When you live in Norway, Norwegian is not the only language you have to learn.  You also live with Nynorsk and Sami and even Danish, Swedish and Finnish.  English is also a prominent language in Norway and can help you get around but being familiar with the Nordic languages can help you with even the most simple things in life.

One of the common areas in life where you need to be familiar with all the Nordic languages is food shopping.  Food manufacturers find it more economical to include at least three different languages on packages.  From shampoo bottles to frozen peas, the Nordic languages are squished into the package design.

As a beginner-learner of Norwegian, I can usually pick out what the product is just by the pictures but there have been many times where I have got it wrong.  Buying spices, for example, is a lot tougher than you’d think.  Trying to look through the wording and working out which one is Norwegian (so you buy the correct one) can be frustrating.  They often have no connection to English so I can’t use my own language background to guestimate.  But I’ve noticed that the language that uses ( ¨ ) over the words is generally Swedish and the language that  is the longest with odd combinations like double ‘a’ and ‘uo’ is usually Finnish.  I just presumed the other language was Norwegian but it somehow always looked a little odd (certainly not what Moose said how the spice was supposed to be written).  This is because I’ve (just) discovered that the other language is not Norwegian at all but Danish.  In fact, there is usually no Norwegian written on spices.  Manufacturers believe that Norwegian is close enough to Danish (and that there is so few Norwegians) to not bother to put Norwegian on packages.  (I thought I was going crazy.)  What’s even crazier is that often the ‘Danish’ on packages isn’t actually real Danish but a muddle of Norwegian and Danish.  Go figure.  So now I find myself having to accommodate for anything that may look the same as Norwegian on top of learning Norwegian.  Most of the time I get my spice pickings right but sometimes I get it wrong like when I didn’t recognise that gurkemeje was tumeric.

However, spices that are popular in Norway, like cinnamon, have on their packages only one name – the Norwegian one.

Ok – now it’s your turn.  See if you can guess the spices in the pictures just by the wording.  Lykke til!