André Øvredal, 2010
Welcome to the Self-Access Centre materials database
The SAC is here to provide you with opportunities to study Norwegian outside class time. If you need advice and guidance on what to study, you should talk to your class tutor, who will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on what to study.
A bit about the language
Norwegian (norsk) is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants. These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language and Icelandic language, constitute the North Germanic or Scandinavian languages. Faroese and Icelandic are hardly mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form, because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. As established by law and governmental policy, there are two official forms of written Norwegian – Bokmål (literally "book language") and Nynorsk (literally "new Norwegian"). The Norwegian Language Council recommends the terms "Norwegian Bokmål" and "Norwegian Nynorsk" in English. There is no officially sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian, and most Norwegians speak their own dialect in all circumstances. The sociolect of the urban upper and middle class in East Norway, upon which Bokmål is primarily based, can be regarded as a de facto spoken standard for Bokmål. This so-called standard østnorsk ("Standard Eastern Norwegian") is the form generally taught to foreign students.
Norwegians are educated in both Bokmål and Nynorsk. A 2005 poll indicates that 86.3% use primarily Bokmål as their daily written language, 5.5% use both Bokmål and Nynorsk, and 7.5% use primarily Nynorsk. Thus 13% are frequently writing Nynorsk, though the majority speak dialects that resemble Nynorsk more closely than Bokmål. Broadly speaking, Nynorsk writing is widespread in Western Norway, though not in major urban areas, and also in the upper parts of mountain valleys in the southern and eastern parts of Norway. Today, not only is nynorsk the official language of 4 of the 19 Norwegian counties (fylker), but also of many municipalities in 5 other counties. The Norwegian broadcasting corporation (NRK) broadcasts in both Bokmål and Nynorsk, and all governmental agencies are required to support both written languages. Bokmål is used in 92% of all written publications, Nynorsk in 8% (2000). Norwegian is one of the working languages of the Nordic Council. Under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries who speak Norwegian have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs.