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Speaking Norwegian: The Basics

January 27, 2010

First and foremost, I must say that language is the hardest ‘course’ to learn.  It requires significantly more hard work and dedication than, say, an introduction to the history of medieval warfare (or whatever subject get you revved).  Don’t expect language to stick as you read it.  Practice, practice, practice makes perfect.

For English speakers, Norwegian is, thankfully, a heavily Germanic influenced language.  Things will quite simply make sense, if you use your brain.  The alphabet is an absolute cornerstone to learning the language.  It’s much more phonetically based than in English, meaning that you will be more able to accurately spell words said to you. It’s composed of the standard 26 roman characters, with an additional 3 special characters.  However, c, q, w, x, and z are not used in the Norwegian language and are only learned to be able to spell foreign words.

Below is the alphabet, along with pronunciation guide courtesy of yours truly.  Norwegians move their mouth around.  A lot.  Associating a certain mouth movement to each sound will help immensely.

Nick’s Notes:

  • When saying ‘r’, roll it.  Use a trill either from the back of the throat, like French, or the front, like German.
  • Saying the difference between a, o, u, æ, ø, and å are almost 100% lip and jaw position.  Jut your jaw forward for u, back for o, and vary how open your mouth is open for the different a’s.

Unfortunately, I highly doubt I can post my classes’ (norskkurs) audiotapes here.  If you really want to take this to the next level, take a gander at Omniglot, which contains a decent set of readings, audio pronunciation of the alphabet, and explanations of the special rules in Norwegian.

Now instead of singing in the shower, you have another set of ridiculous noises to make.

Ha det bra! Goodbye

3 Comments leave one →
  1. ikkenorskgirl permalink
    February 4, 2010 12:02 pm

    I hate how the d sound changes after an r. Like, when you say “jeg elsker deg” you dont put tongue on the hard palate of your mouth behind your teeth like you normally would. Instead it goes further back, like near to the bit where the roof of the mouth really goes up. Kinda hard to explain.

    Even harder to do.


    • February 4, 2010 12:14 pm

      Worse is trying to read immigration papers printed in bare norsk (just Norwegian). An hour with the dictionary before I breathed a sigh with relief – “not being deported!”.

      If you’re from somewhere in … not-Norway, what are you listening to in order to pick up nuances like that? Just trying to maximize the Norwegian contact (classes are all taught in English, this isn’t true emersion here).

  2. ikkenorskgirl permalink
    February 4, 2010 3:14 pm

    Awww! How horrible of them to give you papers only in Norwegian without a little smile to say “hey, it’s all good…welcome!”

    Well, I am kinda (un)lucky in that I have a Norwegian boyfriend. The parenthesised “un” was because he makes me practise a lot of pronunciation, especially those tricky things. I think, to be honest, if you have any Norwegian friends/”acquaintances” there, get them to actually show you properly how things are pronounced. They might laugh at you first off, but once you keep persevering and showing you’re actually really keen to improve, they’ll ease off and help you out.

    I must say I’m surprised the classes are taught in English, it’s like they don’t want you to learn!

    Keep at it though!

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