Language focus | 27.04.2010

Should you choose bokmål or nynorsk?

Until the beginning of the twentieth century written Norwegian was almost identical to Danish. The spoken language was always different, with its own dialects, but because of the political union of Norway and Denmark (from 1380 to 1814) there was a strong Danish influence on the written language. This influence continued after 1814, when Norway came under Swedish rule, but with independence in 1905 there was a general feeling that a Norwegian written language was needed. Gradually, two separate written forms evolved: bokmål (“book language”), which is still fairly close to Danish, and nynorsk (“new Norwegian”), which is based on the dialects spoken in the south-western part of Norway. Both forms are taught in schools, but bokmål is used by far more people than nynorsk – 85% vs. 15%.

Before arranging the Norwegian translation of your promotional material it is worth considering which part of Norway you are targeting, and then tailor your language choice accordingly. The Translation People will be happy to source translators for both forms of Norwegian, depending on the requirements.

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