Latest from the blog

Posted on30 August 2018

Atlas Translations: Translation into Norwegian

Translation into Norwegian

Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken by the 5.2 million inhabitants of the Scandinavian nation of Norway (and, surprisingly, 0.4% of people in the American state of North Dakota!). It shares many similarities with other Scandinavian languages such as Danish and Swedish. These similarities allow speakers of different languages to converse without much difficulty. There are many different local dialects of Norwegian, and the history of the language is both complex and fascinating.

Norwegian, Translation into Norwegian, Atlas Translations, London, Herts, St Albans, Clare Suttie

History of Norwegian

Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages, most notably Danish, are irrevocably linked, having been almost indistinguishable until recent centuries. The language spoken by the Vikings and other inhabitants of the Scandinavian peninsula in the first millennium AD was known as Norse, written using a runic alphabet. However, as the Vikings spread across northern Europe, the original Old Norse language was lost. In the 11th century, Christianity arrived in Scandinavia and Norwegian languages adopted the Latin script.

In the late 1300s, Denmark and Norway became one country. During this union, Danish was spoken in official circumstances, but Norwegian dialects were still used by much of the rural population. When Norway became independent in 1814, a wave of nationalism soon followed. The Norwegian nationalists wanted to distinguish their language from the tongue of the neighbouring Danes. This led to different written forms of Norwegian being developed, which are still in use today.

Norwegian linguist Ivar Aasen travelled around Norway on a quest to derive a Norwegian language representative of the varied dialects across the country. The result of his efforts was known as ‘Landsmål’, and which later became known as ‘Nynorsk’. However, his approach was rejected by much of Norway’s urban populace, who decided to introduce some Norwegian words into the Danish language that was already used in Norway. This written form became known as ‘Bokmål’.

Although there were attempts during the 20th century to unify the two languages into one tongue, none succeeded. The confusing part about all of this is that both these languages are different versions of written Norwegian, but there are many varied regional dialects in Norway that differ from them. In modern times, the majority of Norway writes using the Bokmål form and a minority writes using Nynorsk. However, the spoken language used by a majority of Norwegians actually has more similarities to Nynorsk, as this language was derived from the regional dialects that are still used today!

Norwegian Influence on English

The Vikings ruled parts of Britain for hundreds of years, first invading in 793 AD. During this time, the Scandinavian language had a large influence on the language that would eventually turn into modern English. Norway being a very cold country, many of the winter activities and words associated with winter in English are of Norwegian origin. These include skiing, slalom and fjord.

Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings, has had a huge influence on the English language. In fact, you probably use a particular word of Norse origin all the time – the word ‘Thursday’ is directly descended from the Norse God, Thor. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday also could have Norse origin, but it is thought that they are descended from names of Anglo-Saxon Gods.

The Vikings were known for their bloodthirsty pillaging, so it’s no surprise either that many violent words can be traced back to Norse. Berserk (berserkr), club (klubba), slaughter (slatra) and knife (knifr) are all examples of the deadly Viking lexicon.

While Norway is a relatively small country, and it’s language is not well-known outside of Scandinavia, it is most certainly a beautiful and important language. This is especially pertinent for native English speakers, who cannot ignore the shared history of the two languages, and of other similar North European tongues. This makes it a fantastic language to study and learn!

ATC – Full membership of the ATC (Association of Translation Companies).

CIEP – Corporate membership of the CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) since 1993.

Corporate membership of the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting) since 1994. Corporate Member of the Year 2021.

ISO 17100 – ISO 17100:2017 for Translation Services (since this standard began, in 2008, externally audited annually).

ISO 9001 – BS EN ISO 9001:2015 (certified since 2003, externally audited annually).

Living wage employer – As a living wage employer, we believe our staff deserve a wage which meets every day needs.

Mindful employer

Mindful employer – We are a mindful employer, working toward achieving better mental health at work.


Disability confident committed – We are Disability Confident Committed, ensuring our recruitment, communications and support are inclusive and accessible.

4-day week

4-day week employer since 2019


Good Business Charter Member since 2022

The Slator Language Service Provider Index (LSPI) is a ranking and an index of the world’s largest translation, localization, interpreting, and language technology companies.


The Patient Information Forum promotes access to trusted and high-quality health information for the public and healthcare professionals.

Federation of Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

Member of the Federation of Small Businesses and the Self-Employed

Prompt Payment Code

Signatory of the Prompt Payment Code since 2023.

Accredited with the Fair Tax Foundation since February 2024