder bag
skulderveske(n)

...handbag
håndveske(n)

...plastic bag
plastikkpose(n)

...computer bag
computer bag(en)

...handbag
håndveske(n)

...wallet
lommebok(en)

...child/children
barn(et)/barn(a)

I'm sick.
Jeg er syk.

I've been injured.


Jeg har blitt skadet.

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I've contracted an injuriy.
Jeg har fått en skade.

I need a doctor.
Jeg trenger (å få treffe) en lege.

Can I use (your) phone?


Kan jeg få låne telefonen (din) litt?

 Numbers

0
null

1
en

2
to

3
tre

4
fire

5
fem

6
seks

7
sju, syv

8
åtte

9
ni

10
ti

12
11
elleve

12
tolv

13
tretten

14
fjorten

15
femten

16
seksten (seis-ten)

17
sytten (søtt-en)

18
atten

19
nitten

20
tjue (shoe-e)
*Note* Used in new counting system (see below).

20
tyve

21 & Above

Numbers larger than twenty can be written several ways in Norwegian.


Sometimes each word is written separately. Sometimes hyphens are used.
And sometimes, the whole number is written as one large word. There are
two ways of counting from 21-99.
New Counting System

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The new counting is what most people use nowadays. It is also probably
advisable for people not very familiar with Norwegian to learn this way
first.

21
tjue en (kju-e en)

22
tjue to

23
tjue tre

Old Counting System


The old counting system is slightly more illogical, but still quite a few
people use it. It's popularity increases with the age of the speaker. Most
people will probably revert to the new counting system if they realize the
speaker is not fluent in Norwegian, but here it is for completeness.

21
en og tyve (en å tyv-e)

22
to og tyve (to å tyv-e)

23
tre og tyve

Regardless of System
30
tretti

40
førti

50
femti

60
seksti

70

14
sytti

80
åtti

90
nitti

100
(ett) hundre

121
(ett) hundre og 21 (100 å 21)

200
to hundre

300
tre hundre

1000
ett tusen

1021
ett tusen og 21 (ett tu-sen å 21)

1100
ett tusen ett hundre (ett tu-sen ett hun-dre)

1121
ett tusen ett hundre og 21

2000
to-tusen

1000000
en million (en milli-on)

number _____ (train, bus, etc.)


nummer _____ (tog, buss, etc) (nomm-er)

half
halv (hall)

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less
mindre (minn-dre)

more
mer

 Time

now

later
senere

before
tidligere (tid-li-re)

morning
morgen (må-årn)

afternoon
ettermiddag

evening
kveld (kvell)

night
natt

Clock Time
It is worth noting that whenever you say 'one o'clock', you use 'ett' instead of
'en'.
24 Hour System
The simplest way to say time is to use the 24 hour system.

8.00
klokka åtte null null

19.37
klokka nitten tretti sju

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1.01
klokka ett null en

12 Hour System
There is no universal AM/PM usage in Norway. It can be hard to choose the
correct preposition/grammar to use for distinguishing between AM and PM
(which depends a lot on context, past, future, etc), so the easiest is to simply
add the time of day after having said the time.

10.00
klokka 10

10.05
fem over 10 (femm åv-er ti)

10.10
ti over 10

10.15
kvart over 10

10.20
ti på halv 11

10.25
fem på halv 11

10.30
halv 11 (hall 11)

10.35
fem over halv 11

10.40
ti over halv 11

10.45
kvart på 11

10.50
ti på 11

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10.55
fem på 11

Duration
_____ minute(s)
_____ minutt(er)

_____ hour(s)
_____ time(r)

_____ day(s)
_____ dag(er)

_____ week(s)
_____ uke(r)

_____ month(s)
_____ måned(er) (må-ned/månt-er)

_____ year(s)
_____ år

Days
today
i dag

yesterday
i går

tomorrow
i morgen (i må-årn)

this week
denne uka

last week
forrige uke (fårr-je u-ke)

next week
neste uke

Sunday

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Søndag

Monday
Mandag

Tuesday
Tirsdag

Wednesday
Onsdag

Thursday
Torsdag

Friday
Fredag

Saturday
Lørdag

Months
January
Januar

February
Februar

March
Mars

April
April

May
Mai

June
Juni

July
Juli

August

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August

September
September

October
Oktober

November
November

December
Desember

Writing Time & Date


Jan 5 1979
5 jan. 1979

Jan 5 1979
5/1-1979

 Colors

black
svart

black
sort
*Note* mostly archaic

white
hvit (vit)

gray
grå

red
rød (rø)

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blue
blå

yellow
gul

green
grønn

orange
orange (o-ransj)

purple
lilla

purple
fiolett

brown
brun

 Transportation

Bus & Train


How much is a ticket to _____?
Hvor mye koster en billett til _____?

