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Lesson Transcript

Jasmine: Hi everyone, Jasmine here.
Filip: Hi, and I´m Filip.
Jasmine: This is All About series lesson 1. The top-five reasons to learn Norwegian. Together we´ll be your guides to everything Norwegian.
Filip: That´s right! This first lesson is all about my home and native country.
Jasmine: I´ve grown very fond of Norway through the years. I´m originally from Sweden, but as you all may know, Sweden and Norway has a lot of similarities both cultural and language.
Filip: Yeah, they do, but there are a lot of differences as well.
Jasmine: Yes, of course.
Filip: Norway has great scenery and is famous for the great difference in climate between North and South. And whether visiting there or living there, Norway is a multi-cultural country so no matter your background you will always find somebody from your own country.
Jasmine: I think most of our listeners would be surprised at how unique Norway actually is.
Filip: So, Jasmine, give me some statistics about Norwegian. Some hard numbers our listeners can impress people with.
Jasmine: Well…
Filip: Well… ? That wasn't the answer I was expecting.
Jasmine: Well, there aren't that many impressive numbers if that's what you want. I mean five million people speaking it?! That's why we're here isn't it!?
Filip: Oh, yeah, to help more people speak Norwegian!
Jasmine: Yes. Other than that, what can I say? Norwegian is two languages.
Filip: Two languages?
Jasmine: Exactly! Norwegian has two official languages.
Filip: Which means it's hard to learn Norwegian is it?
Jasmine: Not really. I mean, you only need to learn one of them to get around. And if you learn one of them, you'll also be able to understand Swedish and Danish... How cool is that!?
Filip: Well, that's certainly helpful. I mean, three languages in one package?
Jasmine: Yep, isn´t it great?
Filip: Anyway why don't we talk a bit about Norway and Norwegian linguistics then to get a bit of an introduction.
Jasmine: Sure. Let's start off with Norway being a monarchy.
Filip: A monarchy. That means Norway has a king!?
Jasmine: Yes, and a Prime Minister. The king doesn't really hold that much power anymore, yet he is the country's national symbol.
Filip: I see, but aren't Sweden and Denmark monarchies too?
Jasmine: That's correct. And their history goes way back.
Filip: Right. Like during the time of the Vikings when there were no borders, only villages with chiefs. Then during 1022 Harald Hårfagre united the country in the name of Christianity.
Jasmine: Yes. Isn't that when Iceland also was made and the Danish united with the French?
Filip: Almost. However, it was at that time that the languages in the north started to separate and become more localized. For example, Denmark was influenced by French and German and included a lot of those languages into their own. At the same time Norse evolved into middle Norse which is very close to how Norwegian is today.
Jasmine: Interesting. Now, I find this historical aspect of linguistics fascinating but I won't go into too many details. Basically, Norwegian as we know it today is the result of German, Danish, and English influence on the old Norse.
Filip: That's true. I've noticed it's pretty easy to pick up other Germanic languages like... German!
Jasmine: That's right. A bit more detail about the history is that the Hanseatic trade was prospering between Norway and Germany. And at the same time Norway was in a union with Denmark and Sweden.
Filip: So that's how Norwegians can easily understand both Danish and Swedish and easily learn German and English!?
Jasmine: Exactly. When it comes to English Norwegians have always had a good relationship with the British and borrowed from each other's languages time and time again.
Filip: Interesting…I didn't know all of that.
Jasmine: Yeah, actually it was all thanks to the Vikings who dared to invade and explore far away territories. They even went as far as America but there is no evidence of them picking up the language.
Filip: Speaking about discoveries. A discovery most people will make when studying Norwegian is the vast amount of dialects that exist.
Jasmine: That's right, and not to say the difference between them can be quite confusing at first.
Filip: Not to be afraid though, knowing the basic dialect is more than good enough to get around in Norway and live there. Knowing a dialect or two is just for fun.
Jasmine: But, how do they understand each other, two people who speak different dialects?
