Snakker du Norsk? Our Favorite Norwegian Language Resources

When I was very young, I would occasionally hear my great-grandparents speaking in a language I did not understand. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that they were speaking Norwegian. I would have loved to learn but Norwegian language resources were non-existent in my small community. When I started high school, the only language classes that were available were Spanish and French.

Norwegian Language ResourcesTechnology has changed dramatically since then and resources for language learning abound – language learning apps, flashcard apps, Pimsleur audio books, and even online classes with native speakers. I’ve compiled a list of our favorite Norwegian language resources here. Join me in learning Norwegian.

Norwegian Language Reference Texts

Norwegian language resources
Norwegian Verbs & Essentials of Grammar by Louis Janus is an excellent book and I highly recommend it to all interested in learning Norwegian. While teaching oneself a new language is made easier today with all of the various methods available, most fail to include lessons in grammar which are critical to truly understanding a language and developing fluency. This book is very thorough. It gives you the technical grammar explanation and then follows it up with numerous examples to reinforce the usage in practice. A quick reference guide for verbs in the back of the book gives you all the most commonly used Norwegian verbs in a table, each with infinitive, present, past and future tense. I love this!

Norwegian language resources

The Haugen Norwegian–English Dictionary has been regarded as the foremost resource for both learners and professionals using English and Norwegian. It is the first dictionary in any language to include both forms of Norwegian language, Bokmål and Nynorsk, in one alphabet and the first Norwegian-English dictionary to give the pronunciation of the Norwegian words. I highly recommend this dictionary.

Language Tip :: I regularly share an image on Instagram to introduce key words and phrases in Norwegian, #PictureNorsk. Follow along to learn new vocabulary with me.

My First English/Norwegian Dictionary of Sentences by Arielle Modéré is an excellent choice for young children. This dictionary provides a child-friendly introduction to learning Norwegian. It helps children learn vocabulary in the context of sentences or phrases. It is arranged by themes relating to activities in a typical child’s life and the colorful illustrations make meanings easy to understand.

Norwegian Language Lessons

Norwegian language resources
Beginner’s Norwegian by Laura Žiūkaitè-Hansen is a great audio resource. I enjoy listening to the conversation lessons and trying to repeat after each speaker while I am running.

Complete Norwegian is a decent resource for beginners. The audiofiles on the disk could be improved with pauses in between to process whatever was said.

Language Tip :: As your skills develop, a great exercise is to translate simple children’s stories into your target language. Alternatively, ask a native speaker to translate a favorite story for you and then memorize the text.

Norwegian in 10 Minutes a Day is a great beginner’s guide to learning the language. The accompanying CD has some very nice activities but they are limited to only a few subjects.
Norwegian language resources

Norwegian Literature Books

While researching Norwegian language resources for this post, I discovered The Mystery of Nils. It is the story of a doll called Nils, inspired by the traditional Norwegian mythical creature, who leads a happy life with his new family in Oslo. But due to an accident, Nils finds out that he means a lot more to Erna, the little girl to whom he was gifted, than just being a birthday present. Without knowing it, he has been carrying a painful secret, and during an adventurous trip to Northern Norway, he helps Erna to make one of the most important decisions of her life.

Norwegian language resources
The authors, have carefully selected the most frequently used words in the Norwegian language and made sure that the story is primarily made up of them. Separate texts and exercises focus on conversational topics are designed to help you learn the language. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure to read this book, the glowing reviews on Amazon prompted me to purchase it straightaway and I look forward to its arrival very soon.

Norwegian language resourcesAnother delightful book series, Karsten og Petra by Tor Åge Bringsværd and Anne G. Holt, is written specifically for children. We purchased Hilser På Kongen, about Norway’s national holiday, Syttende Mai, while we were traveling in Norway. The illustrations are lovely and the text is very descriptive.

Language Tip :: Ask a native speaker to record him or herself reading aloud a children’s story so you can listen along with the audio.

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Your Ancestral Heritage @EvaVarga.net

Norwegian Music

Learning a new language can be challenging but it is also very fun. While we are not yet fluent in Norwegian, we do know many phrases and delight in singing songs that we have learned over the years. Music is a fabulous way to engage youth in language learning. I have shared a few of our favorites here on the blog:

Returning home from heritage camp, my daughter also shared with me a few Norwegian artists that she discovered: Alexander Rybak, Nico and Vinz, Hillbillies, and Innertier. Here’s one favorite (with lyrics), Du Er Ung (“You Are Young”):

You will also find a wealth of language resources for young children on YouTube. I have recently learned that Karsten and Petra have their own videos!! Their first film series was Casper and Emma-Best Friends (2013) with Nora Amundsen and Elias Søvold-Simonsen in the lead roles. The film follows the two everyday with their soft toy Miss Rabbit and Lion Kid. As of 2016, they have produced four movies and a TV series, a fifth film is expected in 2017.