One ticket to _____, please.


Kan jeg få en billett til _____.

Where does this train/bus go?


Hvor går dette toget/denne bussen?

Where is the train/bus to _____?


Hvor finner jeg toget/bussen til _____?

Does this train/bus stop in _____?


Stopper dette toget/denne bussen i _____?

When does the train/bus for _____ leave?


Når reiser toget/bussen til _____?

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When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
Når kommer vi fram til _____?
Directions
How do I get to _____ ?
Hvordan kommer jeg til _____ ?

...the train station?


...togstasjonen?

...the bus station?


...bussholdeplassen?

...the airport?
...flyplassen?

...downtown?
...sentrum?

...the youth hostel?


...ungdomsherberget?

...the _____ hotel?


... _____ hotel?

...the American/Canadian/Australian/British embassy/consulate?


...den amerikanske/kanadiske/australske/britiske ambassade/konsulat?

Where are there (a lot) of...


Hvor kan jeg finne (mange)...

...hotels?
...hoteller?

...restaurants?
...restauranter? (res-tu-rang-er)

...bars?
...barer?

...sites to see?
...turistattraksjoner? (tu-rist-att-rak-sjo-ner)

Can you show me ____ on the map?

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Kan du vise meg ___ på kartet?

street
gate/vei

Turn left.
Snu til venstre.

Turn right.
Snu til høyre.

left
venstre (venn-stre)

right
høyre (høy-re)

straight ahead
rett fram/rett framover

towards the _____


mot _____

past the _____


forbi _____

before the _____


rett før _____

Watch for the _____.


Se etter _____.

intersection
kryss

roundabout
rundkjøring (runn-kjø-ring)

north
nord

south
sør

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east
øst

west
vest

uphill
oppover(bakke) (åpp-åv-er-bakk-e)

downhill
nedover(bakke) (ned-åv-er-bakk-e)
Taxi
Taxi!
Taxi!
*Note* To get a taxi, either call one by phone, walk to a taxi stop, or wave
your hand if you see one (with a lighted roof-sign) driving past.

Take me to _____, please.


Kan du kjøre meg til _____.

How much does it cost to get to _____?


Hvor mye vil det koste å kjøre til _____?
*Note* Unless it's a really long (several hours) and thus ridiculously
expensive drive where you can make a special deal with the driver, it's
gonna cost as much as the meter shows. Expect an approximate reply if any.

Take me there, please.


Kan du kjøre meg dit?

 Lodging

Do you have any rooms available?


Har du noen ledige rom?

How much is a room for one person/two people?


Hvor mye koster et enkelt/dobbelt-rom?

Are bedsheets included in the price?


Er sengetøy inkludert i prisen?

I would like some bedsheets


Kan jeg få med sengetøy?

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Does the room come with...
Har rommet...

...a bathroom?
...eget bad?

...a telephone?
...egen telefon?

...a TV?
...TV? (te-ve)

May I see the room first?


Kan jeg få se rommet først?

Do you have anything _____?


Har du et _____ rom?

...quieter
...mer stille

...bigger
...større

...cleaner
...renere

...cheaper
...billigere?

OK, I'll take it.


OK, jeg tar det. (o-kå, jei tar de)

I will stay for _____ night(s).


Jeg blir her _____ natt/netter.

Can you suggest another hotel?


Har du et annet hotell å foreslå?

Do you have a safe?


Har du en safe? (har du en seif)

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Do you have a locker?
Har du ett låsbart skap?

Is breakfast/supper included?
Er frokost/middag inkludert?

What time is breakfast/supper?


Når er det frokost/middag?

Please clean my room.


Kan du vaske rommet mitt.

Can you wake me at _____?


Kan du vekke meg klokka _____?