Filip: Well, sometimes they don't. I have stumbled upon quite a few times when I've been thinking Swedish is closer to my language than this.
Jasmine: Talking about Swedish... How easy is it for Swedes and Norwegians to understand each other? Or for that matter, Danes and Norwegians?
Filip: Norwegians tend to understand Swedish and Danish quite easily, even written. However, the other way around is not always the case. Norwegian laid both Danish and Swedish as a basis for the language, creating a one-way bridge between both languages.
Jasmine: I see, so Swedish and Danish was kind of growing separately from Norwegian making them almost unintelligible to each other, and Norwegian was the evolved language. So what about Finnish?
Filip: Haha, yeah, one has to draw a line somewhere. In fact, Finnish and Icelandic are so different from the Scandinavian languages that they are almost unintelligible to each other. Yet Finnish people seem to understand Swedish quite well.
Jasmine: Well, that´s because Finnish people learn Swedish in school. I have listened to and read a lot Norwegian. I can tell that the pronunciation and the writing system are quite different from each other.
Filip: Correct, since the recognition of the two official languages, the writing system has not evolved much. However, the pronunciation has taking on many changes. The differences are even larger with the dialects being incorporated.
Filip: Even so, Norwegians are struggling to keep up with the pronunciation and have even started to accept writing in their own dialect.
Jasmine: That's why we have a pronunciation series that will guide you through the basics of Norwegian.
Filip: So, how about a bit more information about Norway?
Jasmine: Tell us what you know.
Filip: Well, Norway is located in Northern Europe. The Norwegians are neighbors of Swedes, Finnish, and Russians. But we're also coast to coast with Britain and Denmark. Norway is most famous for the Vikings and probably the oil. We are not so famous for the cheese shredder.
Jasmine: Norway has seen a lot of change in the country. From being recognized for their naval abilities as Vikings, to being the underdog in three unions and even occupied, to becoming one of the leading nations in wealth, scientific research, and welfare.
Filip: That's right. Norway has witnessed a lot of change but what has never changed is that Norway has always been a monarchy and will continue to be one for years to come.
Jasmine: But, what of its citizens: being only five million isn't going to keep the nation going.
Filip: Well, Norwegians seem to understand that and therefore immigrating to Norway has become quite easy and practical.
Jasmine: Yes, Norway is seeing a great increase in foreigners coming to find happiness in the country.
Who can resist the lure of Norwegian?
Jasmine: Exactly! So, the top five reasons to learn Norwegian are…
Filip: Number five…
Jasmine: For English speakers, Norwegian is one of the easier languages to learn. Many words are similar if not the same. Take "bag" for example. It is originally a Norwegian word and sounds almost exactly the same as in English. Furthermore, Norwegians are very skilled in English, the reason travel is not mentioned here. In fact, Norwegians use English so often in their daily lives that some words have been added to the Norwegian language. "Sorry" is one of them.
Filip: Number four…
Jasmine: Norway has a rich culture. The Norwegian history, literature, and traditions are great studies for a culturally interested person. Much of it is not translated and thus learning Norwegian is a plus.
Jasmine: Number three...
Filip: Make powerful friends from all over the world. And Norway is one of the countries with much influence in this world. Not only is it a country made rich on oil finds, it also has some of the most advanced technology research within the military. And it is also the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, the annual nomination of people who contribute to peace.
Filip: Number two...
Jasmine: Best country in the world! That's right. Or so the U.N. Human Development Index will have it. Norway tops the charts as the best country to live in. You better believe it. They say being born Norwegian is like winning a lottery ballot.
Jasmine: And the number one reason is?
Filip: Learning Norwegian is fun!
Jasmine: Of course it is! With our lessons we will show you the easiest way to get the most out of Norwegian culture and make new Norwegian friends!
Filip: Definitely!
Jasmine: Okay everybody, are you ready? Get out your pen and notebook, grab your iPhone, fire up your computer, and whatever else you use to study - and get ready for some Norwegian lessons from NorwegianClass101.com!