If you are planning a trip to Norway soon, or any Scandinavian country, learning Norwegian vocabulary is vital to help you get around town and immerse yourself in the culture. Learning Norwegian can also be helpful for making new business connections and even learning other Scandinavian languages! Both Swedish and Danish are similar to Norwegian in structure and vocabulary due to their shared origins, so learning Norwegian vocabulary is a head start into many Scandinavian languages.

Origins of Norwegian Vocabulary

Modern day Norwegian traces its origins from Old Norse, an Indo-European language which was dominant from the 8th century up until Viking times. Norwegian is a North Germanic language with a very similar sound system, or phonology, to Swedish. Norwegian is the third most common Scandinavian language with about five million speakers of the language, mainly in Norway.

Norwegian is known to be spoken in many different dialects. The two most common dialects are Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål is generally used in the cities and for television and newspapers, whereas Nynorsk is a more rural dialect. Nynorsk was formed in the mid-1800’s in order to differentiate the language from Danish. Today, most speakers of either dialect are able to understand each other without difficulty.


Norwegian Words

Research indicates that most of the Norwegian words in the modern vocabulary still trace their origins to Old Norse. In present times, although Norwegian is most influenced by Swedish or Dutch, English has also had an influence on Norwegian vocabulary. In recent years, several Norwegian words, such as “juice”, or technological words like “e-mail” have come from the English language. There are also English words that come from Norwegian vocabulary, including nook, dollop and trash.

Norwegian has some false friends, or false cognates, with English vocabulary. In Norwegian, if you tell somebody that you would like to go for a swim in the lake, you just requested to take a dip in some “brine”. Also, the word “odd” may sound like English, but the Norwegian word odd means “point”. Another thing to be aware of when leaning Norwegian is the formal and informal way of addressing someone, depending on your relationship. Using the pronoun du indicates that you are close with someone, but someone with high status must be addressed with De.

Norwegian Vocabulary with Babbel

Our language program here on Babbel is designed to make learning Norwegian, or any language, the most interesting and effective experience possible for studying or mastering a foreign language. Although learning any language takes work, through our program you will gain the confidence needed to be on your way to learning Norwegian words, phrases and sentences in no time. And you can try your first Norwegian lesson for free, so what are you waiting for?

Test first lesson of every course for free

Recommended by learners like you