norsk (neuter singular norsk, definite singular and plural norske, comparative norskere, indefinite superlative norskest, definite superlative norskeste)
norsk m or f (indefinite singular neuter norsk or (unofficial) norskt, definite singular and plural norske, comparative norskare, superlative norskast)
Norwegian (Norwegian: norsk [ˈnɔʂːk] (listen)) is a North Germanic language spoken mainly in Norway, where it is an official language. Along with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a dialect continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional varieties; some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, in particular, are very close. These Scandinavian languages, together with Faroese and Icelandic as well as some extinct languages, constitute the North Germanic languages. Faroese and Icelandic are not mutually intelligible with Norwegian in their spoken form because continental Scandinavian has diverged from them. While the two Germanic languages with the greatest numbers of speakers, English and German, have close similarities with Norwegian, neither is mutually intelligible with it. Norwegian is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Age.
After the personal union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, both languages were developed further and reached what is now considered their classic forms after a reform in 1917. Riksmål was, in 1929, officially renamed Bokmål (literally 'book language'), and Landsmål to Nynorsk (literally 'new Norwegian'). A proposition to substitute Danish-Norwegian (dansk-norsk) for Bokmål lost in parliament by a single vote. The name Nynorsk, the linguistic term for modern Norwegian, was chosen to contrast with Danish and emphasis on the historical connection to Old Norwegian. Today, this meaning is often lost, and it is commonly mistaken as a "new" Norwegian in contrast to the "real" Norwegian Bokmål.
Bokmål and Nynorsk were made closer by a reform in 1938. This was a result of a state policy to merge Nynorsk and Bokmål into a single language, to be called Samnorsk. A 1946 poll showed that this policy was supported by 79% of Norwegians at the time. However, opponents of the official policy still managed to create a massive protest movement against Samnorsk in the 1950s, fighting in particular the use of "radical" forms in Bokmål text books in schools. In the reform in 1959, the 1938 reform was partially reversed in Bokmål, but Nynorsk was changed further towards Bokmål. Since then Bokmål has reverted even further toward traditional Riksmål, while Nynorsk still adheres to the 1959 standard. Therefore, a small minority of Nynorsk enthusiasts use a more conservative standard called Høgnorsk. The Samnorsk policy had little influence after 1960, and was officially abandoned in 2002.
Some letters may be modified by diacritics: é, è, ê, ó, ò, and ô. In Nynorsk, ì and ù and ỳ are occasionally seen as well. The diacritics are not compulsory, but may in a few cases distinguish between different meanings of the word, e.g.: for ('for/to'), fór ('went'), fòr ('furrow') and fôr ('fodder'). Loanwords may be spelled with other diacritics, most notably ü, á and à.
As established by law and government policy, the two official forms of written Norwegian are Bokmål (literally 'book tongue') and Nynorsk ('new Norwegian'). The official Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) is responsible for regulating the two forms, and recommends the terms Norwegian Bokmål and Norwegian Nynorsk in English. Two other written forms without official status also exist. One, called Riksmål ('national language'), is today to a large extent the same language as Bokmål though somewhat closer to the Danish language. It is regulated by the unofficial Norwegian Academy, which translates the name as 'Standard Norwegian'. The other is Høgnorsk ('High Norwegian'), a more purist form of Nynorsk, which maintains the language in an original form as given by Ivar Aasen and rejects most of the reforms from the 20th century; this form has limited use.
Nynorsk and Bokmål provide standards for how to write Norwegian, but not for how to speak the language. No standard of spoken Norwegian is officially sanctioned, and most Norwegians speak their own dialects in all circumstances. Thus, unlike in many other countries, the use of any Norwegian dialect, whether it coincides with the written norms or not, is accepted as correct spoken Norwegian. However, in areas where East Norwegian dialects are used, a tendency exists to accept a de facto spoken standard for this particular regional dialect, Urban East Norwegian or Standard East Norwegian (Norwegian: Standard østnorsk), in which the vocabulary coincides with Bokmål. Outside Eastern Norway, this spoken variation is not used.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Danish was the standard written language of Norway. As a result, the development of modern written Norwegian has been subject to strong controversy related to nationalism, rural versus urban discourse, and Norway's literary history. Historically, Bokmål is a Norwegianised variety of Danish, while Nynorsk is a language form based on Norwegian dialects and puristic opposition to Danish. The now-abandoned official policy to merge Bokmål and Nynorsk into one common language called Samnorsk through a series of spelling reforms has created a wide spectrum of varieties of both Bokmål and Nynorsk. The unofficial form known as Riksmål is considered more conservative than Bokmål and is far closer to Danish while the unofficial Høgnorsk is more conservative than Nynorsk and is far closer to Faroese, Icelandic and Old Norse.
