What language do they speak in norway?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: July 10, 2024

Official Language: Norwegian

Norwegian, or "Norsk" as it is known in Norway, is the official language of the country. It is a North Germanic language closely related to Danish and Swedish. Norwegian has two written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk. Both are utilized in government documents, education, and media, although Bokmål is more prevalent, being used by approximately 85-90% of the population.


Bokmål, which translates to "Book Language," has its origins in the Danish language, influenced significantly during the period of Danish rule over Norway (1536-1814). It is the more commonly used written form and is generally considered easier for speakers of other Scandinavian languages to understand.


Nynorsk, meaning "New Norwegian," was developed in the 19th century by linguist Ivar Aasen. It is based on various rural dialects and aims to reflect the more traditional Norwegian speech patterns. While less commonly used, Nynorsk remains a crucial part of Norway's cultural and linguistic identity, and all students in Norway learn both Bokmål and Nynorsk during their education.

Norwegian Dialects

Norway is known for its rich tapestry of dialects, which vary significantly from region to region. These dialects can differ so much that they sometimes seem like entirely different languages to outsiders. The primary dialect groups include:

Eastern Norwegian (Østnorsk)

Spoken in the Oslo region and surrounding areas, Eastern Norwegian is considered the most standard and is closest to Bokmål. Its relative simplicity and widespread use make it the most understandable dialect for non-Norwegians.

Western Norwegian (Vestnorsk)

This group encompasses a variety of dialects spoken in the western part of Norway, including Bergen, Stavanger, and the fjord regions. These dialects often feature more vowel changes and can be more challenging to comprehend for those accustomed to Bokmål.

Northern Norwegian (Nordnorsk)

Spoken in the northern regions, including Tromsø and Bodø, Northern Norwegian dialects have distinct pronunciation patterns and vocabulary. The dialects in this region can be quite different from those in the south and are influenced by the Sami languages.

Trøndelag (Trøndersk)

The Trøndelag region, including Trondheim, has its own unique set of dialects. These dialects are known for their distinctive intonation and specific grammatical structures, making them stand out from other Norwegian dialects.

Sami Languages

Norway is also home to the indigenous Sami people, who speak several Sami languages. These languages belong to the Uralic family and are quite different from Norwegian. In Norway, the most spoken Sami languages are Northern Sami, Lule Sami, and Southern Sami.

Northern Sami

Northern Sami is the most widely spoken of the Sami languages, with around 15,000 speakers in Norway. It is used in education, media, and public administration in Sami-majority areas. The language has its own written form and is taught in schools within the Sami regions.

Lule Sami

Lule Sami has fewer speakers, approximately 500 in Norway. It is primarily spoken in the northern part of Nordland county. Efforts are being made to preserve and revitalize Lule Sami, including educational programs and media broadcasts.

Southern Sami

Southern Sami is spoken by around 300 people in Norway. It is used in parts of Nordland and Trøndelag counties. Similar to other Sami languages, there are initiatives to support its preservation, such as bilingual schools and cultural programs.

Minority Languages

Norway is also home to several minority languages spoken by immigrant communities and historical minorities. Some of these include:


Kven is a Finnic language spoken by the Kven people, an ethnic minority in northern Norway. Closely related to Finnish, Kven has around 10,000 speakers. Efforts to preserve the language include Kven language courses and cultural initiatives.


The Romani people in Norway speak a variety of Romani languages. These languages are part of the Indo-Aryan family and have been influenced by various European languages over time. Romani speakers in Norway work to keep their linguistic heritage alive through cultural events and education.


Scandoromani, also known as Tattare, is spoken by the Norwegian and Swedish Travellers. It is a mix of Romani and Scandinavian languages. Though the number of speakers is dwindling, efforts are being made to document and preserve this unique linguistic blend.

Language Policies and Education

Norwegian language policy is characterized by its support for linguistic diversity. Both Bokmål and Nynorsk are used in official capacities, and students are required to learn and be proficient in both forms. Additionally, the Sami languages are protected and promoted through education and media.

Language in Schools

Norwegian students receive instruction in both Bokmål and Nynorsk, ensuring they are proficient in both written forms. Sami students have the right to be taught in their native Sami language, and there are schools dedicated to providing education in Kven and other minority languages.

Media and Language

Norwegian media reflects the country's linguistic diversity. Newspapers, television, and radio broadcast in both Bokmål and Nynorsk, as well as in Sami languages. This inclusivity helps maintain the vitality of these languages and provides representation for different linguistic communities.

Language and Identity

Language plays a crucial role in shaping national and cultural identity in Norway. The coexistence of Bokmål and Nynorsk, along with the preservation of Sami and minority languages, highlights the country's commitment to linguistic diversity and cultural heritage.

National Identity

Many Norwegians feel a strong connection to their regional dialects, which are seen as markers of local identity. The use of dialects in everyday life, as well as in literature and music, reinforces this connection and contributes to a rich cultural tapestry.

Cultural Revitalization

Efforts to revitalize and preserve Sami and minority languages are part of a broader movement to recognize and honor Norway's diverse cultural heritage. These initiatives help to ensure that linguistic traditions are passed down to future generations, fostering a sense of pride and continuity.

The linguistic landscape of Norway is a vibrant mosaic, reflecting the country's history, culture, and identity. From the dual written standards of Bokmål and Nynorsk, to the myriad regional dialects, and the rich heritage of Sami and minority languages, Norway's commitment to linguistic diversity is evident. As you explore the nuances of these languages, you may find yourself drawn into a deeper understanding of Norway's multifaceted cultural fabric.

Related Questions

What language is spoken in norway?

Norwegian is the official language of Norway, used in government, education, media, and daily communication. It belongs to the North Germanic family of languages, closely related to Danish and Swedish. Norwegian itself is divided into two written standards: Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Ask Hotbot: What language is spoken in norway?

Where is norway?

Norway is a country located in Northern Europe, comprising the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It shares borders with Sweden to the east, Finland to the northeast, and Russia to the far northeast. To the west, Norway is bounded by the North Atlantic Ocean, with an extensive coastline that includes the fjords for which the country is famed.

Ask Hotbot: Where is norway?

What to do in norway?

Norway, a Scandinavian country known for its stunning natural landscapes, offers a plethora of activities and sights. From its majestic fjords to the vibrant city life in Oslo, Norway provides diverse experiences for travelers. Here's a comprehensive guide on what to do in Norway.

Ask Hotbot: What to do in norway?

What language does norway speak?

Norwegian, or "Norsk" in the local vernacular, is the official language of Norway. It belongs to the North Germanic language group, which also includes Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese. The language is deeply rooted in the history and culture of Norway, and it has evolved through various stages from Old Norse to the modern Norwegian we know today.

Ask Hotbot: What language does norway speak?