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The Norwegian language

Considered by some linguists to be one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn, around 5 million people speak Norwegian worldwide.

Brief History and Origins:

  • Norwegian, known as “norsk” in its native form, belongs to the North Germanic family of languages, often referred to as the Scandinavian languages.
  • Historically, Old Norse was the language spoken in the Nordic region, from which Norwegian evolved.
  • In the 13th century, Old Norse began to diversify into Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian due to the geographical and political separation of Norway and Iceland.
  • By the late Middle Ages, Middle Norwegian was in use, influenced by Middle Low German due to extensive trade.
  • Modern Norwegian, as we know it today, began its evolution in the 16th century.

Number of Speakers:

  • Approximately 5.3 million people speak Norwegian as their first language, mostly in Norway.
  • There are also small Norwegian-speaking communities in other countries due to migration.

Where it is an Official Language:

  • Norway: It’s the official language of Norway. Notably, Norway has two written standards, Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål is more widely used, while Nynorsk preserves more traditional Norwegian linguistic elements.
  • It’s also recognised in the Nordic Council, a regional body for cooperation, though not as an official working language.

Example of Text:

Bokmål: “Hei, hvordan har du det?”
English Translation: “Hello, how are you?”

Where and How it is Used:

  • Within Norway: Used in all aspects of daily life – education, media, business, government, and casual interactions.
  • Literature: Norway has a rich literary history, from the sagas to contemporary authors. The language is used in all forms of written media.
  • Outside Norway: Norwegian is taught in some universities around the world, especially in institutions with programmes in Scandinavian studies.

English Words in Norwegian:

Due to globalisation and cultural exchange, several English words have been absorbed into Norwegian, especially in technology and pop culture.

  • Internett (Internet)
  • Mobil (Mobile)
  • E-post (Email)
  • Kafé (Café)

Norwegian Words in English:

Some Norwegian words have found their way into English, reflecting cultural exchanges over centuries:

  • Ski: Directly from the Norwegian word “ski”, which means a piece of wood or split piece of wood.
  • Slalom: A word in skiing, derived from Norwegian.
  • Troll: In myth, trolls are supernatural beings in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore.


With its rich history and modern-day vitality, the Norwegian language remains an essential facet of Norway’s cultural identity. Its close relation to other Scandinavian languages means that speakers often find it relatively easy to understand Swedish and Danish. The blend of age-old tradition with modern influences reflects Norway’s position as a country that values its past while eagerly engaging with the future.


Here at Brightlines, we offer a range of translation services by Norwegian translation specialists who have used Norwegian since birth.

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Our translation services - FAQ

Do you use native translators?

Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.

How long will the translations take?

The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.

What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?

All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.

Which languages can you translate into?

We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.

I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?

Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.

Does the translation need to be proofread?

Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.

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If you need Norwegian translations, get in touch with our team, or get a quick quote.