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It’s a Numbers Game Posted by on Aug 28, 2021 in Grammar, Language

If you don’t know the numbers, tourist areas such as Bryggen in Bergen might ruin you! 😅 (Image by estai from Pixabay; no copyright.)

How often do you need to do number tricks in a foreign language? Det står nok ikke øverst på lista (it probably isn’t on top of the list), but still, if you’re a little bit like me, you’ll sometimes find yourself in situations where simply counting is not enough…

In Norwegian, saying basic calculations out loud is quite straightforward:

2 + 2 = 4

to pluss to er fire

4 – 1 = 3

fire minus en er tre

2 * 2 = 4

to ganger to er fire

10 / 2 = 5

ti delt på to er fem

In order to get somebody’s math help, you can use the question words hva (what) or hvor mye (how much):

Hva er åtte ganger åtte? Hvor mye er nitten pluss syv? (What is eight times eight? How much is nineteen plus seven?)

Be ware of . and , !!! In Norwegian, the ”decimal point” is written with a comma:

7 / 2 = 3,5

syv delt på to er tre komma fem (seven divided by two is three point five)

Conversely, a point is sometimes used to make large numbers easier to read:

Billetten koster kun 3.600 kroner! (The ticket only costs 3,600 Kroner!)

Yes, it’s frustrating that the English and Norwegian systems are like mirror images in this respect! But now you’re warned, so the punctuation doesn’t trick you into buying too expensive souvenirs…

Finally, some examples of fractions and percentages and ”stuff”1This is not a math blog, so I hope you mathematicians can forgive my imprecision! 😉:

50% [femti prosent] rabatt! Halv pris! (50% discount! Half price!)

en halv, en tredjedel, en fjerdedel, en femtedel, tre femtedeler… (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 3/5)

Yes, that’s right, with the exception of 1/2, fractions are made by adding del(er) ”part(s)” to an ordinal number such as ”fourth”, ”seventh”… Notice the special word halvparten:

Halvparten av alle turister liker iskrem! (One half of all tourists likes ice cream!)

Huset er dobbelt så stort som hytta. (The house is twice as big as the cabin.)

Med en sykkel kan folk reise fire ganger fortere enn om de går.2I borrowed this phrase from a Norwegian NGO that works to improve the lives of refugees. (With a bike people can travel four times faster than if they walk.)

  • 1
    This is not a math blog, so I hope you mathematicians can forgive my imprecision! 😉
  • 2
    I borrowed this phrase from a Norwegian NGO that works to improve the lives of refugees.
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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


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