Friday, May 09, 2008

Learning Norwegian 2

I've started compiling a list of Norwegian words to learn, and I'm finding that the biggest issue is pronunciation, whether you speak Nynorsk or Bukmol. But knowing English has helped - there are a lot of words which are similar sounding to English, if you use a bit of imagination.
For example: lære (learn/teach), sofa (couch), bror (brother), mann (man), fot (foot), far (father), ting (thing), gjest (guest). What you have to keep in mind is pronunciation - the word 'gås' looks like 'gas', except for the fact that you pronounce the character 'å' like the short vowel in the English word 'mall'. When you pronounce it correctly, it sounds more like the first syllable in the English word 'gosling' (baby goose), which is closer to what it means - gås (goose).
Of course, then there are words that are completely unrelated to English words in appearance and sound. Words like: bonde (farmer), ås (hill), stong (rod), barn (child) - I think even more difficult than those, however, are the words (like barn) which look and sound like English words (or at least American english) but mean something totally different.
Fortunately the characters are pretty much phonetic. Unlike English, where the sound of the words sometimes seems independent of spelling, in Norwegian each character has a specific sound. So once you learn the sound for each character you can simply sound out the word. And then you might be able to recognize it. Of course some dialects leave off part of the word or pronounce it differently... but most of them are consistent in where and how they do it.

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