This is the next post in a series on the great Norwegian language struggle between Bokmål and Nynorsk. Click here to read the background post and here to read the first part of Bryce’s conversion guide… here is part two. Enjoy, share and comment 🙂
You didn’t think it would be as easy as throwing a few “j”’s around a bit and doubling some letters did you? Sorry peeps, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Let’s start with three changes which are pretty easy to understand: “kv” → “hv”, “mn” → “vn”, and “k(n)” → “g(n)”.
Now comes the tricky(-er) part – the magical letter g. Yeah, magical. ‘Cause not only does it transform instelf into vowels, it can even make itself disappear. The general transformations are “g” → “i” after a vowel like “e”; “g” → “y” after a vowel like “ø”; and “g” → “Oh my god, it’s disappeared!” after the vowel combination “ei”.
|Høgre||Høyre||Right (as in not left)|
Diphthongs and Common Vowel Alterations
Diphthongs are two vowels that come together beside each other in total harmony to make a new and peaceful tomorrow. English is full of diphthongs (house, coin, liar, liar, pants on fire), but none of these are as awesome as the Modern Norwegian diphthongs which go all the way back to the bloody Vikings! Rock and Roll!
Did you wake up this morning thinking you could excited about diphthongs? Me neither. But here are the three Viking vowel combinations, and their Bokmål equivalents: “ei” → “e”, “øy” → “ø”, “au” → “ø”. Let’s confuse ourselves with examples.
|Å løyse||Å løse||To loosen|
|Å høyre||Å høre||To hear|
Maybe you noticed that most people write stein in Bokmål, and that sten is an optional, secondary spelling. You’re right! Bokmål is a bit inconsistent with how it chooses to represent these viking vowels, but you’re just going to have to live with it 🙁
In addition to the diphthongs, the Modern Norwegian “u” often corresponds to Bokmål “o”, and Modern Norwegian “o” can correspond to one of “a” , “å”, or “u”. I don’t really know the rules for when you choose one or the other (there probably aren’t any), but I think it’s enough just to be aware that there are these possibilities.
Unfortunately, Modern Norwegian and Bokmål don’t have the same inflections. Fortunately, they’re pretty similar, and it’s much much much much much much much easier going from Modern Norwegian to Bokmål than it is the other way around. The basic rules are: “ar” → “er”, “ane” → “ene”, “are” → “ere”, “ast” → “est”. Pretty easy. Of course, nothing can be completely easy, so I’m going to explain two of the more common irregularities (the others you can just learn as you come across them).
In Bokmål, if I wanted to write “the houses” or “the ships” I would write “husene” and “skipene”. In Modern Norwegian, these words are written “husa” and “skipa”, so the “a” here corresponds to “ene” in Bokmål. However, not every “a” at the end of a word should be changed to “ene”, because Modern Norwegian always writes feminine words as feminine, so “jenta” and “boka” would be “the girl” and “the book” (which you will recognise from Bokmål”, and so should be left as they are.
Well, this is a long post, but we’re nearing the end now. Good on you for sticking it out so far. This is the last section, and just covers some sundry items that I didn’t cover elsewhere, so be prepared for an eclectic mix of jazz, verbs, and third items.
In Modern Norwegian there are these verbs which don’t end in -r in the present tense. Instead, they either have a different form (like how Bokmål å vite → vet), or the stem is used by itself. So, Bokmål trenger, sitter, kommer (needs, sits, comes) are written treng, sit, kjem in Modern Norwegian.
A very common phrase in Modern Norwegian is “Me sjåast” – see you later. It’s made up of “me”, which means “we”, “å sjå” which is “å se” in Bokmål, and “-ast” which is the passive. In Bokmål, this would be “vi sees”.
In Modern Norwegian, “han” (he) and “ho” (she) are used instead of “den” (it) when referring to an object. So if you see “Eg likte filmen. Eg likte han også.”, then “han” here refers to the film (since it’s film-en, masculine), and not some dude.
Pronouns in Modern Norwegian all different and confusing, so here’s a chart of the more different and confusing ones.
|Han||Han, Ham||He, Him|
|Ho||Hun, Henne||She, Her|
|Dei||De, Dem||They, Them|
|Dykk||Dere||You (plural, object)|
What I’ve covered so far isn’t going to be enough for you to actually write Modern Norwegian (if you want to do that, buy the book Norwegian Nynorsk by Peter Hallaråker), and it’s not a complete overview of the differences, but it’s enough to stop you from being so confused about things. If you ever come across a word in Modern Norwegian that you don’t know, then the dictionaries at lexin.no (Nynorsk → Bokmål, Nynorsk → Engelsk) will give you a helping hand.
Okay, I think I’m going to lie down now.