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Norwegian has several ways of saying ‘hello’.  The most common two are hallo and hei, although god morn is a frequent phrase too.  Saying ‘hello’ is usually used as a greeting, however, it can also be used to get someone’s attention or to ask ‘can I help you’.

 

 

Hei!

 

/hei/

 Hi!

 

 

 

 

Hallo!

 

/hahl-looh/

 Hello!

 

 

 

Greetings in Norway are very simple.  In the initial introduction, the simple ‘hi’ or ‘hello’, is all that it is required to greet.  It is not necessary to follow with ‘how are you’.  In English, ‘how are you’ is a statement synonymous with ‘hello’ that does not require a literal response, or even a response at all.  In Norway, ‘how are you’ is not necessarily part of the greeting and is certainly a question that needs to be answered.  When asked, a parrot response such as ‘I’m well, and you?’ or ‘Fine, thanks’ is not appropriate.  A truthful response, even a lengthy response, is called for, as when a Norwegian asks, he truly wants to know.

Different relationships use different greetings.  An extra friendly greeting can use ‘hei hei’ or ‘heia’.  A close relationship greeting can use ‘hey, you’.  Saying ‘hey, you’ is usually seen as rude in English but in Norwegian it can be a term of endearment.

 

 

 

Hei, hei! or Heia!

 

/hei, hei/  /hei-ah/

 Hi, hi! or Heya!!

 

 

 

 

Hei, du!

 

/hei, doo/

 Hey, you!

 

 

 

Formal greetings are used when you meet a stranger and such places as work and community.  Formal greetings include the time of the day – Good Morning, Good Day, Good Evening.

 

 

 

 

 

God morgen!

 

 

/gooh mawr-gehn/

 Good morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 11AM

God dag!

 

 

/gooh dah-g/

Good day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 4PM

God kveld!

 

 

/gooh kveh-l/

 Good evening!

 

 

 

 

God morgen is used only in writing and is not spoken.  It is the shorter version god morn that is used in speech.  This came about because morgen has always been pronounced morn since the Danish influence.

Notice in the pronunciation in italics how the Dd is silent at the end of god and kveld.  Even though the Dd is silent it is still used to round of the vowel sounds.  Also, there are a few words in Norwegian where Oo has a ‘/aw/å’ sound instead of the usual ‘ooh’, as in morgen above.

Good morning can also be used as an informal greeting.  ‘Good morn’ is more common, but if you are feeling particularly causal (or on a time schedule) then just morn is fine too.

 

 

 

God morn!

 

/gooh mawr-n/

 Good morn!

 

 

 

 

Morn!

 

/mawr-n/

 Morn!

 

 

 

The vowel sound of morgen also applies to morn.

There is one greeting that is used in both formal and informal situations that is particular to the Nordic countries – Takk for sist, translating to: Thanks for the last time (we met).  This greeting is only used after a previous initial meeting.  It has the same understanding as the English ‘Welcome back’ in formal situations or ‘It’s nice to see you again’ in informal situations.

 

 

 

Takk for sist!

 

/tahk for sist/

 Thanks for the last time!

 

 

 

Good-bye
Like ‘hellos’, ‘good-byes’ have formal, informal and friendly versions.  The most formal good-bye in Norwegian is actually from French – adjø – but is rarely used.  The most common good-byes are har det, and the longer version, har det bra.  Both can be used in formal or casual situations.

 

 

 

Ha det!

 

/hah deh/

 Bye!

 

lit: have it!

 

 

Ha det bra!

 

/hah deh brra/

 Good-bye!

 

lit: have it good!

The det is not referring to the word ‘day’.  It specifically means ‘it’.  It is similar to how English uses ‘How’s it going?’  The ‘it’ is a condition rather than a time or thing.

Note: Det is a special word in Norwegian as it has a silent ‘t’.  It can mean different things depending on context – it can sometimes be interpreted as ‘that’.  It is also sometimes used where English uses ‘the’ such as titles: Det lille huset på prærien (The Little House on the Prairie.)

The two other casual good-bye phrases:

 

 

 

Vi ses!

 

/vee sehs/

 We’ll see each other (later).

 

lit: we be seen!

 

 

Vi snakkes!

 

/vee snah-kehs/

 We’ll talk (later)!

 

lit: we be talking

In beginner Norwegian ses and snakkes are only used in this context.  They are passives forms of ‘see’ (to be seen) and ‘talk’.

God natt is an informal good-bye, meaning ‘I’m leaving’ or ‘going to bed’.

 

 

 

God natt!

 

/gooh nah-t/

 Good night!

 

 

 

God dag on its own is not used as a good-bye, however, most often in service situations it is used in ‘ha en god dag‘.

 

 

 

Ha en god dag!

 

/hah ehn gooh dahg/

 Have a good day!

 

 

 

 

Ha en hyggelig kveld!

 

/hah ehn hewg-ehl-ee kveh-l/

 Have a pleasant evening!

 

 

‘Ha en hyggelig kveld’ is also used in service situations and is very polite.  Hyggelig is one of the Norwegian words that has a silent ‘Gg’.

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Hello & Good-bye Quiz 1

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