Norwegian Language Blog

Dialekta Posted by on Sep 1, 2010 in Culture, Language

Try not to be confused with the norsk I use in this post-I am intentionally using different dialects to expose you to what I hear on a daily basis:) I have written on this topic before and I´m sure I will again.  I just find dialekter (dialects in traditional bokmål, dialekta i nord Norge for eksempel) so incredibly fascinating.  I understand the reason for the existence of så mange dialekta, why and how they formed, and that people are stolt av dialekten demmes (proud of their dialect).  However, I still manage to retain a certain curiosity and  interest in the whole concept of dialekta regardless of how much I understand about them.  I guess mainly I like to listen to them and hear the differences and maybe if I´m lucky, guess where the person is from 🙂

I lived in Oslo for close to a year in 2006 and so on the street and in my classes I heard mostly bokmål.  There was one girl that I became friends with in my history class that was from Valdres, in the middle of the country, and I could barely understand a word of what she said, literally.  That was the first time I really understood how different dialektene kan være (the dialects can be) and how difficult they can be for even other Norwegians to understand!  I was just talking to a Norwegian the other day about this.  He was telling me a story about when he was on a hunting trip with a few guys from different areas in the country, maybe even within a couple hundred kilometers from one another, there was one guy who had to basically translate nearly everything one of them said because the others couldn´t understand his dialekt.  I just find that fascinating.

My good friend who I spoke most norsk with (we were very much with other international students) when we lived in Oslo spoke nord norsk because his pappa comes from nord Norge, a couple hours southwest of Tromsø by car.  Because we spoke so mykkje norsk sammen ( so much Norwegian together–på nord norsk), I more or less adopted nord norsk and therefore speak kind of a blanding (mixture) of bokmål and nord norsk.  I remember even then, when we lived in Oslo, that people would look at me confused and ask me where I came from.  I would explain the story and it would make sense.  Lots of Norwegians have this experience.  Although all seem to be proud of their own dialekter and where they come from, if they leave home and reside somewhere else where people speak considerably differently, they will no doubt pick up some of that and leave behind some of their words from home.  This is certainly the case with a guy I met recently who was born in Tromsø and has spent a significant amount of time here, it´s definitely his home, but also spent part of his childhood growing up in California and Alabama.  He told me that he has never managed to fully speak the Tromsø dialekt.

What´s cool about all of this, is that it almost seems that every individual speaks his or her own dialekt.  Every individual has different friends that come from different places, parents that perhaps come from different places and thus speak slightly differently, etc.  There you have it-my second post on dialekta, and there will surely be more, for I am always intrigued and always listening for more insight.  A new friend told me that soon he will have me speaking his dialekt for it is the best.  We´ll see 🙂  I´ll let you know how it goes.

Keep learning Norwegian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. BM:

    The dialects are by far and away the best part about learning Norwegian. IIRC, there are a dozen ways of pronouncing , three of which don’t contain any of the sounds found in the pronounced versions of those written words.

    My gf comes from Sunnmøre, and but her mother comes from Oslo. It’s quite fascinating to hear the huge difference between how they speak. Even within the broad dialect areas there is so much variation. My gf complaind when she first moved to Sunnmøre (from a little further south) that some of the children in school would say her name with a different tone contour to they way she wanted it to be said in!

    I once read an example in a book of the different dialect pronunciations for . I can’t remember all of them, but the one that definitely stood out for me was mjokke. And that’s before we get to the different dialect words!

  2. BM:

    The missing words above are:




  3. Sarah K:

    Do you know of any CDs or DVDs that teach something about the different dialects, preferably in at least a little bit of depth? I’m anxious to learn (particularly for Bergen and for southern Norway) but have only been able to find very isolated samples of what they sound like… and I really need to *hear* what they sounds like.

  4. BM:


    When I first moved to Bergen, I couldn’t understand what anyone said, as the way they spoke was so different to what I was taught back home. To train up on Bergensk, I would recommend getting som Bergen-films like Vegas and the various Varg Veum films. They don’t have *only* Bergen dialect (Varg Veum is not played by a Bergenser, for example), but much of the films are in Bergen dialect. In addition, TV2, the main commercial television channel in Norway, is based in Bergen, and many of their shows can be watched online. Again, these won’t be only in Bergen dialect, but many will be, and the channel gives a good representation of the western Norwegian dialects in general. Finally, NRK’s online radio lets you listen to local versions of P1. Tune in to NRK P1 Hordaland to hear dialects from Bergen and the surrounding area.

    The trick with NRK P1 can also be done for the two southern Norwegian dialects. It will be quite hard to find stuff in the southern dialects since East and West Agder are so small, both in terms of area and population, but TV2 and NRK both have stations in West Agder, which should give you a rough idea of how the urban dialect sounds (which is often no help in understanding the country dialects!).

    The interesting thing about the Southern dialects, and East Agder dialect in particular is that they are a transition between the western and eastern Scandinavian. East Agder has eastern intonation patterns with western vocabulary and grammar. Fascinatingly, the split between West and East Agder is more or less the split between the two intonation patterns as well.

  5. Louis Janus:

    To listen to a variety of Norwegian dialects, try this site.

    I can recommend lots of books / articles if you wish

  6. Norman Anderson:

    Love your blog very much. Have never been able to go to Norway, although I would dearly love to.

  7. Norman Anderson:

    Have always wanted to go to Norway but have never been able to so I particularly enjoy your blog, especially the pictures. Please keep them coming. Thank you.