I just started learning Norwegian (focusing on Bokmål). My dad didn't, still doesn't I believe, know the difference between Bokmål and Nynorsk - I don't even think that he knows that there are two written versions of Norwegian. So, being the good willed person that he is he decided to aid me in my process of learning a language that isn't exactly popular. He bought me book - which I absolutely love. It has the English version of the text on the top and a Norwegian version on the bottom. The only problem is that the book is on Nynorsk. I haven't told him, and not planning on doing it, so I have a question of whether or not translating words on Nynorsk into Bokmål will be alright. Is it okay to translate from Nynorsk to Bokmål - word by word or by sentences? Because I found a website that does it and I'm just wondering if it is correct and if it is possible at all. Or should I just leave the book and move on?

Thank you for all your help!

  • 6
    Hello and welcome to the site. I think it would be better to ask questions like this at the Language Learning site.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 15 '19 at 5:27
  • Books are good, but one thing you won't get from a book is tone. That's the difference between the words bønner and bønder.
    – OmarL
    Feb 15 '19 at 8:38
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions about language learning are off-topic here. Feb 15 '19 at 11:15

Nynorsk and Bokmål are just two different forms for writing the same language (or at least its dialects).

Bokmål (book language) is based on the Danish writing system. Of course, it is not exactly Danish -- e.g.: dan. dage and nor. (bokmål) dager , both meaning "days". It is more used in Norway than nynorsk (although I think that everyone learns both in school).

Nynorsk (new norwegian) was created by making an "average" of norwegian dialects. Aasen, its creator, favoured, in practice, the dialects that were more archaic, thus closer to old west norse. He changed a few things to make it closer to the norwegian phonology, such as turning the example above "dager" into dagar.

The differences between bokmål and nynorsk are fairly small, generally. I think you should see which system works better for you, because if you learn one, the other will become naturally easier to understand. They are not different languages that need to be translated, just different standardized ways of writing.

In terms of grammar, bokmål is closer to Swedish and, of course Danish, both east norse languages, making it easier to understand these two other languages. On the other hand, nynorsk is based on spoken norwegian itself, so it is closer to west norse tongues like faroese and Icelandic, however, those languages were way more conservative than norwegian in their grammars and features.

I don't know if it was really useful, but hope it helps you in your studies! :D


It is possible to translate from Nynorsk to Bokmål, or Nynorsk to Chinese, or any other arrangement you want. This article discusses machine translation between Nynorsk and Bokmål. It is also possible that a particular translating website can be wrong (e.g. Lingojam). A word-by-word translation is guaranteed to be wrong some of the time, because there is more to the Nynorsk/Bokmål distinction than "what is the word for X": but it might be right some of the time. The languages differ in the syntax of passives and position of possessive Ns in the NP (X's N → N til X). If the goal is to maintain a firm grasp on the literary standard and not let ikkje, æ, ka slip into your Norwegian, it would be best to not mix in Nynorsk or machine translations of X to Bokmål.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.