How Hard Is Norwegian? Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Sep 30, 2015 in Language
How hard is Norwegian actually? I’d say it depends a lot on your native language. If you’re an English-speaker – lucky you. Both languages come from the same Germanic roots, and there are loads of similarities, grammar-wise and vocabulary-wise:
Vi liker egg! (We like eggs!)
Naboen har små vinduer. (The neighbour has small windows.)
Some things are even easier than in English, such as the present tense of verbs:
Jeg springer. (I’m running.)
Du springer. (You’re running.)
Hun springer hver torsdag. (She runs every Thursday.)
…or such as the way you make questions:
Springer du? (Are you running?)
Springer du alltid? (Do you always run?)
Kommer du på torsdag? (Will you come on Thursday?)
Other things, of course, are harder. First and foremost, Norwegian nouns have got three different genders, and for each new noun you learn you have to remember whether it’s an en, ei or et word – and modify any adjective accordingly:
Huset er rart. (The house is strange.)
Boka er rar. (The book is strange.)
Gutten er rar. (The boy is strange.)
Here are a couple of things that Norwegians themselves struggle with:
• å versus og. These are often mixed up in writing, since both are pronounced like ”aw” in awful. og means and (du og jeg – you and I), while å is used to highlight infinitives, just like the English word to: å være eller ikke være (to be or not to be).
• da versus når. Both translate as ”when”, and are not always distinguished in the spoken language. In writing, the rule of thumb is ”Den gang da, hver gang når” (On that particular occasion – da. On each occasion – når.):
Da jeg kom hjem, ventet katten i vinduet. (When I got home, the cat was waiting in the window.)
Når jeg kommer hjem, venter katten i vinduet. (Each time I get home, the cat waits in the window.)
During the next couple of months, I’d like to help you overcome some of your Norwegian struggles. To that end, this blog needs your help! 🙂 So, please take some time to drop a comment answering the following: In your experience, what is the most difficult part of learning Norwegian? What really makes YOU fret, sweat and despair?
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