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Norwegian is the language spoken in Norway. It's closely related to Danish and Swedish, and most speakers of the three languages can understand each other without much difficulty. Most of Norway's 4.5 million citizens speak Norwegian.
There are two official variations of written Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk. The differences are small, but important to a lot of Norwegians. Bokmål is by far the most common, and evolved from Danish. Nynorsk is a reconstructed standard written form, devleoped by Ivar Aasen, a teacher and linguist. Aasen traveled through most of the country, except for the eastern parts, because he felt those parts had been too heavily influenced by Danish language. Between 1848 and 1855, Aasen published a grammar, lexicon, dialect samples, and a set of readings as he devleoped Nynosk (called then landsmål) A summary of the language situation can be found at: http://odin.dep.no/odin/engelsk/norway/history/032005-990497/index-dok000-b-n-a.html
In 2003, approximately 15% of primary school pupils were in school districts that taught Nynorsk as the primary written standard.
There are also many spoken variations (dialects) of Norwegian, and even to Norwegians, some of them can be really hard to understand if you are not used to them. Because of radio, TV, and other mass communication, the situation is normalizing towards a language more similar to how it is written (Bokmål or Nynorsk).
Norwegian spelling is pretty simple and regular (compared to, say, English), but like most real languages, unfortunately not completely regular.
Each vowel can be pronounced either as "long" or "short". A "short" vowel will almost 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 it.
(There are some exceptions to this rule: if the consonant is followed by another consonant, it does not always need to be doubled to make the vowel short.)
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). Here's the full list:
like 'a' in "father"
like 'e' in "where" (but like æ if it is followed by a double consonant)
like 'i' in "pin"
like o in how the British say "lord"
like 'oo' in "spooky"
like 'oo' in "foot"
like 'i' in "pin" (but darker; y doesn't correspond to any sound in English. English speakers may have difficulty distinguishing Norwegian's i and y. It's similar to German ü or French u.) One starts with making the "o" sound with one's lips but saying the "ee" sound in "steel".
like 'a' in "hat"
like 'u' in how the British say "burn". One starts with e and rounds one's lips to produce ø.
like 'o' in how the British say "lord"
like 'b' in "book"
like 'c' in "cat" (mostly foreign words)
like 'd' in "dog", silent at end of syllable or at end of word.
like 'f' in "face"
like 'g' in "good", but like 'y' in "yes" before i or j, silent at the end of some words
like 'h' in "hat", silent before j or v
like 'y' in "yes"
like 'k' in "keep", but like 'ch' in German "ich" before i or j (IPA Template:IPA)
like 'l' in "late"
like 'm' in "mouse"
like 'n' in "nice"
like 'p' in "push"
like 'q' in "quick" (mostly foreign words)
like 'r' in "feather" (very soft, as in German) (many different variations ranging from Spanish to French sounding.)
like 's' in "sun" (not like 'z' in "zap")
like 't' in "top", silent at the end of some words
like 'v' in "viper"
like 'w' in "water" (mostly foreign words)
like 'x' in "box" (mostly foreign words), generally spelled with ks
like 'z' in "zipper" (officially), but usually pronounced like 's' in "sun" (mostly foreign words)
Diphthongs and two letter combinations
like 'a' in "babe" (æ-i)
like 'i' in "pine" (a-i)
like 'ou' in "mouse" (a-u), or like 'o' in "so" (æ-u)
like 'oy' in "boy" (å-y)
like 'ooey' in "gooey" (ø-y)
like 'sh' in "shirt"
like 'sh' in "shirt"
like 'ch' in "change"
like 'y' in "yes"
like 'v' in "victory"
like 'y' in "yes" (rare)
(the bokmål word, meaning "they") : like "dee" in "deer" (just as a whole word)
(the bokmål word, meaning "I") : like "Ya" in "Yale" or "yay"
(the bokmål and nynorsk word for "and") : like 'o' in "lord" (just as a whole word)
God morgen. (goh moh-ohrn) - God morgon. ("Go' Morgon")
God kveld. (goh kvel)
Good night (to sleep)
God natt. (goh naht)
How are you?
Hvordan går det? (vohrd-ahn gohr deh?) Korleis går det? ("kor-leis gohr deh')
Fine, thank you.
(Jo) takk, bare bra. (yoh tak, barae brah) (Jau) takk, berre bra ("Jauh tak, bere brah")
What is your name?
Hva heter du? (Vah he-ter du) Kva heiter du? ("Kvah hei-ter du")
Hyggelig å treffe deg. (Hygg-e-li å treff-e dei) Hyggjeleg å møte deg ("Hyggj-eleg å mø-te deg")
Vær så snill. (...)
Tusen takk. (...)
Bare hyggelig. (Bar-e hygg-e-li) More like the english: my pleasure Berre hyggjeleg ("ber-e hyg-eleg")
Yes (in reply/opposition to a no in a discussion).
