Mar 17, 2012


Some words in Norwegian have multiple meanings, and sometimes it's almost impossible to distinguish for someone who isn't fluent.

One particular example is the word "om"

Depending on where you first learn the word, you probably recognize it as meaning "about" for example in the sentence "What do you think about...?"

"Hva tenker du om...?" (literally meaning "what think you about...?")

But then maybe you come across the phrase "om du aldri prøver, du aldri vinne" (if you never try, you never win)

So now, not only does "om" mean "about", it also means "if". This would not be so bad if om didn't also mean "on":

"Det er om bordet" (it is on the table)

Fortunately, this is a pretty unusual thing to say, as a preposition (words which define the location of something eg. in, on, under, around) it would be more common to use the word "på" for this scenario in the sentence "Det er på bordet".

To further confuse the situation there is also another word for "if" - "hvis". At the beginning of a sentence, these terms - hvis and om - are virtually interchangeable. You could say "Hvis du vil" or "Om du vil" to begin a sentence with "If you want". however, it is important to note that "hvis" is rarely used in the middle or end of a sentence (not that any proper sentences end on the word "if" in either language). For example, you cannot say "Jeg ble spurt hvis jeg hadde en katt" (I was asked if I had a cat). The correct way would be to say "Jeg ble spurt om jeg hadde en katt"

Om is just one of numerous words that are either the same and have different meanings, or are spelled or pronounced similar but have different meanings. The word in Norwegian for "meaning" is "betydning" and as you learn more and more Norwegian you will quickly discover that there are many homonyms (words with different meanings) in the language. Unfortunately, the only way to learn this is to learn the meanings and practice using them in different sentences, so, good luck.

Jan 18, 2012

Danish, Norwegian, Swedish - all the same?

As you would expect from countries who share so much history and are in such close proximity with eachother, the languages of the Scandinavian countries are all very similair and of course stem off the same Northern Germanic section of the language tree.

While Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are all mutually intelligible (relatively), Icelandic and Faroese are much less so, despite also being North Germanic languages, they maintain much closer relations to Old Norse (the 'original' Nord language). Finnish, of course, is completely different to all of these, as a Finno-ugric language it is much more similair to Estonian or Hungarian.

Norwegian today has been heavily influenced by both Danish and German, from the Denmark-Norway times of the 1500s (all the way up until the early 1800s) when Danish was the written language used and taught in Norway, and from the presence of the Hanseatic league in Bergen.

Written Norwegian today still very closely resembles Danish, although spoken is completely different, the accent with which Danish is spoken is often the point of many jokes.

As touched on previously, Norwegian has two written forms and many spoken dialects which differ enormously to written Norwegian. Bokmål is the more common form of written Norwegian and is the version which developed during their times under Denmarks rule, and therefore written Norwegian is extremely similair to written Danish, while Nynorsk (spoken by about 10-15% of the population, at a probable over-estimation) was the newly independent Norwegian governments attempt at revitalizing the language and separating itself a little from Denmark. Interestingly, most spoken dialects are probably closer to Nynorsk than Bokmål.

Anyway, have a look at a basic phrase from the three languages:

Swedish - två svarta katter

Norwegian - to svarte katter

Danish - to sorte katte

The word for 'cats' is almost the same across the board, while the word for 'two' also shows similarities, although Swedish shows a larger difference here to Danish and Norwegian. You can see that the word for 'black' is a little different for each one but still very similair. This is only one example to show how it would be relatively easy to understand eachother despite being three separate languages. I suppose the main difference is in inflections and sentence structure - for example in Norwegian you would be more likely to say (correctly) "the car mine" while in Swedish you would say simply "mine car":

- Bilen Min (Norwegian)
- Min Bil (Swedish)

Anyway, this entry is somewhat boring and a little all over the place, I just felt like mentioning that there are similarities and differences between the languages.

It was proposed once that there should just be one language for all the countries, and in Iceland when they teach Danish as a language they just call it 'Scandinavian' - do you think there should be a merger language for simplicity sake?

Jan 9, 2012


This is going to be the first part of a little series of posts about a few of my choice towns and cities in Norway...


Stavanger is one of my favorite cities in Norway, not only is it beautiful but it holds a lot of history and is in one of the more mild areas of Norway, in terms of weather. Home to the oldest cathedral in Norway (even older than the one in Trondheim), Stavanger is also the centre of the oil industry in Norway, and it is because of this that Stavanger went from a relatively small 'city' into what is currently the fourth largest in Norway, and growing.


Stavanger considers its date of foundation to be the year that the cathedral, Stavanger Domkirke, was completed, 1125, however has a history of settlement said to date back up to ten thousand years. During these times it functioned as a market town for the surrounding areas.

Stavanger Cathedral

It wasn't until the late 1800s, after the end of Danish rule, that Stavanger had any real industry, while it was primarily a fishing and boating town, the herring industry provided much for the towns economy. Stavanger experienced great economic downturn during both World Wars (as did much of the world) and remained relatively slow in growth until the late 1960s with the discovery of off shore oil. As a coastal town, the discovery of oil led to great economic growth, both directly in Stavanger and of course all around Norway.

What to see:

One of the reasons I like Stavanger so much is because it has a very intimate town centre - a large lake straight in the middle, the cathedral, large open spaces down to the waterfront and only a short walk to Old Stavanger (Gamle Stavanger) which is a host of well maintained houses from the 1700's and 1800's. The narrow cobbled streets lead through interesting and beautiful shopfronts and stores all around the city, and it has just that perfect mix of old and new.

Some of the buildings and narrow streets of old Stavanger

Stavanger is also very conveniently located to some of South Norway's most beautiful fjords and hiking areas, most famously Priekestolen and Lysefjorden, which you can either drive to, or take a boat or ferry. Stavanger is also noted for its nearby sandy beaches (although for some it may be considered a little chilly, even in summer, to be going for a swim). 

A view of Priekestolen over the Lysefjord

Stavanger is also home to a number of museums, notably the Petroleum Museum, and the city has become one of Norway's popular tourist destinations due to the availability of things to see and do in and around the city.

Jun 6, 2011

Follow up: May 17th

It's a little late (nearly a month) but I thought i'd quickly post up some pictures of 17th may around the world :)
you don't have to be in Norway to celebrate, there was celebrations in Australia, Singapore, America and even Brasil!