The development of the Norwegian language

Norwegian is a north Germanic language that is spoken by approximately 5 million people in Norway. Speakers of the language can also be found in the US, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, UK, Spain and Canada. Norwegian is closely related to the Danish and Swedish languages and speakers of these languages can be able to understand each other. Norwegian is a daughter language of Old Norse.

Norway was under Swedish and then Danish rule. During this time, Norwegian was still spoken even though Danish was used for official business. Norway gained its independence from Denmark in 1814. However, Danish was still used in schools until the 1830s when it was done away with as Norway wanted its own national language. This resulted in debate on how to go about creating a national language. The result of this was the emergence of 2 languages. This included Landsmål, which was based on colloquial Norwegian and various dialects that were spoken in the region. Riksmål was mainly a written language that was quite similar to Danish. Landsmål was later changed to Nynorsk (New Norwegian) and Riksmål was renamed Bokmål (book language). Currently, a small number of people still use Riksmål. This is mainly people who are 60 years or older. While civil servants are expected to know both Nynorsk or Bokmål, schools can choose to teach either one of the languages. There have been efforts to unify the 2 languages so as to come up with a single standardized Norwegian language. However, these efforts have not been successful so far as the project was officially abandoned in 2002.

Officially, Norway has 3 languages. This includes the 2 variants of Norwegian (Nynorsk and Bokmål) and the Sammi language. Sammi is a group of indigenous languages that are spoken by northern Norway inhabitants. Over 99% of the Norway population speak Norwegian. Finnish is also a minority language that is spoken in Norway. It is closely related to the Sammi language. There are a lot of immigrants and refugees in Norway. This has introduced over 100 mother tongue languages in the country. English is the most widely used foreign language, followed by German and French. Norwegian sign language is also commonly used.

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