Jo. (yo) Jau. ("Ja-u")
Excuse me. (getting attention)
Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-shill mei) Orsak meg ("Or-sak meg")
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
Unnskyld (meg). (Unn-shill mei) Orsak meg ("Or-sak meg")
I'm sorry. (for a slight mistake)
Beklager (be-klag-er) Beklagar ("Be-kla-gar")
I'm sorry. (I really didn't mean it)
Jeg beklager så mye (Jei be-klag-er så mye) Eg er lei for det ("Eg er leih for det")
Jeg er lei meg. (Jei ær lei mei) Not used nearly as often as in english, this sincerely means you are sorry, or can even be interpreted to mean you are sad (usually not associated with guilt). Eg er lei meg ("Eg er leih megh")
Ha det bra! (Ha de bra) Farvel ("far-vel")
It was nice seeing/meeting you. Goodbye.
Det var hyggelig/hyggjeleg å treffe deg. Ha det bra! (De var hygg-e-li å treff-e dei. Ha de bra!)
Jeg/eg kan bare/berre 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/nokon som kan snakke engelsk her? (Ær de no-en såm kann snakk-e eng-elsk hær?)
God morgen/morgon. (Go må-årn) See hello above
God kveld. (Go kvell) See hello above
God natt. (Go natt) 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, or Hyggelig å møte deg (Nice to meet you), or even God dag (even though it's in the middle of night).
Kunne jeg/eg låne pennen din? (Kuhn-ne jæi lå-ne pennen din?)
Are there any good sights in the area?
Finnes/Finnst det noen/nokon gode severdigheter/severdegheitar i området? (Fin-nes deh non god-he seværdi-het-er i åm-råde)
You are not Norwegian unless you know five names for different textures of snow
Man/Ein er ikke/ikkje norsk med mindre man/ein kan navngi/namngje fem typer snø. (Mann ær ikke nåshk me mindre mann kann navnji femm typ-er snø)
Are they joking about these prizes?
Skal jeg/eg tolke disse/dei her prisene/prisane som en/en spøk? (Skall jei tålke dis-se pris-ene såmm en spøk)
Where can I purchase a viking helmet?
Hvor/Kvar kan jeg/eg kjøpe en/ein vikinghjelm? (Vohr kann jei ch[german: Chemie]ø-pe en vi-kingjelm)
Leave me alone (please).
Kan du (være så snill å) la meg være alene. (...) Note: være så snill å means be so kind as to, directly translated, but there are no direct replacement for please. The english word is sometimes used if said imparatively or beggingly.
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.
Politi! (...) See above...
Stopp tyven! (...)
I need your help.
Jeg trenger din hjelp. (...) 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. (...)
Jeg har gått meg bort. (...) Even though this is under the problems section, this phrase comes out sounding like you have wandered the woods for days without food or rest, having no idea where you are or where to go (in which case it would be obvious anyway). Either that, or you're 5 year old, in which case getting lost from your parents is equally serious. See below for a more reasonable alternative. More neutral is "Jeg har gått meg vill"
Can you tell me where I am?
Kan du si meg hvor jeg er? (...)
Can you tell me the way to ___?
Kan du si meg veien til ___? (...)
I lost my ___.
Jeg har mistet ___ [min (sg. m./f.)/mitt (sg. neu.)/mine (pl.)]. (...) While almost any kind of carry-on item can be called bag in English, 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.
sju (...) Another variant (below) also in common use. New system
syv (...) Another variant (above) is slightly more common in some age groups and geographical regions. Old system
tjue (kju-e) Note: Used in new counting system (see below)
tyve (...) Note: Used in old counting system (see below)
21 and on
Larger numbers 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
The new counting is what most people use nowadays. And probably what they would consider using to someone having problems understanding. This is what you should learn.
tjue en (kju-e en)
tjue to (...)
tjue tre (...)
Old counting system
The old counting system is slightly more illogical, but still quite a few people use it. Its 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 (In English this system has been used in the past, but a change analogous to the new system in Norwegian occurred a long time ago, so few realise this now, although the reminders exist in the teen numbers and the Four and twenty blackbirds nursery rhyme).
en og tyve (en å tyv-e)
to og tyve (to å tyv-e)
tre og tyve (...)
tredve (old system)
tretti (...) (new system)
Regardless of counting system
(ett) hundre (...)
(ett) hundre og 21 (100 å 21)
to hundre (...)
tre hundre (...)
ett tusen (...)
ett tusen og 21 (ett tu-sen å 21)
ett tusen ett hundre (ett tu-sen ett hun-dre)
ett tusen ett hundre og 21 (...)
en million (en milli-on)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
nummer _____ (tog, buss, etc) (nomm-er)
Note that whenever you say one o'clock, you use ett instead of en.
The simplest way to say time is to use the 24 hour system.
klokka åtte null null (...)
klokka nitten tretti sju (..)
klokka ett null en (...)
