The relationship of spelling to pronunciation is much more straightforward than in English. By learning a few conventions, you should be able to sound out the pronunciation of a word you have seen written.
Long vowels (long duration of the vowel) generally are written with no consonants or only one consonant after it. If two consonants follow, the vowel is short. In English, long and short vowels have a different quality (ex. long a in 'way' / short a in 'bat'). In Norwegian, the long and short vowels have the same or similar quality, and the difference is mainly in length.
|WORDS WITH LONG VOWELS||WORDS WITH SHORT VOWELS|
|ta (TAH / 'take,')||tatt (TAHT / 'taken')|
|fele (FEH-LEH / 'fiddle')||felle (FEHL-LEH / 'trap')|
|mine (MEE-NEH / 'expression')||minne (MEEN-NEH / 'memory')|
Below is an overview of how some common Norwegian sounds are written.
ei (nei /NAI/ 'no')
eg (jeg /YAI/ 'I'; regne /RAI-NEH/ 'rain)
sj (sju /SHEW/ 'seven')
skj (skje /SHEH/ 'spoon')
sk + i (ski/SHEE/ 'ski')
sk + y (sky /SHEE/'cloud')
rs (norsk / NOHSK / 'Norwegian')
kj (kjøre / KJUH-REH / 'drive')
k + i (kino / KJEE-NOO / 'movie theater')
k + y (kysse / KJEES-SEH / 'kiss')
tj (tjue / KJEW-EH / 'twenty')
j (ja / YAH / 'yes')
hj (hjemme / YEHM-MEH / 'at home')
gj (gjøre / YUH-REH / 'do')
g + i (gi / YEE / 'give')
g + y (gyse / YEE-SEH / 'shiver')
A few exceptional pronunciations of common words:
Nouns in Norwegian fall into a grammatical classification called gender. There are three genders: en (masculine), ei (feminine), et (neuter). You need to learn the gender of each noun to speak or write correctly, however if you make the wrong guess, most Norwegians will understand perfectly well what you meant.
The system is slightly complicated because the old ei gender disappeared in Danish (thus in some bokmål forms), but often it survived among speakers, and today many nouns can be either en or ei.