Norway

Norwegian is the most spoken and official language of Norway. Belonging to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages, it is closely related to Danish and Swedish. Norwegian is spoken by nearly 95% of the population of Norway as a first language.

The two written standards of Norwegian are Nynorsk and Bokmål. Nynorsk (previously known as Landsmål), was voted by parliament in 1885 as one of the official languages of Norway. It is the official language of four of the country’s counties that make up the Western Norway region, but is currently spoken as the main form of Norwegian by less than 8% of the Norwegian population due to the decline in its usage over the years. Nynorsk is taught to around 15% of the children at schools as a written language. A more conservative form of Nynorsk is called Høgnorsk.

Bokmål, as opposed to Nynorsk, is used as the written language by 80 to 90% of the country’s population. It is based on a more conservative standard also known as the Riksmål, however the name Bokmål has been used since 1929.

Sami is a Uralic language spoken by the indigenous Sami people of Northern Scandinavia. The Sami group of languages is officially recognized and protected in Norway. A small section of Sami speakers continue to speak the Sami languages at home, despite the fact that most Sami speakers have adopted other languages as their first language. Around 15,000 Norwegians speak North Sami, while Lule Sami and South Sami are spoken by about 500 and 300 speakers in Norway, respectively.

The Kven language is spoken by around 5,000 to 8,000 people in the northeast of Norway. Kven is a Finnic language which is often regarded as a dialect of Finnish due to the high degree of mutual similarities between the two languages. Kven is mainly spoken in the Finnmark country and the Tromsø municipality of Norway.

The minority languages spoken in Norway include Romani, which is one of the major minority languages of Norway, spoken by the Romani people in the country. The Romani language is a language spoken by a nomadic group of the Romani people whose origins are traced to northern India. The Romani language is closely related to the languages spoken in northern India, and is classified as an Indo-Aryan language. As the Romani people have a nomadic lifestyle, there is no particular area of Norway that can be claimed as a Romani-speaking region. There are two main dialects of Romani spoken in Norway, the Vlax Romani spoken by about 500 speakers and Tavringer Romani with about 6,000 speakers in Norway. Another minority language spoken in Norway is the Norwegian Traveller language or Rodi, which is spoken by the Norwegian Traveller gypsy population in Norway. This language has close relations to the Norwegian language but with significant influences from Rotwelsch and Northern Romani. The exact number of speakers of this language in Norway is not known. Other minority languages of Norway include Swedish, Finnish and Russian, spoken by ethnic Swedes, Finns and Russians who speak their mother tongues within the country.

Foreign languages spoken in Norway include English, Spanish, German and French. Some schools in the countries also offer classes in Russian, Latin, Japanese, Italian and Chinese. Norway is among the five top nations in the English Proficiency Index, with nearly 90% of the population being able to speak English, most of which actually speak English fluently.

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