1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Norwegian (Bokmål)
  4. >
  5. Is it true that Norwegians do…


Is it true that Norwegians don't like it when tourists speak in Norwegian?

May 24, 2015



I'm curious: Why do you think so? Who told you this?


No, we love it!

What happens is that we switch to English in a misguided attempt to be helpful or polite, or just for ease of communication. If you'd rather continue the conversation in Norwegian, then just say so. :)


Jeg er beroliget, han skremte meg haha


I met a Swedish person the other day and asked something similar - whether people in Sweden wouldn't just speak English back to me, despite my attempts to engage them in Swedish. He said that they do like it when foreigners speak the language, but they love speaking English and want to show off their skills. And that basically you don't have to worry about making mistakes, the people can understand despite little mistakes and don't mind or take it amiss. He was probably 17-19.


Haha it's something very misleading for anyone who learns Norwegian. The locals try to be helpful and speak English if they hear that you speak with an accent, but come off as rude instead, since the language learners automatically assume that their Norwegian is really bad(while it's often not the case). Besides, it creates a very awkward situation where the Norwegian learners are lost and don't really know how to switch back(asking to keep the conversation in Norwegian is easier said than done), and the easiest way is to continue the conversation in English. As a result, the poor Norwegian learners are discouraged from trying again, and just speak English instead. So, if you learn Norwegian and speak it well, but locals switch to English because they hear that you're not a native speaker, my best advice would be acting as confident as possible. If you look like speaking Norwegian is the most natural thing on the planet for you, people will think that it actually is and they won't switch to English(fake it till you make it, as they say). And dear native speakers, please be careful with this, you may not realize it, but it can offend people :) PS I guess the main reason for this is that Norwegians don't expect anyone to learn their language, and might not have encountered any non-native speakers before at all. That happens a lot less in countries with more popular languages, such as French, German etc.


Why would they dislike it? I'm a native Portuguese speaker, myself, and I'm delighted when tourists risk a few words in it... unless they mistakenly speak Spanish instead. xD


I guess we take it as a token of respect.


And I guess the whole situation changes when you try to actually live and work in Norway. Though Norwegians have a reputation of being quite nice in that regard, in contrast to Danish or Germans.


I don't think that anyone here DISLIKES it when tourists speak Norwegian! I think it's more that if they see you struggling, they're likely to try to make the communication easier by speaking English instead. I think it's a misguided attempt at being polite, because basically everyone speaks fantastic English.


This is not the case. The thing is in a lot of Germanic speaking countries (I've noticed) is they are very eager to use English with people who speak English. This is not true in romance countries, except for maybe France/Italy (not sure). In Brazil/Portugal it is kind of hard to find someone who will prefer to speak English because your Portuguese will probably be better than their English. In Spain I believe this will happen too.

As Deliciae said, if you want to talk to them in their native language, you have to tell them.


It's been said that the French, and Parisians in particular, aren't crazy about non-native speakers of French, although I think that is changing. I do know people who've experienced friendly Frenchmen when they try out French with them. Italians are very at ease with non-native speakers. Italians tend to be very comfortable in their own skin and relaxed anyway, which makes speaking Italian with them a treat. Spanish speakers tend to be comfortable too. Asian people are so shocked when someone speaks their language that they get really happy and excited when you try out a few words with them. This is my experience, others may differ, and that's fine. People are different everywhere.


I'm a native French Canadian, and when I was in Paris some of the locals I talked to at cafes or other public places would speak to me in English, because they wouldn't "accept" my French Canadian accent! I couldn't believe it !!(and don't worry, I'm not generalizing here, I know all French people are not like that!!)


I've heard that Turkish people are very happy when you speak Turkish with them.


Most people are very happy if a tourist tries to communicate in the local language. Like others here have said, the problem is when they want to practice their own foreign language skills on you.


Here is a youtube video talking a bit about immigration to Norway. I remember she said that learning Norwegian was very helpful in getting a job in Norway. Which is hardly surprising.



I'm guessing that you've forgotten to attach a link to the video :P


Est-ce vous êtes américain ou un autre nationalité?


Je suis américain.


Comment étudies-tu l'anglais si tu es americain?

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