I want to check out.


Kan jeg få sjekke ut nå?

 Money

Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?


Godtar du amerikanske/australske/kanadiske dollar?

Do you accept (British) pounds?


Godtar du (britiske) pund? (Go-tar du brit-isk-e punn)

Do you accept credit cards?


Godtar du kredittkort?

Can you change money for me?


Kan du hjelpe meg å veksle penger?

Where can I get money changed?


Hvor kan jeg få vekslet penger?

Can you change a traveler's check for me?


Kan du veksle en reisesjekk for meg?

Where can I get a traveler's check changed?


Hvor kan jeg få vekslet reisesjekker?

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What is the exchange rate for ___?
Hva er valutakursen for ___?

Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)


Hvor er nærmeste minibank?

 Eating

A table for one person/two people, please.


Kan jeg få et bord for en/to personer?

Can I look at the menu, please?


Kan jeg får se på menyen?

Can I look in the kitchen?


Kan jeg få se kjøkkenet?
*Note* This is usually a grave insult. If you feel that bad about eating there,
go somewhere else instead.

Is there a house specialty?


Hva er spesialiteten deres?

Is there a local specialty?


Er det en lokal rett jeg bør smake på?

I'm a vegetarian.
Jeg er vegetarianer.

I don't eat pork.


Jeg spiser ikke svin.

I'm on a diet. Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)


Jeg slanker meg. Kan jeg få så lite fett som mulig? (mindre olje/smør/fett)

fixed-price meal
dagens rett

a la carté
a la carté

breakfast
frokost

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lunch
lunch

tea (meal)
kaffe og kaker
*Note* This literally means 'coffee and cakes' in Norwegian. You could of
course still order tea, if you prefer that.

supper
middag

I would like _____.


Kan jeg få _____.

I want a dish containing _____.


Jeg vil ha en rett med _____.

chicken
kylling (kjyll-ing)

beef
oksekjøtt

fish
fisk

ham
skinke

sausage
pølse

cheese
ost

eggs
egg

salad
salat

(fresh) vegetables
(ferske) grønnsaker

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(fresh) fruit
(fersk) frukt

bread
brød

toast
ristet brød

noodles
nudler

rice
ris

beans
bønner

May I have a glass of _____?


Kan jeg få et glass _____?

May I have a cup of _____?


Kan jeg få en kopp _____?

May I have a bottle of _____?


Kan jeg få en flaske _____?

coffee
kaffe

tea (drink)
te

juice
juice (jus)

(bubbly) water
farris

water
vann

beer
øl

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red/white wine
rødvin/hvitvin (rø-vin/vit-vin)

May I have some _____?


Kan jeg få litt _____?

salt
salt

(black) pepper
(sort) pepper

butter
smør

Excuse me, waiter?


Unnskyld, kelner?

I'm finished.
Jeg er ferdig.

It was delicious.
Det smakte utmerket.

Please clear the plates.


Kan du ta med tallerknene.

The check, please.


Kan jeg få regningen?

 Bars

Do you serve alcohol?


Serverer dere alkohol?

Is there table service?


Kommer dere til bordene?

A beer/two beers, please.


Kan jeg få en/to øl?

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A glass of red/white wine, please.
Kan jeg få et/to glass rødvin/hvitvin?

A pint, please.
Kan jeg få en halvliter? (hall-i-ter)

In a bottle, please.
Kan jeg få det på flaske?

_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.


Kan jeg få _____ og _____?

whiskey
whiskey

vodka
vodka

rum
rom (romm)

water
vann

club soda
club soda

tonic water
tonic

orange juice
appelsin juice (app-el-sin jus)

Coke (soda)
Cola (brus)

Do you have any bar snacks?


Har du noe bar snacks?

One more, please.


Kan jeg få en til?

Another round, please.


En runde til!

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When is closing time?
Når stenger dere?

 Shopping

Do you have this in my size?


Har du denne i min størrelse?

How much is this?


Hvor mye koster den?

That's too expensive.


Det er for dyrt.

Would you take _____?


Ville du godtatt _____?
*Note* Bargaining of this type is going to get you nothing but puzzled looks
and make people suspicious of you in Norway. It costs how much the
price-tag says, unless the goods are damaged, or in some other way deserve
a lower price. Trades involving insurance, cars, volume rebates, hotels in the
off-season, and a few other things might be exceptions.

expensive
dyrt

cheap
billig

I can't afford it.


