Norwegian Language

The Norwegian language is in fact not ONE language, as Norway has three official languages, the bokmål, (‘Book Language’), nynorsk (‘New Norwegian’) and the Sámi language. Sámi language is completely separate and only taught in Norwegian schools with Sámi pupils.


The most commonly used language is Bokmål which is heavily influenced by Danish. It is used in most written works, and spoken by more than 80% of the population, especially those living in urban areas.

It is also the main language of instruction and broadcasting.


From 1500 to around 1850, Danish was the only written language in Norway. The first Bible in Danish came to Norway in 1550, and through this religious language the Norwegians learned how to read.

In 1800 about 2% of the population spoke Danish Bokmål, while the rest of the people spoke dialects.

In 1814 Norway was no longer under Danish administration, and instead went into a union with Sweden, and with the Swedish King as head for both countrys. Nynorsk was created in the mid-19th century from combining many rural dialects. Legislation requires that nynorsk must be used in a certain percentage of schools and broadcasting media.

From about the 1830's started the first discussions if Norway should have its own language. In the period of 1842 - 1846 a man named Ivar Aasen travelled around in Norway studying different dialects, which ended up in a language called Landsmål.

Landsmål was officially equalized with Danish language in 1885, and in 1929 the Norwegian Parliament recognized this new language as "Nynorsk" (New Norwegian).

It is estimated that some 272 dialects of the Norwegian language is spoken in rural areas. The Sámi minority people of North Norway speak their own language, but they also learn Norwegian in school.

Most Danes, Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other’s languages, and Norwegian broadcasting TV and radiochannels has both Danish and Swedish hosts and reporters.

Less than 5 million people in the world speak Norwegian.

English is taught in all Norwegian schools and is spoken widely as a foreign language in Norway.


In case you plan to localize your product or service for Norway, we would
recommend Norwegian translation services by PoliLingua, as they provide high-quality translation services by linguists translating into their native tongues.


Go from Norwegian Language to see som other facts about Norway