What Languages Are Spoken In Norway?

"Do you speak Norwegian?" written on a chalkboard in Norwegian.
"Do you speak Norwegian?" written on a chalkboard in Norwegian.

Norwegian is the official and most spoken language of Norway. The Nynorsk and Bokmål are the two written standards of Norwegian. Sami and Kven are spoken by Norwegians residing in specific regions of the country. The ethnic Swedes, Finns, Russians, and Romanis of Norway speak their native languages in the country. English is the most popular foreign language spoken in Norway.

The Official Languages Of Norway

Norwegian is the official language of Norway. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages. It is closely related to Danish and Swedish. Norwegian is spoken as a first language by nearly 95% of the population of Norway. The Nynorsk and the Bokmål are the two written standards of the Norwegian language.


Nynorsk was known as Landsmål in the past and was voted as one of the official languages of Norway by the parliament in 1885. The name changed to Nynorsk in 1929. The linguist Ivar Aasen is credited with the establishment of the Landsmål language standard in the mid-19th century. The language is the official language of four of the country’s counties that comprise the Western Norway region. The usage of Nynorsk has declined over the years and is currently spoken as the main form of Norwegian by only 7.4% of the Norwegian population. The language is taught to 15% of the schoolchildren as a written language. Høgnorsk is a more conservative variety of Nynorsk.


Nearly 80 to 90% of the population of Norway use Bokmål as the written language. The language is based on a more conservative standard known as the Riksmål. The name Bokmål has been used since 1929.


Sami, a Uralic language, is spoken by the indigenous Sami people of Northern Scandinavia. Although most Sami speakers have adopted other languages as their first language, a small section continues to speak the Sami languages at home. In Norway, several varieties of Sami are spoken. North Sami is spoken by about 15,000 Norwegians in the country. Lule Sami and South Sami are spoken by about 500 and 300 speakers in Norway, respectively. The Sami languages are officially recognized and protected in the country.


The Kven language is spoken by about 5,000 to 8,000 people in northeastern Norway. It is a Finnic language that is often regarded as a dialect of Finnish due to the high degree of mutual intelligibility with Finnish. The language is spoken mainly in the Finnmark country and Tromsø municipality of Norway.

The Minority Languages Of Norway


The Romani is one of the major minority languages of Norway. The language is spoken by the Romani people in the country. These people are descendants of people from India and their language belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family. Two dialects of Romani are spoken in Norway. The Vlax Romani has about 500 speakers and Tavringer Romani has about 6,000 speakers in Norway. Since the Romanis are a wandering group of people, there is no particular geographic location in the country that can be claimed as a Romani-speaking region.

Norwegian Traveller

The Norwegian Traveller language or Rodi is spoken by the Norwegian Traveller gypsy population in Norway. The language is s closely related to Norwegian but with a significant influence from Rotwelsch and Northern Romani. Although the exact number of speakers of this language in Norway is not known, it is considered to be a language that is still alive.

Other Minority Languages Of Norway

Ethnic Swedes, Finns, and Russians living in Norway also speak their mother tongues, namely Swedish, Finnish, and Russian, respectively, as their first language.

Foreign Languages Spoken In Norway

Norway is one of the top 5 nations in the EF English Proficiency Index. Nearly 90% of the population of the country can speak English. English is also the most widely taught foreign language in the schools of the country. Most people of the country, especially those born after World War II, speak English fluently. Other popular foreign languages spoken in the country are German, Spanish, and French. These languages are taught as second or third languages in the country’s schools. Some schools in the country, mostly in the cities, offer classes in Russian, Latin, Japanese, Italian, and Chinese.


More in Society