Jeg har desverre ikke råd.

I don't want it.


Nei, jeg trenger den ikke.

(I think) You're cheating me.


(Jeg tror) Du lurer meg.
*Note* It may not be wise to tell someone this, unless you are quite
confident it's true. Even then, I think it would be better to consult a native
third-party before you start throwing allegetions around.

I'm not interested.


Desverre, jeg er ikke interresert.

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OK, I'll take it.
OK, jeg tar den.

Can I have a bag?


Kan jeg få en pose?

Do you ship to ____?


Kan du sende ting til ___?

I need...
Jeg trenger...

...toothpaste.
...tannpasta.

...a toothbrush.
...en tannbørste. (tann-bøsj-te)

...tampons.
...tamponger.

...soap.
...såpe.

...shampoo.
...shampoo. (sjam-po)

...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)


...smertestillende. (f.eks Dispril eller Ibux)

...cold medicine.
...hostesaft.
*Note* This translates as 'cough lemonade'. If that doesn't come close to
what you need, go to a doctor.

...a razor.
...en barberhøvel.

...an umbrella.
...en paraply.

...sunscreen lotion.
...solkrem.

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...sunblock lotion.
...sunblock.

...a postcard.
...ett postkort.

...postage stamps.
...frimerker.

...batteries.
...batterier.

...writing paper.
...skrivepapir/brevpapir.

...a pen.
...en penn.

...English-language books.
...engelske bøker.

...English-language magazines.
...engelske blader.

...an English-language newspaper.


...en engelsk avis.

...an English-Norwegian dictionary.


...en engelsk-norsk ordbok.

 Driving

I want to rent a car.


Kan jeg få leie en bil?

Can I get insurance?


Kan jeg få forsikring?

stop (on a street sign)


stop

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one way
enveiskjørt/enveiskjøring

yield
vikeplikt

no parking
parkering forbudt

speed limit
fartsgrense

gas/petrol station
bensinstasjon

gas/petrol
bensin

diesel
diesel

 Authority

haven't done anything wrong.


Jeg har ikke gjort noe galt.

It was a misunderstanding.
Det var en misforståelse.

Where are you taking me?


Hvor tar dere meg?

Am I under arrest?
Er jeg arrestert?

I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
Jeg er en amerikansk/australsk/britisk/kanadisk statsborger.

I demand to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian


embassy/consulate.
Jeg forlanger å få snakke med den
amerikanske/australske/britiske/kanadiske ambassade/konsulat.

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I want to talk to a lawyer.
Jeg vil ha en advokat.

Can I just pay a fine now?


Kan jeg bare betale boten nå?
*Note* Usually you can't. That would mean bribery is accepted. One
exception: public transportation in Oslo (maybe elsewhere too) if you forgot
to buy a ticket.

CHAPTER III Norwegian languages

 Overview

Norwegian is a Germanic language spoken in Norway. Norwegian is


closely related to, and generally mutually intelligible with Swedish and
Danish. Together with these two languages as well as Faroese and Icelandic,
Norwegian belongs to the North Germanic languages, (also called
Scandinavian languages). Native speakers of Norwegian are, for the most
part, quite proficient in understanding Danish and Swedish, in spoken as
well as written form. 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.

As established by law and governmental policy, there are currently two


official forms of written Norwegian – Bokmål (literally "book language")
and Nynorsk (literally "new Norwegian"). The Norwegian Language
Council recommends the terms "Norwegian Bokmål" and "Norwegian
Nynorsk" in English, but these are seldom used. The language question in
Norway has been subject to much controversy during the past generations.
Though not reflective of the political landscape in general, written
Norwegian is often described as a spectrum ranging from the conservative to
the radical. This is because successive spelling reforms have resulted in an
increased number of optional forms in spelling and grammar, allowing for
greater possibility of combining elements from both written forms,
particularly in the Bokmål variant. The current forms of Bokmål and
Nynorsk are considered moderate forms of conservative and radical versions
of written Norwegian, respectively.

