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Norwegian introductions are fairly brief and to the point, though a lot depends on the context.  When Norwegians are curious and have the time, they will engage in a substantial conversation, however ‘small talk’ isn’t  a Norwegian custom.

On a first introduction, it is not practice to ask someone how they are.  This is likely due to the private nature of the question.  It is very personal to ask about someones health or condition, and as discussed in the Greetings lesson, you don’t ask the question unless you sincerely want to know.  Not asking is not impolite, either.  When a relationship has been established, then by all means, ask away.

 

 

 

Hvordan går det?

 

/vorr-dahn gawrr deh/

 How’s it going?

 

lit: how goes it

 

Hvordan går det is the most common asking of ‘how are you’.  It tends to be a mouthful because of the rolling Rrs.  Hvordan can be particularly hard for English speakers to say the correct emphasis as it is on the second syllable.   Rolling the Rr makes one emphasis the [hvor].  Norwegian tutors are quick to point out that this is a special expression, meaning that it doesn’t make sense technically in Norwegian.  However, this excuse is not necessary to English speakers as the direct translation is acceptable in English and even used – the Dutch also have the same expression.

There are three standard quick answers to ‘how are you’ questions:

 

 

 

Bra/fint.

 

/brrah/feent/

 Good/fine.

 

 

 

 

Bare bra/fint.

 

/bahrr-eh brrah/feent/

Just good/fine.

 

 

 

 

Ikke så bra.

 

/eek-keh saw brrah/

 Not so good.

 

 

 

These answers can also be in sentence form depending on the question asked.

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan går det?

 

Q: How’s it going?

 

A: Det går…

Det går bra/fint.

A: It goes…

It’s going good/fine.

/deh gawrr/

Det går bare bra/fint.

 

It’s going just good/fine.

 

Det går ikke så bra.

 

It’s not going so good.

 

There are two other ‘how are you’ questions used in Norwegian:

 

 

 

Hvordan har du det?

 

/vorr-dahn hahrr dooh deh/

 How are you?

 

lit: how have you it

 

 

Hvordan står det til?

 

/vorr-dahn stawrr deh til/

 How are things?

 

lit: how stands it to

 

Hvordan står det til can be shortened to just ‘står til‘ and is similar to ‘hows it’ in English which is more youthful and doesn’t need a reply.  These questions can also be answered with sentences using the same conditions – bra, fint, bare bra/fint and ikke så bra:

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan har du det?

 How are you?

A: Jeg har det…

(…bra, bare bra, ikke så bra)

I have it…

(good, just good, not so good)

/vorr-dahn hahrr doo deh/

lit: how have you  it

/yay hahrr deh…/

lit: I has it…

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan står det til?

How are things?

A: Det står (bra/fint) til.

Things are (good/fine).

/vorr-dahn stawrr deh til meh John/

lit: how stands it to

/deh stawrr (brrah/feent) til/

lit: it stands good/fine

Note, that unlike English, Norwegian verbs do not change according to grammatical person.  In Norwegian you will find ‘I has, he has, we has, they has’, as in the table above, and another example: ‘I goes, she goes, we goes, they goes’.

When asking about someone particular, the same questions can be used with the person’s name:

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan går det med John?

How’s it going with John?

A: Det går… (…bra, bare bra, ikke så bra) med John/ham.

It is going (good, just good, not so good) with John/him.

/vorr-dan gawrr deh/

lit: how goes it with John

/deh gawrr… med John/hahm/

lit: it goes… with John/him

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan har John det?

 How is John?

A: John/Han har det…

(…bra, bare bra, ikke så bra)

John/He is…

(good, just good, not so good).

/vorr-dahn hahrr John deh/

lit: how has Johnit

/John/Hahn hahrr deh…/

lit: John/He has it

 

 

 

 

Q: Hvordan står det til med John?

How are things with John?

A: Det står (bra/feent) til med John/ham.

Things are (good/fine) with John/him.

/vorr-dahn stawrr deh til meh John/

lit: how stands it to with John

/deh stawrr (brrah/feent) til meh John/hahm/

lit: it stands good to with John/him

 

There are always new ways of greeting people in Norway.  Some are influenced by other countries, others by immigrants, and others again by pop culture.  Even English makes the cut.  One popular slag phrase at the moment is Hva skjer’a, which is mainly used by youth culture, meaning ‘what’s happening?’.  It is primarily used in the southern parts of Norway, especially Oslo.
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