Thursday, 3 February 2011

I have noticed more than ever that the subtitles on TV (esp on NRK) are Nynorsk and it's very confusing cause I feel like I really learn from the TV (comparing the subtitles to the talking and chatting to myself,pronouncing words, trying them out!) but I'm learning Bokmål so all this Nynorsk is not good for me! What do you Norwegians out there speak? Nynorsk or Bokmål?
(Above pic was taken at the end of our street and the view is of Holmenkollen where the Oslo Ski championships will take place in a few weeks)


  1. Hello Lisa,
    Nynorsk is not a real language. It is something mixed up with some dialect, and they are forcing us to lose a lot of time at school, and nobody talks it normally! But you have to know it if you are working in TV or radio, but very few understands it really. Most peolple change the channel or turn off radio or TV when they hear it. Don´t know anybody who doesn´t hate it and think that they have lost a lot of time at school with it,and did not open a single book (me included). Don´t worry, go on with your bokmál, and don´t try to speak nynorsk. People will run away - and even more in Oslo where you live!

  2. I thought the exact same thing as you when I first started learning Norwegian (bokmål). I'll try to make this as short as possible, I'm sure your teacher at school or even your husband can give you more of a background on Nynorsk, but since it's become the language that I speak (YES, Janecke, it IS a language, there ARE 2 official languages in Norway, maybe you missed that?), I'm rather passionate about it.

    First off, there are an incredible number of dialects in this land of 4.5 million people. Probably just as many distinct dialects as there are in all American, British, Australian and other English-speaking nations combined. I think it's one of the most fascinating aspects of Norway and Norwegians. Janecke is right in that "nobody talks it ´normally´", but then again, nobody speaks 100% pure bokmål, either. Nynorsk is a compilation and consolidation of all the western dialects, the dialects that stay closest to how Norwegian originally was spoken before the influence of Danish. Because there are so many and distinct dialects, especially in the coastal regions with a landscape that has made it difficult for people to travel around and meld their dialects, nynorsk was formed as the language that would best represent these dialects in a written form since bokmål wasn't even coming close.

    I live in Sogn of Fjordane, which is one of the few fylkes in the whole country that uses nynorsk as it's first language. Even though I first learned bokmål, nynorsk has naturally become a more natural language for me to speak, because a) my husband and everyone around me speaks it, and b) I've realized that it's easier for a native English speaker to pronounce- it has a more relaxed and less singsongy tonality.

    But- I can understand your frustrations completely. The deal with reading nynorsk, hearing it on the radio and seeing it on tv is that because there are 2 official languages and the media is required to use nynorsk in 20% of their work. It really isn't all that much in the whole spectrum of what you read, hear, and see. I have noticed that a lot of BBC programs (especially history and nature shows) are texted in nynorsk, which my husband is convinced is only because Norwegians only watch reality tv these days and no one except us are watching those shows. I think 20% is a fair number since roughly 20% of the entire population calls nynorsk their preferred form of Norwegian. Those who "hate" it and think it's a waste of time are largely students in the eastern part of the country that haven't quite grasped the fact that it's important to hang on to what Norwegian once was. I, for one, think it's a far nicer language than anything that was corrupted by Danish.

    Just a thought...

  3. Siri made so many wonderful points. Im an American living here married to a norsk man. In class I learned Bokmål but use Nynorsk in everyday life. I also think it is important to try to save the language and history of it. It was sometimes hard but well worth it!

  4. Thank you Janecke,Siri and DD for your comments!
    Siri- Thanks do much for taking the time to write so much and really explaining all about Nynorsk for me! I have noticed it's mainly British tv shows that are translated into nynorsk (they are the programmes I like best!) I think it's really importnat that nynorsk is spoken in areas where people don't understand each others dialects and who knows, if we decided to move to the west coasy I also will be speaking nynorsk!