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The unofficial written form known as Riksmål is considered more
conservative than Bokmål, and the unofficial Høgnorsk more conservative
than Nynorsk. Those forms became popular among enthusiastic
conservative people due to the reforms in the 1920s and 30s when the two
official languages were brought closer together. Although Norwegians are
educated in both Bokmål and Nynorsk, around 86-90% use Bokmål as their
daily written language, and 10%-12% use Nynorsk, although many of the
spoken dialects resemble Nynorsk more closely than Bokmål, mostly in
terms of vocabulary and accent. Broadly speaking, Bokmål and Riksmål are
more commonly seen in urban and suburban areas; Nynorsk in rural areas,
particularly in Western Norway. The Norwegian broadcasting corporation
(NRK) 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, Nynorsk in 8% (2000). According to the
Norwegian Language Council, "It may be reasonably realistic to assume that
about 10-12% use Nynorsk, i.e. somewhat less than half a million people."
In spite of concern that Norwegian dialects would eventually give way to a
common spoken Norwegian language close to Bokmål, dialects find
significant support in local environments, popular opinion, and public
policy.

 Dialects

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; but there is renewed interest
in preserving distinct dialects.

Examples:

Below are a few sentences giving an indication of the differences between


Bokmål and Nynorsk, compared to the conservative (nearer to Danish) form
Riksmål, and to Danish itself:

B=Bokmål
R=Riksmål
D=Danish
N=Nynorsk

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H=Høgnorsk
E=English

B/R/D: Jeg kommer fra Norge


N/H: Eg kjem frå Noreg.
E: I come from Norway.

B/R: Hva heter han?


D: Hvad hedder han?
N/H: Kva heiter han?
E: What is he called?

B/R/D: Dette er en hest.


N/H: Dette er ein hest.
E: This is a horse.

B: Regnbuen har mange farger.


R/D: Regnbuen har mange farver.
N: Regnbogen har mange fargar.
H: Regnbogen hev mange fargar. (Or better: Regnbogen er manglíta).
E: The rainbow has many colours.

 Grammar

The number of grammatical genders in Norwegian is somewhat disputed,


but the official view is that Norwegian nouns fall into three genders:
masculine, feminine and neuter. The inflection of the nouns depends on the
gender.

Bokmål

en gutt gutten gutter guttene


m.:
(a boy) (the boy) (boys) (the boys)
en/ei dr dren/dra drer drene
f.:
(a door) (the door) (doors) (the doors)
et hus huset hus husene/husa
n.:
(a house) (the house) (houses) (the houses)

Note that feminine nouns can be inflected like masculine nouns in Bokmål.
Riksmål rejects the feminine gender and merges it with the masculine into a
common gender (utrum), like in Danish.

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Nynorsk

ein gut guten gutar gutane


m.:
(a boy) (the boy) (boys) (the boys)
ei sol sola/soli soler solene
(a sun) (the sun) (suns) (the suns)
f.: ei kyrkje/ kyrkjer/ kyrkjene/
kyrkja
kyrkja kyrkjor kyrkjone
(a church) (the church) (churches) (the churches)
eit hus huset hus husa/husi
n.:
(a house) (the house) (houses) (the houses)

 History

The languages now spoken in Scandinavia developed from the Old Norse
language, which did not differ greatly between what are now Danish,
Norwegian, and Swedish areas. In fact, Viking traders spread the language
across Europe and into Russia, making Old Norse one of the most
widespread languages for a time. According to tradition, King Harald
Fairhair united Norway in 872. Around this time, a runic alphabet was used.
According to writings found on stone tablets from this period of history, the
language showed remarkably little deviation between different regions.
Runes had been in limited use since at least the 3rd century. Around 1030,
Christianity came to Norway, bringing with it the Latin alphabet. Norwegian
manuscripts in the new alphabet began to appear about a century later. The
Norwegian language began to deviate from its neighbors around this time as
well.

