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Lesson Transcript

Filip: Hi, I am Filip.
Becky: And I’m Becky. Welcome back to NorwegianClass101.com. This is Lower Beginner, Season 1, Lesson 25 - Can You Understand Norwegian Dialects? In this last lesson of the series, you’ll learn more about Norwegian dialects.
Filip: That’s right. We had our first lesson on dialects in the Absolute Beginner series.
Becky: Continuing on that topic, we’ll look into dialects a bit more, and find out why Norway has so many.
Filip: The conversation is between Kjersti and Trond, a guy from a place called Gjerstad in the southern part of Norway. Trond speaks in the Gjerstad dialect, which has many similarities to the ‘nynorsk’ written language and thus is quite different from what we are used to.
Becky: Okay, let’s listen to the conversation.
Filip: In Norway when we talk about dialects, we usually split them into four main groups - northern Norwegian, trøndersk, western Norwegian, and eastern Norwegian.
Becky: Under these four main groupings there are about 250-500 dialects depending on your definition.
Filip: The commonly believed reason for this large number of dialects is the geographical shape of Norway, as well as the large number of mountainous areas that would have split many communities in terms of communication.
Becky: This theory makes sense when you know that there are dialects that sound totally different, but the communities where they are spoken are separated only by a mountain ridge.
Filip: But when you’re learning Norwegian, it’s not that important to understand each dialect.
Becky: However, understanding that Norwegian is comprised of many dialects will help you understand the irregularities found in some parts of the language.
Filip: In other words, knowing how the dialects differ and why we use them helps explain some of the Norwegian you can’t learn but might experience.
Becky: Exactly. Now let’s move on to the vocab.
Becky: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Filip: There are many verbs that have the same infinitive form in dialects, but end up with different present tense or past tense conjugations. ‘å være’, which means “to be”, is one of those verbs.
Becky: In our vocab list, it is in the infinitive, but in our dialogue it is conjugated as ‘e’. Let’s look at an example.
Filip: Eg e tørst
Becky: “I am thirsty”
Filip: The phrase ‘lenge sia’ or ‘lenge siden’ is equivalent to the English “long time since...” The phrase ‘lenge sia sist’ literally translates to...
Becky: “Long time since last time”. But alone it can mean “long time no see”.
Filip: The same goes for the word ‘stund’ which means “while” as in “a while”. You can say ‘en stund sia sist.’ This essentially means the same as ‘lenge sia sist’. And it translates as...
Becky: “A while since last time”. You might notice that the “time” part is missing in the Norwegian sentence.
Filip: This is because you can either include or omit it. If you include it, the above sentence would be ‘en stund sia sist gang’. Here, ‘gang’ means “time”.
Becky: Ok, now let’s move on to the grammar.

Lesson focus

Becky: In this lesson, you’ll learn about dialects.
Filip: We’ll be looking at some key elements that make the differences so daunting.
Becky: In our dialogue we had Trond, who speaks with the Gjerstad dialect. It’s a dialect from southern Norway, but it doesn’t sound like many of the other dialects from that area.
Filip: It actually sounds more like it would belong to somewhere in western Norway.
Becky: Non-native speakers might not notice this, but it’s a great example of how diverse Norwegian dialects can be.
Filip: The sentence ‘Hei Kjersti, håssen står e til?’ which means “Hi Kjersti, how are you?” is not an accepted written form.
Becky: If they were to write this in Gjerstad, they would use the ‘bokmål’ form, even though their dialect sounds much closer to ‘nynorsk’.
Filip: The difference between ‘bokmål’ and ‘nynorsk’ deserves its own lesson series, because it’s just as complex as ‘bokmål’!
Becky: But to make an easy distinction between the two written languages, we can say that ‘bokmål’ is the most common official written language, and it has its roots in Danish.
Filip: And ‘nynorsk’ is less common but still an official language, and its roots can be traced back to the different dialects of Norway not spoken in or near the capital.
Becky: That is why most dialects end up sounding more like ‘nynorsk’ than ‘bokmål’.
Filip: Let’s go back to the sentence we mentioned in our dialogue. If we were to compare this with the dialect we have already learned...
Becky: ...we’d see that there are some major differences in the vocabulary. Let’s hear them.
Filip: ‘Hei Kjersti, håssen står e til.’ This is less common in the Oslo dialect. Now compare this to ‘Hei Kjersti, hvordan går det?’ or ‘Hei Kjersti, hvordan står det til?’ This is more common in the Oslo dialect.
Becky: But both can be used, and the latter is word for word how Trond said it in his dialect.
Filip: We can see that the words ‘håssen’ and ‘hvordan’, as well as ‘e’ and ‘det’, are different.
Becky: The hardest part of any Norwegian dialect is the changing vocabulary. This makes it difficult even for Norwegians to understand some dialects, if they are unfamiliar with the vocabulary being used.
Filip: But ‘E’ and ‘det’ on the other hand is just a matter of slang. Most Norwegians are familiar with these in any dialect.
Becky: You will often find that Norwegians contract a lot of the words in a sentence into one seemingly long word.
Filip: For example, saying ‘ståretil’ is much quicker and more efficient than saying ‘står det til’. Unfortunately, this makes it hard for people who are trying to learn Norwegian. ‘ståretil...’
Becky: ...translates to “how are you doing?” as part of the sentence above.
Filip: Which was ‘hvordan står det til?’ literally meaning “how is it standing” or “how are you?”
Becky: Besides learning the vocabulary of a dialect, there isn’t much you can do to increase your understanding of it.
Filip: But there is some slang that’s common to most dialects, and learning it doesn’t necessarily involve learning new words.
Becky: Yes, it’s more about how they are combined to make quicker sentences.
Filip: In the second sentence that Trond says, he’s using two of the slang words. ‘Det e lenge sia enn har sjått inaen’.
Becky: Which translates as “long time no see”. But this is not a direct translation. A direct translation would sound more like “It’s a long time since one has seen each other.”
Filip: The slang words in this sentence are ‘e’ meaning “is”, and ‘sia’ meaning “since”. You will even find people in Oslo using this slang. To compare them with the bokmål version, ‘e’ is ‘er’ and ‘sia’ is ‘siden’.
Becky: Let’s look at some more examples of slang that you’ll find in both remote dialects, and the Oslo dialect that you are so familiar with.
Filip: ‘Hvoran gåre?’ and ‘Hvordan går det?’
Becky: “How are you?”
Filip: ‘Skarru blimepå kino?’ and ‘Skal du bli med på kino?’
Becky: “Do you want to come to the cinema?”
Filip: ‘Jeg ække så glairæ’ and ‘Jeg er ikke så glad i deg’
Becky: “I am not that fond of you”
Filip: Now, most of these would have some vocabulary changes if you were to translate them into some of the more extreme dialects. Often, ‘jeg’ meaning “I” is replaced by ‘eg’ or ‘æ’ for example. And ‘ikke’ meaning “not” is replaced with ‘ikkje’.
Becky: But these ways of contracting sentences to make them quicker and easier to pronounce, are something that most dialects have in common.
Filip: Knowing some of this common slang will also go a long way in helping you understand any Norwegian you meet, because most Norwegians tend to use this slang while speaking.


Becky: Great, I think that’s enough for this final lesson in our Lower Beginner Series.
Filip: We hope you had fun learning about different aspects of the Norwegian language.
Becky: You can always listen to any part of this series again, or you can move on to the more complex lessons we have in store for you.
Filip: Takk for oss. Hade!
Becky: Thanks for listening everyone, and we’ll see you in another series. Bye!