Both Nynorsk and Bokmål have a great variety of optional forms. The Bokmål that uses the forms that are close to Riksmål is called moderate or conservative, depending on one's viewpoint, while the Bokmål that uses the forms that are close to Nynorsk is called radical. Nynorsk has forms that are close to the original Landsmål and forms that are close to Bokmål.
Opponents of the spelling reforms aimed at bringing Bokmål closer to Nynorsk have retained the name Riksmål and employ spelling and grammar that predate the Samnorsk movement. Riksmål and conservative versions of Bokmål have been the de facto standard written language of Norway for most of the 20th century, being used by large newspapers, encyclopedias, and a significant proportion of the population of the capital Oslo, surrounding areas, and other urban areas, as well as much of the literary tradition. Since the reforms of 1981 and 2003 (effective in 2005), the official Bokmål can be adapted to be almost identical with modern Riksmål. The differences between written Riksmål and Bokmål are comparable to American and British English differences.
There is also an unofficial form of Nynorsk, called Høgnorsk, discarding the post-1917 reforms, and thus close to Ivar Aasen's original Landsmål. It is supported by Ivar Aasen-sambandet, but has found no widespread use.
In 2010, 86.5% of the pupils in the primary and lower secondary schools in Norway receive education in Bokmål, while 13.0% receive education in Nynorsk. From the eighth grade onwards, pupils are required to learn both. Out of the 431 municipalities in Norway, 161 have declared that they wish to communicate with the central authorities in Bokmål, 116 (representing 12% of the population) in Nynorsk, while 156 are neutral. Of 4,549 state publications in 2000, 8% were in Nynorsk, and 92% in Bokmål. The large national newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet, and VG) are published in Bokmål or Riksmål. Some major regional newspapers (including Bergens Tidende and Stavanger Aftenblad), many political journals, and many local newspapers use both Bokmål and Nynorsk.
Below are a few sentences giving an indication of the differences between Bokmål and Nynorsk, compared to the conservative (closer to Danish) form Riksmål, Danish, as well as Old Norse, Swedish, Faroese, Icelandic (the living language grammatically closest to Old Norse), Old English and some modern West Germanic languages:
Norwegian nouns belong to three noun classes (genders): masculine, feminine and neuter. All feminine nouns can optionally be inflected using masculine noun class morphology in Bokmål due to its Danish heritage. In comparison, the use of all three genders (including the feminine) is mandatory in Nynorsk.
There is in general no way to infer what grammatical gender a specific noun has, but there are some patterns of nouns where the gender can be inferred. For instance, all nouns ending in -nad will be masculine in both Bokmål and Nynorsk (for instance the noun jobbsøknad, which means 'job application'). Most nouns ending in -ing will be feminine, like the noun forventning ('expectation').
In general, the genitive case has died out in modern Norwegian and there are only some remnants of it in certain expressions: til fjells ('to the mountains'), til sjøs ('to the sea'). To show ownership, there is an enclitic -s similar to English -'s; Sondres flotte bil ('Sondre's nice car', Sondre being a personal name). There are also reflexive possessive pronouns, sin, si, sitt, sine; Det er Sondre sitt ('It is Sondre's'). In both Bokmål and modern Nynorsk, there is often a mix of both of these to mark possession, though it is more common in Nynorsk to use the reflexive pronouns; in Nynorsk use of the reflexive possessive pronouns is generally encouraged to avoid mixing the enclitic -s with the historical grammatical case remnants of the language. The reflexive pronouns agree in gender and number with the noun. 781b155fdc