All you need to know about Norwegian translations

Published on 16/08/2021

Norwegian is a Germanic language descended from Old Norse. This is the language spoken by the Vikings in the Middle Ages.

The language appears complex, because there are two types of official written languages. On the one hand, the "Bokmål", which means "language of books" and it originated through Danish influence. On the other hand, there is the modern "Nynorsk", which literally translates into "New Norwegian".

Although most Norwegians are also fluent in English, you may need to translate your content into Norwegian. The following points should be considered for quality assurance of a professional Norwegian translation.

1. Norwegian translation: Bokmål or Nynorsk?

Norwegian translation Bokmål or Nynorsk

The answer is easy: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, translations into Norwegian for business purposes should be written in Bokmål. The two standard varieties are very similar and are not used consistently.

Bokmål is used by 85-90 % of the population. For this reason, Nynorsk is rarely used for translations from English or German.

2. Accents in Norwegian translations 

You should always check whether all Norweigan accents have been correctly transferred.

Written Norwegian has special characters. These represent the typical sounds of the language that you may have seen before: å, ø, æ.

A good Norwegian translation must include the correct accents. I emphasise the accentuation because it often happens in Scandinavian proper names that the "å" (which corresponds to our "o") is written as "aa". In this specific case the use of “aa” is correct, but in other cases it’s not.

The letter "å” comes from the Danish alphabet and replaced the digraph "aa" in 1917 in Norway.

Check whether there is an "aa" in the Norwegian translation, which is not considered a specific exception. If so, it could’ve been the intention to replace the letter, because the keyboard lacks Norwegian accents.

3. Why should I avoid machine translations into Norwegian?

Why you should avoid machine translations into Norwegian

Norwegian is a little-used language and is not well supported by automatic translators like Google Translator. Of course, machine translation can be useful for understanding the meaning of Norwegian texts. However, English-Norwegian translations tend to be low-quality, to which I wouldn’t attribute commercial value . The same applies to German-Norwegian translations, although all three languages belong to the Germanic language family, the translation is quite challenging.

In other words: If your company needs an accurate translation into the rare language of Norwegian, there is no way around hiring a professional translator or translation agency.

However, you can use online translation tools like the one from etranslator.ro to learn Norwegian.

4. Norwegian translations are not cheap

Norwegian translations are not cheap

According to the law of supply and demand: the harder to get, the higher the price. Your company should be willing to pay more than for more common languages such as English or German.

Therefore, you need to have the corresponding budget. It might as well cost you twice as much as a translation into a cheap language. Maybe even more than that, but you can be sure to provide high-quality contents for your Norwegian seaking customers.

Our translation agency AbroadLink will provide advisory services on your Norwegian translations. We will help you to find the best solutions to maintain the costs low for whatever translation service you may need..

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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