12 hour system
There is no universal AM/PM usage in norway. If people are not familiar enough with english to understand you saying the time in english, they will probably not understand AM or PM either. To disambiguate time, you can look at the section called Time (morning, evening, etc). It can be hard to choose the correct preposition/grammar to use for these (which depends a lot on context, past, future, etc), so the easiest is to simply append it after having said the time.
The clock-hour can be divided as follows
klokka 10 (...)
fem over 10 (femm åv-er ti)
ti over 10 (...)
kvart over 10 (...)
ti på halv 11 (...)
fem på halv 11 (...)
halv 11 (hall 11)
fem over halv 11 (...)
ti over halv 11 (...)
kvart på 11 (...)
ti på 11 (...)
fem på 11 (...)
_____ minutt(er) (...)
_____ time(r) (...)
_____ dag(er) (...)
_____ uke(r) (...)
_____ måned(er) (må-ned/månt-er)
_____ år (...)
i dag (...)
i går (...)
i morgen (i må-årn)
denne uka (...)
forrige uke (fårr-je u-ke)
neste uke (...)
søndag (...) (The week begins on a Monday in Norway, and days are not capitalised)
Taxi! (...) Cultural note: Shouting or whistling for a taxi is considered rude in Norway, and drivers are likely to ignore you if you do. Wave your hand at, phone or simply walk up to one with a lighted sign on the roof.
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? (...)
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? (...)
I don't need/I bring my own bedsheets
Jeg trenger ikke/Jeg har mitt eget sengetøy (...)
Does the room come with...
Har rommet ... (...)
...eget bad? (...)
...egen telefon? (...)
May I see the room first?
Kan jeg få se rommet først? (...)
Do you have anything _____?
Har du et _____ rom? (...)
...mer stille (...)
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)
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?. (...)
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? (...)
What is the exchange rate for ___?
Hva er valutakursen for ___? (...)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
Hvor er nærmeste minibank? (...) ATM = minibank
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? (...)
Jeg er glutenintolerant / Jeg har cøliaki (...)
I'm a vegetarian.
Jeg er vegetarianer. (...)
I don't eat pork.
Jeg spiser ikke svinekjøtt. (...)
I only eat kosher food.
If this is a concern, try another country. Shechita is forbidden in Norway, and meat needs to be specially imported. Try to order fresh fish ("fersk fisk") or something vegetarian instead. Tell the waiter you are an orthodox jew ("ortodoks jøde"), and try to reach an understanding. You will have to compromise, as you can't expect the cook to keep a separate set of pans/knives/etc just for you. If it is a large expensive restaurant, they might be able to do so, but if you are very pedantic about this, you should prepare your own food from carefully selected food in grocery shops.
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) (...)
dagens rett (...)
a la carté
a la carté (...)
kaffe og kaker (...) Note: I believe the norwegian equivalent would be coffee and cakes. You could of course still order tea, if you prefer that.
I would like _____.
Kan jeg få _____. (...)
I want a dish containing _____.
Jeg vil ha en rett med _____. (...)
(ferske) grønnsaker (...)
(fersk) frukt (...)
ristet brød (...)
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 _____? (...)
May I have some _____?
Kan jeg få litt _____? (...)
(sort) pepper (...)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
Unnskyld, kelner? (...)
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?. (...)
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? (...)
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 _____? (...)
club soda (...)
appelsin juice (app-el-sin jus)
Cola (brus) (...)
Do you have any bar snacks?
Har du noe barsnacks? (...)
One more, please.
Kan jeg få en til?. (...)
Another round, please.
En runde til! (...)
When is closing time?
Når stenger dere? (...)
Do you have this in my size?
Har du denne i min størrelse? (...)
How much is this(that)?
Hvor mye koster denne(den)? (...)
That's too expensive.
Det er for dyrt. (...)
Would you take _____?
Ville du godtatt _____? (...) Note: Bargaining or haggling prices will in most cases get you nothing but puzzled looks and/or angry vendors. The price is on the tag, and unless the item you want is damaged or highly overpriced (higher than usual in Norway) haggling will usually not get you anywhere.
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. (...) I would strongly advice against telling anyone 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. (..)
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 ___? (...)
Jeg trenger... (...)
...en tannbørste. (tann-bøsj-te)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...smertestillende. (f.eks Dispril eller Ibux) (...)
...hostesaft. (...) translates back to cough lemonade. If that doesn't come close to what you need, go to a doctor.
...???. (...) Go to a drugstore (norwegian: "apotek"), or doctor (norwegian: "lege"), and explain your condition.
...en barberhøvel. (...)
...en paraply. (...)
...ett postkort. (...)
...en penn. (...)
...engelske bøker. (...)
...engelske blader. (...)
...an English-language newspaper.
...en engelsk avis. (...)
...an English-Norwegian dictionary.
...en engelsk-norsk ordbok. (...)
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)
parkering forbudt (...)
gas (petrol) station
I 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 (...)
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 was accepted. One exception; public transportation in Oslo (maybe elsewhere too) if you forgot to buy a ticket.