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Βokmål and Nynorsk

What is the difference between Βokmål and Nynorsk?

August 17, 2015



Bokmål (book-language) was created based on a combination of the Norwegian, Danish and German that the public offices and their employees, upper class citizens and merchants used/adopted during half a millennium under Danish and Swedish rule and trade with foreign countries.

Nynorsk (new-Norwegian) was created as an alternative to the foreign Danish and based on a combination of the rural dialects that the creator of Nynorsk meant was the original and pure Norwegian language.

Both bokmål and nynorsk are official written languages only. Not many in Norway speak anything that follows either of them 100 %. During the years after their creation there have been several attempts to assimilate and merge them, but all attempts have failed. Although, through several spelling reforms both of them are less radical than they originally were. But you can find unofficial variants (høgnorsk and riksmål) that remove many of the choices you have in both bokmål and nynorsk when it comes to choosing words, spelling and gender. Using these unofficial variants might make it easier in remembering words and spellings since you are not given choices, but you will (in my opinion) sound like a spoiled upper class brat if you stick to them.

Anyway, roughly 4/5 of Norway's population use bokmål when writing, rest use nynorsk.

The main differences are the use of allowed words and spelling of the words. Where bokmål uses words with Norwegianized spelling with origins from Danish, Low-German (old German), Swedish, English and whatnot, many of these words are not allowed in nynorsk. Instead nynorsk tends to often use the words that have its origin in old Norse.

nynorsk has a strict 3-gender system on the nouns. In bokmål the 3-gender system is optional as you can use the 2-gender variant. In addition there are several spelling rules that makes them differ, for example more use of -a- in nynorsk where bokmål uses -e-. More diphthongs in the spelling of words, etcetc.

Wikipedia page on Norwegian


Bokmål is general , official language of the Norway . But Nynorsk (in other words "New Norwegian") is regional/radical . For example , Azeri Turkish and Turkey Turkish have different names , all Azeris and Turkishs are same Turk , their languages have some different words and they are different idioms . But Azeri Turks and Turkey Turks can understand each other . Same here for Nynorsk and Bokmål .


For example :

Bokmål : Jeg kommer fra Norge . (I'm from Norway)

Nynorsk : Eg kjem frå Noreg . (I'm from Norway)

It's okay If you want to learn Bokmål . Cause Bokmål is official . Everyone learn the Bokmål . You can understand Nynorsk If you become fluent in Bokmål Norwegian . Infact , you can understand Swedish and Danish people .


Learn Norwegian (Bokmål) in just 5 minutes a day. For free.