Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Norwegian - easy or difficult?

Norwegian is a North Germanic language which is spoken in Norway. Jeg kan snakke litt norsk. (I can speak some Norwegian.)

Norwegian letter(s)English sound
dsilent at end of word; and in -ld, -nd, -rd
hsilent before consonants, such as in hv-
j, gj, hjyuh, as in yes
kj, tjsh, but softer and more palatalized (as in German)
sj, skjsh
ki, ky, kei, køysh, but softer and more palatalized (as in German)
ski, sky, skei, skøysh
gi, gy, gei, gøyyuh
g + other vowelsguh
sk + other vowelssk
-egn, -egl, -øgng is silent
ngnasalized, as in singer and not finger
æah as in cat
øay, but with lips rounded
åaw as in saw

Nouns in Norwegian (Bokmål) have two genders, masculine and neuter, which adjectives must agree with when modifying nouns. Technically there is a third gender, feminine (which Nynorsk retains), but since feminine nouns can be written as masculine nouns, I'm including feminine nouns in the masculine category. There are two indefinite articles that correspond with these genders: en for masculine nouns and et for neuter nouns. In the vocabulary lists, a noun followed by (n) means that it is a neuter noun and it takes the indefinite article et. The majority of nouns in Norwegian are masculine, so they take the indefinite article en.
The only case of nouns that is used in Norwegian is the genitive (showing possession), and it is easily formed by adding an -s to the noun. This is comparable to adding -'s in English
to show possession. However, if the noun already ends in -s, then you add nothing (unlike English where we add -' or -'s). Olavs hus = Olav's house

There are two indefinite articles (corresponding to a and an): en and et. En is used with most of the nouns (words denoting people almost always use en), but you will just have to learn which article goes with which noun. The definitearticle (the) is not a separate word like in most other languages. It is simply a form of the indefinite article attached to the end of the noun. Note that en words ending in a vowel retain that vowel and add an -n instead of adding -en. And et words ending in -e just add -t. Furthermore, the t of et as an indefinite article is pronounced; however, the t is silent in the definite article -et attached to the noun. (For feminine nouns, the indefinite article is ei and the definite article that is attached to the noun is -a. In theory, this gender does still exist in Bokmål, but in practice, it is rarely used and the feminine nouns are inflected like masculine nouns, i.e. add -en instead of -a for the definite form.)
En words (masculine)
Et words (neuter)
en fiska fishfiskenthe fishet vindua windowvinduetthe window
en bakera bakerbakerenthe bakeret barna childbarnetthe child
en hagea gardenhagenthe gardenet husa househusetthe house
Demonstrative Adjectives
masculinedenne dressenthis suitden dressenthat suit
neuterdette skjerfetthis scarfdet skjerfetthat scarf
pluraldisse skoenethese shoesde skoenethose shoes
Notice that the noun that follows a demonstrative adjective must have the definite article attached to it.
(The feminine form of demonstratives is identical to the masculine; denne and den.)
Subject & Object Pronouns
jeg I
meg me
du you (singular)
deg you
han he
ham him
hun she
henne her
den it (masc.)
den it
det it (neut.)
det it
man one
man one
vi we
oss us
dere you (plural)
dere you
de they
dem them

Some common phrases.
God morgen
Good Morning
Hallo / God dag
Hello / Good Day
God kveld
Good Evening
God nattGood NightHa det bra
Hei / Ha det
Hi / Bye
Vær så snill 
(Tusen) Takk
Thank you (very much)
Ingen årsak / Vær så god
Don't mention it / You're welcome
Ja / Nei
Yes / No
Herr / Fru / Frøken
Mister / Misses
Hvordan har du det?
How are you?
Hvordan går det?
How it's going?
Bra / Dårlig
Good / Bad
Hva heter du?
What's your name?
Jeg heter...
My name is... (I am called...)
Hyggelig å treffe deg!
Pleased to meet you!
Hvor kommer du fra?
Where are you from?
Jeg er fra...
I'm from...
Excuse me / Sorry
Hvor bor du?
Where do you live?
Jeg bor i...
I live in...
Jeg vil gjerne ha... / Jeg skulle gjerne hatt...
I would like...
Hvor gammel er du?
How old are you?
Jeg er ____ år (gammel).
I am ____ years (old).
Jeg vet [ikke.]
I [don't] know.
Snakker du norsk?
Do you speak Norwegian?
Jeg snakker engelsk.
I speak English.
Snakk langsomt
Speak slowly
svensk, dansk, fransk, italiensk, spansk, tysk, holländsk, rysk, japansk
Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian, Japanese
Hva heter ... på norsk?
How do you say ... in Norwegian?
Forstår du?
Do you understand?
Jeg forstår [ikke.]
I [don't] understand.
Vær så snill å gjenta / Vennligst gjenta
Please repeat
Hva er dette?
What is this?
Hvor er ... ?
Where is ... ?
Hvor mye koster dette?
How much does this cost?
Jeg er sulten
I'm hungry
Jeg er tørst
I'm thirsty
Jeg er trett
I'm tired
Jeg er syk
I'm sick
Jeg tror [ikke] det
I [don't] think so
Kom inn / hit
Come in / here
Ta plass
Have a seat.
Stans! / Stopp! 
Immediately! / Soon!
Jeg har gått meg bort
I'm lost
Pass på!
Watch out!
Vent litt!
Wait a minute!
Hvor langt er det?
How far is it?
Det var synd.
That's too bad!
Have a good meal!
Cheers! (toast)
Lykke til!Good luck!Jeg elsker deg.
I love you.
Jeg savner deg.
I miss you.
The one thing most people, myself included, see right away is how similar  Norwegian is to English. While Norwegian looks scary with its extra letters ø and å, they are not as difficult as one might think. Yes, it takes some listening to and practice but soon it can become as normal and regular as speaking English.

One thing I really like about Norwegian is the simple way to conjugate words, for example: 
Present tense is made by adding an -r to the verb, regardless of who's doing it. That gives us: 

ha - to have
jeg har - I have
du har - you have
han har - he has
vi har - we have

See how easy it is? There are no endings to change depending on who I am talking to, about or for gender. This makes Norwegian one of the easiest languages to learn. So what are you waiting for? Lær norsk! (Learn Norwegian!)