Language Section Number: 372

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The Norwegian language is a Germanic language, spoken by about 5 million people in Norway and another million in the other Scandinavian countries and North America.

Norwegian stems from Old Norse. Today it is mutually intelligible with modern Danish and Swedish.There are two official forms of Norwegian: bokmål and nynorskBokmål was greatly influenced by Danish, which was the dominant language when Norway was under Danish rule (1397–1814). Nynorsk stems from the native Norwegian dialects that evolved from Old Norse (uninfluenced by Danish), and it is therefore very different from bokmål. Developed by Ivar Aasen, nynorsk was introduced by him in 1853 as part of a nationalistic desire to have a purely Norwegian language for the country. It is based on rural dialects and spoken principally in rural areas.

Both bokmål and nynorsk are employed by the government, the schools, and the mass media, but bokmål is by far the more widely used of the two, especially in education and literature. Norwegian grammar is fairly simple. The form of the noun is changed only to indicate possession and the plural, and personal inflection of the verb has been discarded. Like Swedish, Norwegian uses pitch accents, but to a lesser degree. The pitch accents give the language a musical quality and are sometimes employed to distinguish the meanings of homonyms. Norwegian employs the Roman alphabet, which was introduced in Norway in the 11th cent. and to which three characters, æ,ø, and å,have been added.

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