Top Norwegian Words and Phrases for Travelers

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Learn some basic Norwegian words and phrases before you travel. Your trip to Norway will be much more enjoyable if you can communicate with the locals. Our team has reviewed the most common Norwegian words and phrases for you. You should also take a small pocket dictionary with you just in case or download a translator app to your phone.

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Basics

These easy-to-remember words and phrases are important to know if you’re traveling to Norway.

  • Yes – Ja
  • No – Nei
  • Thank you – Takk
  • Thank you very much – Tusen takk
  • You’re welcome – Vær så god
  • Please – Vær så snill
  • Excuse me – Unnskyld meg
  • I do not understand – Jeg forstår ikke
  • Day – Dag
  • Week – Uke
  • Month – Måned
  • Year – År
  • Today – I dag
  • Yesterday – I går
  • Tomorrow – I morgen
  • How do you say this in Norwegian? – Hvordan sier man dette på norsk?

Did you know that Norwegian is considered one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn? This may sound surprising because, let’s face it, Norwegian isn’t often “up there” on the list of modern foreign languages to learn when you’re considering a course. But we think Norwegian is an incredible language for anyone to try to learn.

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Greetings

  • Hello – Hallo
  • Goodbye – Ha det
  • Good morning – God morgen
  • Good afternoon – God ettermiddag
  • Good evening – God kveld
  • How are you? – Hvordan har du det?
  • Nice to meet you – Hyggelig å møte deg
  • Do you speak English? – Snakker du engelsk?

Yes we know. English is renowned for polluting the languages of the world with words like ‘email’ and ‘webcam’. But Norwegian has actually loaned English a few words too. Some examples we like are: berserk, ski, lemming and slalom.

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Getting Around

If you’re lost or unsure of how to get somewhere, here are some simple questions to ask and words to know in order to find your way.

  • Where is …? – Hvor er …?
  • How much is the fare? – Hvor mye koster billetten?
  • One ticket to …, please. – En billett til …, takk.
  • Train – Tog
  • Bus – Buss
  • Underground/tube/metro – T-bane
  • Tram – Trikk
  • Train station – Jernbanestasjon
  • Bus station – Busstasjon
  • Airport – Flyplass
  • Tourist Information – Turistinformasjon
  • Police station – Politistasjon
  • Hospital – Sykehus
  • Museum – Museum
  • Bank – Bank
  • Restaurant – Restaurant
  • Church – Kirke
  • Restrooms – Toalett

“Norwegian” is actually a little misleading, for there are a number of languages that fall under this rather ‘umbrella-like’ term and are considered Norwegian. There is Bokmål (Book Norwegian, official), Nynorsk (New Norwegian, official), Riksmal (‘national language’) and Hognorsk (High Norwegian), to name the more well-known ones. Nynorsk and Bokmål provide a basis for the written form of Norwegian but for the spoken one, this varies dialectically all over the country.
300316-norwegian-language-2 Shopping

  • Store/shop – Butikk
  • How much does this cost? – Hvor mye koster dette?
  • What is this? – Hva er dette?
  • I’ll buy it. – Jeg kjøper det.
  • I would like to buy… – Jeg vil gjerne kjøpe…
  • Do you have … – Har du …
  • Do you accept credit cards? – Tar dere kredittkort?

Because of the large number of cognates in Norwegian, you will be surprised to find that reading a simple newspaper article would actually come pretty easy to you. Some words are identical, such as bank, over and problem, while some are close enough to guess, like velkommen (welcome), av (of) and skrive (write).

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Dining

  • Table – Bord
  • Menu – Meny
  • I have a reservation – Jeg har en reservasjon
  • Soup – Suppe
  • Salad – Salat
  • Appetizer – Forrett
  • Hamburger – Hamburger
  • Dessert – Dessert
  • Drink – Drikke
  • Water – Vann
  • Red wine – Rødvin
  • White wine – Hvitvin
  • Beer – Øl
  • Coffee – Kaffe
  • Waiter – Servitør
  • Waitress – Servitøren

Because of the closeness between Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, there is a lot of fluidity between the languages. Norwegians are able to understand around 88% of spoken Swedish, and 73% of spoken Danish. Conversely, Swedes understand 48% of Norwegian and the Danes 69%.
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  • One – En
  • Two – To
  • Three – Tre
  • Four – Fire
  • Five – Fem
  • Six – Seks
  • Seven – Syv
  • Eight – Åtte
  • Nine – Ni
  • Ten – Ti

And why is this surprising? Well, Norwegian seafarers settled Iceland, the two languages are somewhat closely related. However, despite both Norway and Iceland being under Danish rule for some time, the isolation of Iceland means that the Danish influence was limited and their language is closer to Old Norse than Norwegian. Which means that the good people of Iceland can read the Sagas of the viking eras with ease, whilst those of Norway need patience and a good dictionary to do so.

The Norwegian flag button on the keyboard. close-up
The Norwegian flag button on the keyboard. close-up

Days of the Week

  • Monday – Mandag
  • Tuesday – Tirsdag
  • Wednesday – Onsdag
  • Thursday – Torsdag
  • Friday – Fredag
  • Saturday – Lørdag
  • Sunday – Søndag

Norwegian is a bit exotic compared to the other European languages as it is a tonal language or described as having a pitch accent. To the untrained ear this sounds like singing and you’ll have to go as far away as China to hear a similar spoken word. It is often used to distinguish between things like homonyms, but we love how it makes the language sound so lyrical!

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Norwegian Pronunciations

  • KJ, KI, and KY makes a soft k-sound.
  • J is pronounced like the “y” in yes.
  • R is more “rolled” than the English R.

Pronounciation Guide

  • A as in father
  • E as in bed
  • I as in meat
  • U as in food
  • Æ as in sad
  • Ø as in hurt
  • Å as in ball

 

There are three in particular that stand out for us in Norwegian and we think the English language would be better for having them. Glad i deg, a kind of ‘I have affection for you’ phrase that doesn’t lead to any awkward expectations. Takk for sist, translating as ‘thanks for the last time’ and is used for when you bump into someone that you haven’t seen for a while. And pålegg which is all the stuff that you put on top of an open sandwich.

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Norwegian Slang

  • Girl – Berte
  • Guy/Dude – Kiis
  • That’s cool. – Det er k
  • Fantastic/great – Konge
  • Boy/Girl – Type/kjei
  • Bad/ugly – kjiip
  • Crazy/wild – Texas

There is no actual word for “please” in Norwegian. For those of us overly liberal with the use of the word please, this might stop you in your tracks. Sure, there are phrases that more or less mean the same thing: venlegst (most friend-ily) and ver så venleg (very kind). Norwegian tends to be a more polite language overall, so perhaps it can be forgiven for lacking a simple please. For example, the presumptuous are you is always replaced with can you – a subtle change, yes, but politer than ours, nonetheless.

Top Norwegian Words and Phrases for Travelers, compiled by the Daily Scandinavian team

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is great. I will have 8 family members with me in July visit Norway. Wish I could get a copy for all.

    • Hi Barbara,
      Sorry for my late reply, but I do hope you succeeded in making a copy of our little guide on Norwegian language – and that your stay in Norway eas pleasant.
      Regard Tor

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