Norwegian language resourcesWith Amazon Music Unlimited, you can listen to a wide range of Norwegian songs from their movies and TV series. Alternatively, you can purchase individual titles for just .99¢  Their films are also available on Amazon in BluRay or DVD.

Norwegian Movies

Movies can be one of the best tools for learning a language. Not only do films in other languages help develop language skills, foreign films enrich a student’s background by developing understanding and creating sympathy for others. There are online resources for foreign films, but finding them is not always easy.

Norwegian Children's Movies

Kidflix Global is working to make foreign films for children more accessible to American audiences. Thus far, we have purchased two Norwegian films, “Magic Silver” and “Wolf Summer” and have been overjoyed with both.

Language Tip :: Watch familiar movies without subtitles and the audio in your target language, if possible.

Netflix and Amazon both have a wealth of foreign films – but not all are suitable for young children. You may wish to preview them in advance.

Language Resources for Kids from Around the World (2)

The Raven: A Mini Unit for Middle School

I have been fascinated with ravens since I was a child. I recall my mother reading aloud Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven at Halloween. Poe was one of her favorite authors and she delighted in reading this glorious poem in narrative voice.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netNew research has found that ravens remember prior interactions with people and even communicate these interactions with others of their kind. I’ve read stories of ravens leaving trinkets and gifts for those who have shown them kindness. My father has a pair of ravens that visit him regularly and when we visit, they can always be seen perched nearby keeping an eye on things.

Raven Mini Unit

Yesterday, I stumbled upon an Audubon post, How to Tell a Raven From a Crow on Facebook and the wheels in my head immediately started spinning. Would not this make a wonderful Halloween themed mini unit? Yes! I must put something together …

Science

The Audubon link I shared above is the perfect place to begin. While ravens and crows may look similar in some ways, there are several distinctive traits that help set them apart.

You probably know that ravens are larger, the size of a red-tailed hawk. Ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies overhead. The crow’s tail feathers are basically the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, however, have longer middle feathers in their tails, so their tail appears wedge-shaped when open.

Go outside and watch them. Bring along your nature journal and record your observations. How many do you see? How do they interact? What are they eating? Do they scratch at the soil with their feet? What sounds do they make?

Consider adding several quick sketches in your journal or taking photographs. When you return indoors, take more time to illustrate the birds you observed. Feel free to use a field guide or photograph to help you.

Literature

Ravens are perhaps the most common bird symbol in the mythologies and religions of ancient cultures. They assume a variety of roles, ranging from messengers of deities and sages to oracles and tricksters. They play a central part in many creation myths and are typically associated with the supernatural realms lying beyond the ordinary experience.

The Raven: Mini Unit for Middle School @EvaVarga.netThe history of ravens as mythical birds can be traced as far as the 1000-year-old Norse mythology. Odin, the chief god in Norse mythology, had a pair ravens called Hugin and Munin perching on his shoulders. Each morning they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody. They would come back by sunrise and whisper to Odin what they had learned. Sometimes Odin himself would turn into a raven.

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry more for Munin.

Huginn ok Muninn
fljúga hverjan dag
Jörmungrund yfir;
óumk ek of Hugin,
at hann aftr né komi-t,
þó sjámk meir of Munin.

I encourage you to research the symbolism of ravens in a culture of your choice. Here are two of my favorites:

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

How Raven Stole the Sun (Native American Myth)

Art

Ravens have appeared in the mythology of many ancient people. It is no surprise, therefore, that ravens are also popular subjects in art.

I have often been inspired by children’s books. My kids and I will periodically try to recreate the illustrations we enjoy in picture books. I am not alone.

Ravens Mini Unit @EvaVarga.netOn the website, Native American Art Projects and Lesson Plans, I found two lesson plans centered around children’s books featuring ravens:

A Man Called Raven (Oil Pastel)

How the Raven Stole the Sun (Crayon Batik)

 

Hurra for Deg: The Norwegian Birthday Song

Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?

Hurra for Deg @EvaVarga.netOne of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You),  the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.

The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.

Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?
Gratulere!

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?
Congratulations!

Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:

Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.

When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.

On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.

After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!

If you are interested, here’s the second verse:

Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!

We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!

Barnesklubb: Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick

People have devised ways to keep track of the passing days for millennia. In Scandinavia, where the growing season is so short, this was particularly important. It was imperative to know the best time for the sowing of seed, or the time when cattle might safely be let out to graze.

In measures that varied from valley to valley, they notched off the days from that week in winter when the sun barely crept above the horizon, or from the day the ice broke up on the lake. The days were carved on a stick or board and eventually an elementary almanac of weather and crops evolved – the first “Farmer’s Almanac”, if you will.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netThe Primstav, or calendar stick, served our nordic ancestors for seven centuries as a guide long before the invention of  printing. With the arrival of Christianity, the Primstav evolved as a religious calendar to keep track of the saints’  days.