Viking explorers had begun to settle Iceland in the 9th century, carrying
with them the Old Norse language. Over time, Old Norse developed into
"Western" and "Eastern" variants. Western Norse covered Iceland and
Norway, while Eastern Norse developed in Denmark and Sweden. The
languages of Iceland and Norway remained very similar until about the year
1300, when they became what are now known as Old Icelandic and Old
Norwegian. In 1397, Norway entered a personal union with Denmark, which
came to be the dominating part, and Danish was eventually used as
Norway's written language. Danish, a language since medieval times mostly
influenced by Low German, came to be the primary language of the
Norwegian elite, although adoption was slower among the commoners. The
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union lasted more than 400 years, until 1814 when Norway became
independent of Denmark, but was forced to enter a personal union with
Sweden. Norwegians began to push for true independence by embracing
democracy and attempting to enforce the constitutional declaration of being
a sovereign state. Part of this nationalist movement was directed to the
development of an independent Norwegian language. Two major paths were
available: modify the elite's Danish, or attempt to undo centuries of foreign
rule and work with the commoners' Norwegian. Both approaches were
attempted.

From Danish to Norwegian

In the 1840s, many writers began to "Norwegianize" Danish by


incorporating words that were descriptive of Norwegian scenery and folk
life. Spelling and grammar were also modified. This was adopted by the
Norwegian parliament as Riksmål, or "Standard Language" in 1899.

However, a nationalistic movement strove for the development of a new


written Norwegian. Ivar Aasen, a self-taught linguist, began his work to
create a new Norwegian language at the age of 22. He traveled around the
country, comparing the dialects in different regions, and examined the
development of Icelandic, which had largely escaped the influences
Norwegian had come under. He called his work, which was published in
several books from 1848 to 1873, Landsmål, or "National Language".

After the personal union with Sweden was dissolved, both languages were
developed further. Riksmål was in 1929 officially renamed Bokmål (literally
"Book language"), and Landsmål to Nynorsk (literally "New Norwegian")
— the names Dano-Norwegian and Norwegian lost in parliament by one
single vote, as the Danish label was (and still is) very unpopular among
Bokmål users.

Bokmål and Nynorsk were made closer by reforms in 1917, 1938 and 1959.
This was a result of a state policy to merge Nynorsk and Bokmål into one
language, called Samnorsk (Common Norwegian). 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 50's, fighting in particular the use of
"radical" forms in Bokmål text books in schools. The Samnorsk policy had
little influence after 1960, and was officially abandoned in 2002. Users of
either written language resented the efforts to dilute the distinctness of their
written language in general and spelling in particular. Over the years, the
standards for Bokmål have increasingly accommodated Riksmål forms. As a

40
result, some people prefer to follow a more traditional way of spelling of
Nynorsk, called Høgnorsk.

 Vocabulary

Compound words are written together in Norwegian (see Nominal


compositum), which can cause words to become very long, for example
sannsynlighetsmaksimeringsestimator (maximum likelihood estimator).
Another example is the title høyesterettsjustitiarius (originally put together
of supreme court and the actual title, justitiarius). However, because of the
increasing influence the English language is having on Norwegian, and
inadequate computer spell checkers, this is often forgotten, sometimes with
humorous results. Instead of writing for example lammekoteletter (lamb
chops), people make the mistake of writing lamme koteletter (paralyzed, or
lame, chops). The original message can even be reversed, as when røykfritt
(smoke-free) 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 ("Pieces of tuna",
noun)
~ Smult ringer ("Lard calls", verb) instead of Smultringer ("Doughnuts")
~ Tyveri sikret ("Theft guaranteed") instead of Tyverisikret ("Theft proof")

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 (spell checker) 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.)

 Wrriten language

The Alphabet

The Norwegian alphabet is as follows:

41
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 (29
letters)

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzæøå

Bokmål and Nynorsk

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 through the years, and much work lies ahead.

Both Nynorsk and Bokmål have a great variety of optional forms,


particularly Bokmål. 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

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 today comparable
to Commonwealth English vs American English.

Riksmål is regulated by the Norwegian Academy, which determines


acceptable spelling, grammar, and vocabulary.

Høgnorsk
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
42
About 85.3% of the pupils in the primary and lower secondary schools in
Norway receive education in Bokmål, while about 14.5% receive education
in Nynorsk. From the eighth grade onwards pupils are required to learn both.
Out of the 433 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
Norwegian publications in 2000 8% were in Nynorsk, and 92% in
Bokmål/Riksmål. The large national newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet
and VG) are published in Bokmål/Riksmål. Some major regional
newspapers (including Bergens Tidende and Stavanger Aftenblad), many
political journals, and many local newspapers use both Bokmål and
Nynorsk.

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