Are you traveling to Norway soon? Then take a look at these common Norwegian words and phrases!
If you’re an English speaker heading to Norway for the first time, you have nothing to worry about. Most Norwegians can speak some English (we learn English in school from the 1st grade) and tourism information is usually available in English as well as a few other languages.
I do, however, always like to look up a few words before I travel to a new country. Knowing how to say the most common words like hello, please and thank you will get you a long way with the locals. So even if it’s just to flatter us with an attempt at speaking Norwegian, here are some words and phrases for you to learn before you go!
The Norwegian Language
Norwegian, along with Swedish, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese, is a North Germanic language. Written Norwegian is virtually identical to Danish and some Norwegian and Swedish dialects are very close. Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes can understand each other, but it’s not always as easy as one would think.
I once met a Swedish guy at a hostel in Byron Bay and in my mind we talked exactly the same. But he could not for the life of him understand what I was saying, even when I talked super slow. So I had to change to English while he spoke to me in Swedish. So I guess most Norwegians understand Swedish very easily but not always the other way around. We grew up watching a lot of Swedish tv-shows so that might have something to do with it.
Danish is a little harder for me to understand, even though my boyfriend is 75% Danish. They often talk very fast and don’t pronounce words clearly like I’m used to in Norwegian. Some dialects are fine but some I can’t understand at all. So last time I was on a press trip to Denmark I had a hard time keeping up with the conversation in Danish. Which I found very embarrassing because it seemed like they could all understand me. And as far as I know, it’s even harder for Swedes and Danes to understand each other.
Today there are two official forms of written Norwegian, Bokmål (which literally translates to “book tongue”) and Nynorsk (new Norwegian), each with its own dialects and variants. About 12% of the population use Nynorsk and for the rest of us, Nynorsk is a mandatory subject in school. I still can’t understand why as learning two different forms of a language that are so similar seems incredibly unnecessary. But anyway, the words and phrases in this article are written in Bokmål.
Æ – the a sound in mad
Ø – the i sound in bird
Å – the a sound in ball
ei – is pronounced like æj – Norwegian example: hei
ai – aj – Norwegian example: hai
øy – øj – Norwegian example: tøy
au – æv – Norwegian example: sau
Words & phrases
Politeness is a very important trait to us Norwegians, although we are polite in an informal way. We greet people with just a simple hi or hello and we call everyone by their first name. You don’t need to say how are you unless you actually know the person and want to know how they are. And remember to smile, be patient and always say thank you!
|Thank you very much||Tusen takk (thousand thanks)|
|You’re welcome||Vær så god|
|Please||Vær så snill (be so kind)|
|Excuse me||Unnskyld meg|
|My name is||Jeg heter/Mitt navn er (formal)|
|I don’t speak Norwegian||Jeg snakker ikke norsk|
|Cheers! (for drinking)||Skål!|
Travel & transportation
|Where is …?||Hvor er …?|
|Where’s the nearest bus stop?||Hvor er nærmeste busstopp|
|One ticket to …, please||En billett til …, takk|
|How much does a ticket to … cost?||Hvor mye koster en billett til …?|
|I’m lost||Jeg har gått meg bort|