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95 Core Concepts in Norwegian (Bokmål)

What are the most basic, elementary, core concepts that virtually all languages express? Many linguists have put a great deal of effort into answering this question, and several short word lists have come out of it. The most famous are probably the Swadesh lists, based mostly on intuition and refined over time. Later lists like the Leipzig-Jakarta have used more stringent methods to determine which vocabulary items are most resistant to borrowing and change over time.

What I've done here is taken five such word lists (Swadesh 100, Ranked Swadesh 40, Swadesh-Yakhontov, Leipzig-Jakarta, and Woodward) and kept only the items that occur in at least two of the lists. Here is the Norwegian version. Enjoy!

1) name = navn
2) water = vann
3) blood = blod
4) fire = brann
5) stone/rock = stein, sten
6) dog = hund
7) fish = fisk
8) louse/flea = lus, loppe
9) hand/arm = hånd, arm
10) eye = øye
11) ear = øre
12) nose = nese
13) tongue = tunge
14) tooth = tann
15) bone = bein, ben
16) horn = horn
17) tail = hale
18) egg = egg
19) leaf = blad
20) night/evening = natt, kveld
21) star = stjerne
22) sun = sol
23) moon = måne
24) earth/soil = jord
25) salt = salt
26) mountain = fjell
27) tree = tre
28) rain = regn
29) wind = vind
30) bird = fugl
31) flesh/meat = kjøtt
32) liver = lever
33) skin/hide = hud, skinn
34) knee = kne
35) breast/chest = bryst, brystkasse
36) person = person
37) man = mann
38) woman = kvinne, dame, jente
39) child = barn
40) hair/fur = hår, pels
41) mouth= munn
42) neck = hals, nakke
43) foot/leg = fot, bein, ben
44) feather = fjær
45) grease/fat = fett
46) smoke = røyk
47) ash/soot = aske, sot
48) sand = sand
49) wood = tre
50) root = rot
51) rope/cord = tau
52) path/road = sti, vei
53) year = år

54) die = dø
55) see/look/watch = se
56) hear/listen = høre, lytte
57) know = vite, kjenne
58) drink = drikke
59) give = gi
60) come = komme
61) stand = stå
62) sit/set = sitte, sette
63) lie/lay = ligge, legge
64) fly = fly
65) eat = spise
66) bite = bite
67) burn = brenne
68) kill = drepe
69) say/tell/speak/talk = si, fortelle, snakke
70) laugh = le

71) new = ny/nytt/nye
72) full = full/fullt/fulle
73) good = god/godt/gode
74) long = lang/langt/lange
75) red = rød/rødt/røde
76) black = svart/svarte, sort/sorte
77) white = hvit/hvitt/hvite, kvit/kvitt/kvite
78) green = grønn/grønt/grønne
79) yellow = gul/gult/gule
80) small/little = liten/lita/lite/lille/litt, små
81) big/large = stor/stort/store
82) wide/broad = bred/bredt/brede
83) heavy = tung/tungt/tunge
84) old = gammel/gammelt/gamle
85) dry = tørr/tørt/tørre

86) I/me = jeg/eg/meg
87) you = du/deg, dere
88) what/which = hva, hvilken
89) who/whom = hvem
90) one/a/an = en/ein/ei/et/eit
91) two = to
92) not/no = ikke, nei
93) this/these = dette/denne, disse
94) we/us = vi/oss
95) all/everything/everyone = alle, alt

Please let me know if you spot any mistakes here. And if you take this list and translate it into another language, that would be awesome! I'd be sure to give you some lingots! More versions can be found here. (Be sure to check what's been translated already before posting your own.) And if you like this kind of thing, check out my website for more!

November 19, 2015



Let me go ahead correct a few words:

5) stone/rock = sten (stein)

23) moon = måne*

34) knee = kne*

35) breast/chest = bryst, brystkasse ("kiste" is a chest, as in a treasure chest* filled with booteh)

57) know = vite/kjenne (knowing someone)

76) black = sort/svart

80) small/little = liten*

82) wide = bred*

85) dry = tørr (tør* is daring/be brave)



This is the Received Pronunciation. We use BLING out in California.


