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What Language Do They Speak in Norway?

What Language Do They Speak in Norway

Key Takeaways

Official LanguageNorwegian
DialectsBokmål, Nynorsk
Secondary LanguagesSami, Kven, Romani, Romano-Serb
Popular Foreign LanguageEnglish (widely spoken)

A Dive into the Norwegian Language

Norway, known for its stunning fjords, Northern Lights, and rich Viking history, is also home to a unique linguistic landscape. While the official language of Norway is Norwegian, there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.

Norwegian: More than Just One Language

Norwegian isn’t just one unified language. Instead, it has two written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk.


  • Origin: Derived from the Danish language during the 400 years of Danish rule.
  • Usage: It’s the more popular of the two and is used by around 85-90% of the population.
  • Areas: Predominantly in the eastern and northern parts of Norway.


  • Origin: Created in the 19th century to represent rural dialects.
  • Usage: Used by 10-15% of the Norwegian population.
  • Areas: More common in the western parts of Norway.

Table: Comparison of Bokmål and Nynorsk

Derived fromDanishRural dialects
% of population usage85-90%10-15%
Common AreasEastern and northern NorwayWestern Norway

The Richness of Dialects

Apart from the official written forms, spoken Norwegian comprises a plethora of dialects. These dialects can vary significantly from one region to another, making it an enriching experience to travel across the country and witness its linguistic diversity.

Some popular dialects include:

  • Oslo: Spoken in the capital city.
  • Bergen: From the second-largest city.
  • Trøndersk: From the Trøndelag region.
  • Nordnorsk: From the northern parts of Norway.

Indigenous and Minority Languages

Norway also recognizes several indigenous and minority languages, which are crucial to its cultural heritage.

  1. Sami:
    • Spoken by the Sami people in the northern regions.
    • Has its own parliament in Norway.
  2. Kven:
    • Spoken by the Kven people.
    • Recognized in 2005 as a minority language.
  3. Romani and Romano-Serb:
    • Languages of the Romani people.

Table: Indigenous and Minority Languages in Norway

SamiSami peopleHas its own parliament
KvenKven peopleRecognized as a minority language in 2005
RomaniRomani peopleProtected under the European Charter
Romano-SerbRomani peopleProtected under the European Charter

The Influence of English

English is widely spoken in Norway, especially among the younger population. Most Norwegians are bilingual and can effortlessly switch between Norwegian and English. This proficiency is attributed to:

  • English being a mandatory subject in schools.
  • Exposure to English media without dubbing.
  • High emphasis on language education in the country.

Fun Fact:

Norway ranks among the top countries in the world for English proficiency, despite it being a second language for its citizens!

In Conclusion

While Norwegian is the official language of Norway, its linguistic landscape is beautifully complex, influenced by its rich history, diverse communities, and global interactions. Whether you’re planning a visit or just curious, knowing about Norway’s languages offers a deeper insight into its vibrant culture.