Jeg går på norskkurs

(I go to a Norwegian course)

In case you were wondering, yes I am trying to learn Norwegian. I’ve been going to classes for about four weeks and have managed to master some fairly simple phrases. As of right now I can:

  1. Conjugate in the present tense
  2. Conjugate in the future tense
  3. Know how to make nouns singular and plural
  4. Know how to use definite and indefinite forms
  5. Construct basic subject-verb-object (SVO) sentences
  6. Tell time

Now you’re probably wondering why I decided to stick time on my list. It’s because telling time in Norwegian is bit of a headache. Norwegian is the third language that I’ve tried to pick up and it’s the ONLY language where you can’t just say it’s hour x and minute y.

So, how do you tell time in Norwegian? Well, first of all you need to divide the clock into quarters (see the picture below). Next, you need to know that when telling time everything changes depending on which quarter you are in.

For the first quarter, you essentially you pronounce time the way you would in English. So in the first quarter everything would be pronounced like this:

12:01 = 1 over 12
12:05 = 5 over 12
12:10 = 10 over 12
12:14 = 14 over 12

Once you pass the 15 minute mark everything changes. You add an hour to the actual time and subtract the minutes from the 30 minute mark. So:

12:20 = 10 på halv 1
12:25 = 5 på halv 1

Once you pass the half hour mark you still add an hour to the actual time but now you add the minutes from the 30 minute mark. So:

12:35 = 5 over halv 1
12:40 = 10 over halv 1

And once you get into the last quarter hour you subtract minutes from the 60 minute mark. So:

12:50 = 10  1
12:55 = 5  1

Each of the quarter marks also has their own special phrase. So for example, 12:30 wouldn’t be 0 på halv 1. It would just be halv 1. If you now have a headache, don’t worry I did too.

While telling time has taken me a few days to get used to, I would say that Norwegian hasn’t proved too difficult to pick up. The grammar itself is pretty easy to understand so all I really need to do is just buckle down and memorize more of the vocabulary.

As for practicing Norwegian outside of the classroom, it’s taken a while to learn some more practical vocabulary and phrases. While knowing how to say “My name is,” “I come from,” “I study,” etc., many shopkeepers aren’t particularly interested in knowing those details. Most of what I’ve been able to say on a day-to-day level is limited to “Thank you” and “Where is (insert random grocery store item here)?” But it’s only been a month, and I’m sure I’ll be able to communicate a bit more with people before the year is over. I did have one great moment last week when a student asked me a question on my way to my office at Byåsen. The conversation itself was a bit clunky and went something like this:

Student: Er du lærer? (Are you a teacher?)
Me: ……YES! I mean ja! I mean how can I help you?

She quickly realized that she’d have to ask her actual request in English, but hey I was just happy that I understood her question (and that she actually thought I was a teacher, not another high school student).