Test Driving Languages – Norwegian

320px-Flag_of_Norway.svgMy next test drive is the Norwegian language. It’s the language of my maternal grandmother’s family, so I have a great interest in learning the language. It’s said to be pretty easy for an English speaker to learn, as it’s similar to English, but has easier grammar. It’s a Germanic language, and shares a lot with Swedish and Danish.

Jeg er en mann.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

It uses the Roman alphabet, so is pretty straightforward. However, it also has Æ, Ø, and Å. Other than that, easy.

Pronunciation

It takes a little getting used to, but once that’s done, it’s not difficult. There are a lot of silent Ts and Ds, though. And some sounds don’t look anything like the letters that are used (from an English point of view). But the pronunciation rules are strict, unlike English.

Grammar

Not very different than English. However, the nouns have gender. But the good thing is, it’s optional! You can use the masculine form all you like, though there are some exceptions where the feminine form is used. Verb conjugation is incredibly easy. There’s no variation in the verb at all. For example, “be”/”is”/”are” is always “er” in Norwegian. The indefinite article, “en” becomes definite when added to the nouns as a suffix. So, “en mann (a man)” becomes “mannen (the man)” and so on. There are exceptions, though.

Overall Impression

I was a bit worried looking at the words. I didn’t really recognise many. I wasn’t sure how different it was from English. However, after doing six lessons, I’ve found it relatively easy to learn. I retained the words pretty well, understood the grammar easily, and made few mistakes. The only difficulty is the listening. I wasn’t used to the pronunciation. That’s where my mistakes were. So, I’m definitely looking forward to learning Norwegian. Looks fun!

Are you interested in Norwegian? Let me know in the comments below.

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16 thoughts on “Test Driving Languages – Norwegian”

  1. I’ve never had much interest in Norwegian, but I’ve always wondered how those vowels are pronounced. Interesting that the noun genders are optional–I’m sure it’ll mark you out as a beginner if you don’t use them, but hey, that’s going to happen anyway. But it’s nice that the verb conjugation is so simple. A few exceptions beats a complicated always, I think. Good luck!

  2. I’ve never thought about Norwegian, but I am now! A few years ago, I was attempting to teach myself Latin and German, as they are my two favorite languages to sing in (in that order) but time was not my friend. I still want to do it eventually. I had no idea Norwegian was fairly easy to learn for native English speakers. My husband has family that hails from Norway 🙂

    1. I’ve heard that the Scandinavian languages are all quite similar and easy to learn for English speakers. Norwegian and Swedish are especially close to each other, while Danish is pretty similar, too. And then I’ve heard the closest and easiest language for English speakers to learn is Dutch. I’m going to be trying out all of those languages.

        1. Yeah, they’re all Germanic. I know that Old English is also known as Anglo-Saxon, with Saxony being a part of Germany now. Ever read Old English? It’s nearly incomprehensible. It’s like a foreign language. Thanks to the Norman invasion of 1066, French became the official language of the upper class in England, and many words altered English into what would be Middle English. And Shakespeare is early Modern English. That’s still difficult to understand.

  3. I started learning Norwegian a few months ago, and I have to say it’s really fun and relatively easy. If you ever want to practice reading klartale.no is a news website that uses easy-to-understand Norwegian . TV 2 Skole is also a great resource for listening. It’s on youtube. Good luck with your language learning!

  4. The genders actually aren’t optional. For feminine words, you can often choose between the masculine and the feminine conjugation, but never the neuter. Masculine and neuter words have to have the masculine and neuter conjugation respectively.

    For instance, “woman” is “kvinne”. You can choose whether to say “kvinna”, which is feminine, or “kvinnen” which is masculine. While either is technically correct, there is a definite preference for feminine conjugations of feminine words in many dialects. Using masculine conjugations of feminine words often comes across as very formal and old-fashioned.

    The definite conjugation of “man” is always “mannen”. You can’t say “manna” or “mannet”. The same goes for neuter gender. The definite singular form of “tre” (meaning “tree”) is always “treet”, never “trea” or “treen”.

  5. I am currently learning Norwegian right now. I think as long as you can pronounce their alphabet correctly everything else is easier.

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