Languages in Norway

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Languages in Norway

There is no standard spoken Norwegian and a wide range of dialects is used even in public broadcasting, and there are even two standard ways of writing it, bokmål and nynorsk. Norwegians learn both at school. The two varieties are very close and mutually intelligible with the two other Scandinavian languages, Danish and Swedish. Of the two standard ways of writing it, bokmål is by far the more common form of writing in most of the country, though nynorsk is prevalent in Western Norway. Overall, bokmål is the preferred written standard for about 85% of the population.

Sami is a minority language which has official status in some Northern regions. Road signs and other public information is then provided in both Norwegian and Sami (note that Norwegian and Sami place names may differ, maps will typically use the Norwegian name). Sami is related to Finnish, but not to Scandinavian languages, and virtually no non-Sami Norwegians speak Sami. Almost all Norwegians speak English, and unless you approach someone really old and isolated you should have no trouble whatsoever getting around in English; 91% of the population can speak English, making Norway one of the most English proficient countries on the planet where English is not an official language.

German and French are spoken by some workers in the tourism industry. However, this does not mean you will actually get by in these languages, and English is what you should stick to if you don't speak the local language or another Nordic language.

Foreign films and television programmes are generally shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Norwegian.

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