The Norwegian language is a North Germanic language, stemming from the Indo-European language. It shares a common history with the Swedish and Danish languages. These three languages together have very similar grammatical systems, as well as vocabulary. This means that if you know one of these languages, then it will be relatively easy to learn the others, or at least get by in their respective countries should you visit them.
Instead of the Norwegian language, from the 16th to the 19th centuries, Danish was the official language of Norway. There are three periods of language in relation to the Norwegian language which are Old Norwegian, Middle Norwegian and Modern Norwegian. The transition phase, Middle Norwegian, only lasted for around 200 years from 1350 to 1525AD, and isn’t considered to be a separate form of the language, but more of a transitional period on account of the fact that the language changed so much in this time.
The Norwegian language is spoken primarily in the country of Norway, which is the only country that the Norwegian language has official status in. It is also spoken in the U.S., Denmark, and Canada. There are around 4.8 million speakers of the Norwegian language living in Norway itself, with around 55,000 in the U.S., 15,000 in Denmark, and 7,000 in Canada. This gives a total of nearly 5 million Norwegian language speakers around the world.
There are five main dialects in the Norwegian language: North Norwegian, Trondelag Norwegian, Midland Norwegian, West Norwegian, and East Norwegian. As you can see, the dialects are dependent on the region. Learning one of these dialects will not hinder you in understanding the other dialects, though they do differ in terms of accent and grammar. Some of the vocabulary is also different.
The Norwegian language in its written form comes in two official forms and one unofficial form; Nynorsk, Bokmal and Riksmal. Bokmal, or “book language” and Nynorsk “new Norwegian” are the two official forms that are regulated by the Norwegian Language Council. Riksmal, or “national language”, is also used, though it does not carry the same official status, partly because it is so similar to Bokmal. Bokmal itself is actually a Norwegianized version of the Danish.
There is a fourth language, Hognorsk, but this is simply a more pure form of Nynorsk that is a very traditionalist way of writing and spelling. Any language and spelling reforms that have happened since the 20th century are rejected by the Hognorsk writing form. Spoken Norwegian, conversely, is not regulated at all, although both Bokmal and Nynorsk are taught in schools.
Nouns in the Norwegian language are classified into three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The only exception to this is for the city of Bergen, which has only two genders: neuter and common. Common, in this case, essentially means that gender is implied, but not specified as to which.
Why Learn The Norwegian Language?
If you are looking to relocate to a country in Europe, then Norway is one of the highest rated. The country of Norway has universal health care and subsidized higher education. It has a low crime rate, and the country itself is beautiful, with many fjords, stunning coast and thousands of islands dotted along the coast.
The weather is relatively set, with warm summers and cold winters, however due to the position of the country on the globe, there are a few months in darkest winter where the sun does not rise above the horizon. The Norwegian language is also useful to learn if you wish to learn any of the other Scandinavian languages, as it is so very similar to them.