Each day was represented by a notch on the stick and the year was divided into two halves. One side of the Primstav represented the summer season, beginning on April 15, and the other side represented winter, beginning on October 15. Symbols were carved onto the primstav as a reminder of merkedager (significant dates). Saints’ days were often marked by symbols representing the circumstances of their martyrdom.

Red Letter Days

A red letter day is any day of special significance. In Norway, Sweden, Denmark and some Latin American countries, a public holiday is sometimes referred to as “red day” (rød dag), as it is printed in red in calendars.

Here are a few of the merkedager Norwegians observed throughout the year.

  • April 14 – Summer Day (symbolized with a tree or branch) – The beginning of summer
  • June 24 – St. John the Baptist or Jonsok (an hourglass or sun) – Originally a solstice celebration and rededicated to St. John the Baptist
  • Oct 14 – Winter Day (a mitten) – The beginning of winter
  • Feb 22 – St. Peter’s Day (a key) – According to legend, St. Peter threw hot stones in water to keep it from freezing. His keys to the kingdom of heaven serve as a  reminder that ice may be too thin to walk on safely.

Look here for examples of Primstav dates, symbols and meanings.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netMake Your Own Primstav

For Barnesklubb this month, we learned how to make our own Primstav using the tutorial provided by Keith Homstad in the July 2011 issue of the Viking (a magazine for members of Sons of Norway).  I have summarized the steps here for those interested in taking on this challenge – a wonderful hands-on history project.

Materials:

  • Pencils and erasers
  • Sandpaper
  • Flat piece of wood (3 feet long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/4-inch thick)
  • Permanent markers or wood burning tool
  • Howard Wood Polish or other furniture polish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Sand the stick to remove any rough edges.
  2. With a pencil, mark 1 1/2 inches from each end. One end will be the handle and the opposite end will be the “far end”.
  3. Choose one side for “summer” and measure 22 3/4 inches from the far end. Starting here, use a pencil to make 182 marks along the edge about 1/8 inch apart and 1/8 inch long.
  4. On the reverse side, measure 23 inches from the “far end” and mark off 184 marks along the edge for the “winter” side.
  5. On the “winter” side, the first mark (nearest the handle) is Winter Day on October 14th. Continue marking off 30 days for November, and 31 for December and January. Mark off 28 days for February, then make one marks for February 29 (Leap Year Day). Continue marking off 31 days for March and the first 13 days of April.
  6. On the “summer” side, Summer Day marks the beginning on April 14.  Count off the remaining 17 days of April. Continue marking 31 days for May, 30 days for June, 31 days for July and August, 30 days for September, and the first 13 days of October.
  7. You may now begin to customize your Primstav by adding important family dates and any major holidays. Create a special icon or symbol for each event.
  8. Decorate the handle as you desire – perhaps with your name and the year you made your primstav.
  9. When you are happy with the design, consider using a wood burning tool to mark them permanently. Younger children can use a permanent marker.
  10. To protect your Primstav, you may also wish to apply a coat of furniture polish.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netPrimstav Alternatives

As an alternative to the traditional carved or wooden Primstav, I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this Embroidered  Primstav. Embroidery is an art that has always enchanted me. I love this so very much that it is now a goal of mine to create my own. Thank you, Pam!!

 

Alle Hjerters Dag: Valentine’s Day in Norway

In Norway, Valentine’s Day is referred to as Valentinsdagen. Also called All Hearts Day (Alle Hjerters Dag), Valentinsdagen is a celebration of love and romance. Only in recent years has the business sector promoted this tradition in Norway.

valentinesday

The day may have its roots in the Roman celebration of the goddess Juno representing women and marriage (14 February), and the start of the Lupercalia festival observed on February 13 through 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.

In Norway, Valentines Day is not celebrated with as much fanfare and grandeur style compared with many other parts of the world. However, the expression of emotions and ardent love is still important and Norwegians enjoy spending time together to discover more about each other’s lives.

People do take time to be romantic in Norway and often celebrate the expression of love with cards, flowers and chocolate. Many Norwegians now send postcards to the ones they love on Valentinsdagen.

