Norwegian is the national
language of Norway, spoken by virtually all of the country's 4
Norwegian is one of
the Scandinavian languages, which form a branch of the Germanic
languages, in turn a part of the Indo-European family. It Is closely
related to Danish and Swedish, especially the former. Norway and
Denmark were one country for four centuries before 1814, and from
then until 1905 Norway was under the Swedish crown. During the years
of Danish rule a Danish-influenced "city language" began to
develop in Bergen and Oslo, and Danish eventually became the written
language of Norway.
Today there are two
distinct dialects of Norwegian. The Dano-Norwegian dialect,
originally called riksmål ("state language"), is now known
as bokmå1 ("book language"). Most newspapers and radio and
television broadcasts are in bokmå1. About 1850 a movement for the
recognition of Norwegian as a language distinct from Danish led to
the establishment of landsmå1 ("country language"), which
was based on the dialects of rural Norway. Known today as nynorsk
("New Norse"), it was intended to carry on the tradition of
Old Norse, interrupted in the 15th century.
At present bokmå1 and
nynorsk have equal status both in government and in the schools.
Attempts to combine the two into samnorsk ("Common
Norwegian") have thus far been unsuccessful, but most forward-looking Norwegians believe that it is only a matter of time
before they are eventually merged.
Both the Norwegian and
Danish alphabets contain the additional letters æ and ø, which in
Swedish are ä and ö. All three contain the letter å.
English words of
Norwegian origin include fiord, slalom, troll, lemming, auk and