Thank you for these fixes! Have some lingots!


This list is good revision. Thank you for making this. It was cool to see how I could translate nearly every word on this list (I know they are the basics but still). Some of the nouns were unknown to me.


Thanks, I'm glad you like it! It took me a while to get what you meant by "revision". In the U.S., we say "study" where it sounds like you would say "revise". A "revision" would normally mean a change or a new version to me, so I thought you were talking about @MrNorse's corrections. Those are good too!


Haha! Interesting that it means something completely different in the US. Just shows the variations of English around the world.

  • 77) white = hvit(/kvit) (kvit is allowed, but uncommon)

  • 78) green = grønn

  • 80) small/little = liten

  • 87) you(s.) you(pl.) = du/deg dere (Nobody uses the formal pronouns. Nobody.)


Thanks for the notes! I've seen a little back and forth on the adjectives, and I think it's had to do with the different declensions for gender/number, so I went ahead and included all of those forms. As for "kvit" and "De", no need to include rare forms here.


Just popped by this old tread and will add some comments/corrections.

Kvit is more common in southern and western parts of Norway (disrespect of Bokmål/Nynorsk use) than in Oslo, especially in spoken language and should therefore be included. So I disagree with "fveldig", even though he is a contributor to the Norwegian -Bokmål course here.

De is the formal way and rarely used outside formal letters, and even there it's rarely used anymore.

Other findings:

38) woman = kvinne , dame, (also jente is used in spoken Norwegian)

40) hair/fur = hår, pels (pelsen is "the fur")

77) white = hvit/hvitt/hvite, kvit/kvitt/kvite

80) small/little = liten/lita/lite/lille/litt, små (litt has similar meaning as "a little bit of" or "a small amount of" in English and should therefore be included, e.g. "Det er sølt litt vann på gulvet" - "It has been spilled a small amount of water on the floor)

86) I/me = jeg/meg, eg/meg (The later is Nynorsk, but is common spoken also in areas where bokmål is dominant. You should include it)

90) one/a/an = en/ei/et, ein/ei/eit (The first need to expand to include for all genders. The later is Nynorsk, but is common spoken also in areas where Bokmål is dominant. You should include it)

I've responded mainly based on Norwegian - Bokmål, there are numerous more if I should include for Norwegian - Nynorsk, but for the words widely used in spoken language across the written borderlines, I think they should be included, if only in brackets.

And where is "he", "she" and "it", not to mention the verb "to be"? Common words so easily taken for granted, and forgotten in all your lists. Great work on creating the basis list and to include lists for all the languages anyway.

I'm no linguist, but I contribute in small portions where I can.

  • 1475

Take a look at www.dict.cc EN-NO (and other languages too). In this dictionary you will find all the words mentioned above. Jeg anbefaler ordboken www.dict.cc EN-NO (og andre språk også).


Great site in your link.

My comments were based on "What are the most basic, elementary, core concepts that virtually all languages express?" and "Please let me know if you spot any mistakes here." I've added comment for justification for update. It is a great list that he has fitted for so many languages, not only Norwegian - Bokmål, but also for the others.

PS. I just found out he had included the words I found missing in a second list which has not been translated into Norwegian: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/4664475


Tackling the last comment first, I spell out my methodology for deciding what to include in these lists in the introductory paragraphs. Surprisingly, some of the most common words/concepts are actually not as universal as you'd think, third-person pronouns and the word "be", for example. These concepts are so basic that you don't necessarily need them to be spelled out in words; they can be assumed as a sort of default unspoken pronoun or verb.

Anyway, thanks for all these pointers! I'll have to go through and reconcile them with my list.


Hi, I read your description and were surprised they were not listed. I'm no linguistic so I'll not argue in neither the frequency of words, their importance nor their universality, and yes I'm surprised to learn that these words are not as universal as I thought them to be. I do agree with you that a conversation consist not only of the spoken, but also the unspoken/assumed words, so I'll rest my case.

Great lists anyway.

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