Norwegian words for love and romance

Ord for kjærlighet og romantikk

  • Elsker/ Love
  • Kjæreste / Boyfriend
  • Kjæresten / Girlfriend or Sweetheart (depends on context) 
  • Kjærligheten / Love 
  • Glede over å være sammen / Joy of being together
  • Jeg elsker deg / I Love You
  • Jeg er så forferdelig glad i deg / I am so terribly fond of you
  • Savner deg veldig mye! / Miss You Very Much!
  • Du vet hvor mye jeg elsker deg / You Know How Much I Love You
  • Vil du være min Valentin? / Will you be my Valentine?
  • Ha en fin Valentinsdag / Have a nice Valentine’s Day
  • Kjærlighetens magi til evig tid / Magic of love everlasting
  • Du er min Valentine / You are my Valentine
  • Jeg er en håpløs romantiker / I am a hopeless romantic
  • Jeg er så glad for at jeg traff deg / I am so glad that I met you
  • Til min kjære på Valentinsdagen / For my beloved on Valentine’s Day
  • Fra din Valentin / From your Valentine
  • Det er kun med hjertet, man kan se rigtigt / It is only with the heart, one can see right
  • Jeg elsker deg .. Du er mitt liv! / I love you .. You are my life!
  • Jeg elsker deg over hele mitt hjerte / I love you all over my heart
  • Elske deg / Love youTenker på deg / Thinking of you
  • Elske deg så mye / Love you so much
  • Åh eg bare elske deg / Aah I just love you
  • Ha en fin Valentinsdagen alle sammen / Have a nice Valentines day everyone
  • Du betyr alt for meg og jeg elsker deg! / You mean everything to me and I love you!
  • Jeg er så forelsket i deg / I am so in love with you
  • God Valentinsdag, vennen min. / Good Valentine’s Day, my friend.

Julehjerter (Christmas Hearts)

It is a Danish Christmas tradition to make these paper heart baskets for the children to hang on the Christmas tree.  The oldest known plaited Christmas hearts were made by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen in 1860.

The Danish architect Hans H. Koch (1873 – 1922) had great mathematical and 3d talents. The story goes that his Christmas tree was terribly overloaded by all his intricate paper ornaments. In 1916 patterns and instructions for seven complex woven Christmas baskets were published in the children’s journal ‘Børnenes Magasin’  issued by a leading department store in Copenhagen; Magasin du Nord.

These lovely hearts work equally well for Valentinsdagen as well. Follow the step-by-step tutorial with the simple pattern provided in the post or create your own.

In the past, when I have shown kids how to do this with construction paper, I have found that the paper tears easily as they are weaving the strips together.  This can be frustrating to little ones. I highly recommend using wallpaper would be more durable. Discontinued pattern books are available often for free. :)

Norwegian Games: Let the Fun Begin

Have you ever played Norwegian Bingo? How about Hnefatafl? Or Kubb? Not only are these Norwegian games fun for all ages, they also provide a great opportunity to teach children about Norwegian culture. With three different games or spill to choose from, you’re sure to find something everyone will enjoy.

norskespille

Norwegian Bingo

Calling out the numbers in Norwegian—one (ehn), two (tooh), three (treh)—gives this familiar game a little Norwegian flair. It’s also a fun way to teach Norwegian counting. Five in a row makes ‘Bingo!’ Using a pencil and ruler, help your child draw a grid on a sheet of paper to make the Bingo board. Number the grid and use coins as game pieces. Ready to practice the Norwegian alphabet? Instead of numbering your Bingo board, write and call out Norwegian letters—a (ah), b (beh), and so on.

Hnefatafl

Hnefatafl (pronounced NEF-uh-tahf-ahl), is one of the oldest games in the world (traced in various versions to the Vikings, Welsh, Saxons, and Irish) and is similar to chess. The Vikings played this game to sharpen their minds for battle. The goal is to capture your opponent’s pieces before the ‘king’ reaches safety.

Also known as The Viking GameThe King’s Table or simply Tafl, is one of the rare breed of games with two unequal sides. The defending side comprises twelve soldiers and a king, who start the game in a cross formation in the center of the board. Their objective is for the king to escape by reaching any of the four corner squares. The attackers comprise 24 soldiers positioned in four groups of 6 around the perimeter of the board. All pieces move like the Rook in chess and pieces are taken by “sandwiching” (i.e. moving your piece so that an opponent’s piece is trapped horizontally or vertically between two of yours).

You can purchase a Hnefatafl Tournament Set {aff} as shown here online or at a specialty game store.

Kübb

Kübb, (pronounced KOOB) is a Viking lawn game that is played with three types of wooden pieces: kubbs, batons, and a king. Using your batons, the point of the game is to knock down the other team’s kubbs, and finally the king. Challenge your children to a one-on-one game, or get the whole family involved. Kübb can be played with two teams of up to six people.

If you or your child enjoy woodworking, consider making a Kübb set for yourself or as gifts. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-made Triumph Sports Wooden Kubb Set {aff} as shown here.

For an instructional video, watch Justin Ross explain How to Play Kübb on YouTube. Kübb is a game for all ages and skill levels. For information about national competitions, be sure to check out the US National Kübb Championship’s website.

For more details on each of these games, subscribe to my newsletter for a free eBook, Norsk Spille (Norwegian Games). This month’s edition will be sent on Friday, October 17th.