Other languages

Other languages in Norway

National minorities

Today about 20 000 individuals in Norway have the Sámi language as their mother tongue. Sámi is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of languages, and its roots in Norway may extend as far back as Norwegian. Sámi is an official language on a par with Norwegian in some of the municipalities in the northern part of Norway. 

Groups with long-term attachment to Norway are defined as national minorities, that is the Kvens, who speak Kven; Jews (Jiddisch and Modern Hebrew), the so called Forest Finns (Norwegian has replaced Finnish); Rom or Gypsies (Rom), and the Romani people (Romani). Approximately 4 000 hearing impaired persons utilize Norwegian Sign Language.

Foreign languages

Most Norwegians aged 60 or younger studied English in school. Some of the elderly Norwegians will have problems communicating with foreigners in English, but not so for younger people. Today, English is Norway's most important foreign language for international use, followed by German and French.

There is a large number of immigrants whose first language is not Norwegian as 10 % of the Norwegian population are immigrants. Currently more than 120 different mother tongues are represented in Norwegian primary schools. The major immigrant languages besides Swedish and Danish are Urdu, Vietnamese, Somali, Persian and Turkish.

Olaf Husby, October 2010