SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

REVEALED: Do higher language requirements make Norwegian citizenship less appealing?

Norway will raise the language requirements for citizenship in October. Foreign residents in the country have told The Local whether the new rules will put them off applying in the future. 

Pictured is Ålesund.
Here's what The Local's readers had to say about Norway's new language requirements for citizenship. Pictured is Ålesund. Photo by Mike Benna on Unsplash

The language requirements for Norwegian citizenship will become stricter from October 1st. The required level will be raised from A2 to B1, in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

For those that register their application and submit it via the online application portal before September 24th but are unable to hand in their documents to the police before October 1st, the UDI will count their application as handed in before the new rules take effect- meaning they are required to pass the language test at A2. 

READ MORE: How long does it take to meet Norway’s new language requirements for citizenship? 

So, how have those hoping to become a Norwegian citizen in the future taken the news, and do they think the new rule is fair? 

Shortly after the change was announced, The Local ran a survey among readers and subscribers to find out whether they thought the new requirements would put them off applying. The results of the survey delivered a clear “no”. 

Just under 75 percent of readers said that the higher requirements would not put them off applying, while 26.7 percent said that the new rules would deter them from attempting to become a Norwegian citizen in the future. 

Additionally, only one-fifth said that language requirements for citizenship were a bad thing. 

When using social media as a bellwether, you should always exercise caution. Still, even there, most comments and replies to articles announcing the change were reasonably positive towards the change. 

One common thing readers undeterred by the language requirements shared in common is that they felt knowing the language to a certain degree should be expected of a citizen. 

“Knowing the language goes hand in hand with living in a foreign country and certainly with becoming a citizen. If citizenship is important to you, the language must be as well. B1 level is achievable and a reasonable level to expect a citizen to have,” Even, who originally hails from the USA but lives in Vestland County, told The Local. 

Similarly, many felt the requirement for B1 isn’t too demanding, either because by the time they are eligible for citizenship, they should be comfortable at that level or because they feel that the country gives a lot in return. 

“By the time I’ve spent enough time here to apply, the language requirement will not be an issue,” Peter, who has lived in Norway for a year, said. 

Meanwhile, Lester from South Africa wrote: “Norway gives me so much but asks so little in return. A few hundred hours of language training is well worth living in one of the best countries in the world.” 

Others also wrote that B1 was a reasonably attainable level if you put in a couple of hours a week to reach the language requirements.  

However, not everyone felt the same. A common frustration among those who think that the Norwegian language requirements would hamper their chances of becoming a Norwegian citizen was that they thought the new requirements moved the goalposts. 

A reader from Brazil said that the process led them to decide to leave Norway for good.

“This process (applying for citizenship) became so frustrating for me. It was hard for me to pass Norwegian A2 level. Then when everything was ready for me to apply for citizenship, they changed the (residence) rule from 7 to 8 years and now (new) language (requirements). I got totally discouraged and now decided that I will move out of Norway as well,” the reader wrote. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

NORWEGIAN LANGUAGE

Bergensk: A beginner’s guide to the Bergen dialect

So, you've armed yourself with Norwegian language courses and have acquired some proficiency in Norwegian – but now you're heading to Bergen. Prepare to have your linguistic confidence shattered.

Bergensk: A beginner's guide to the Bergen dialect

Most people who want to move to Norway spend some time trying to learn the language. Or they move and take steps to learn the language to feel more settled in. 

They take Norwegian language courses, watch educational YouTube videos, download Duolingo, join groups of like-minded people, and – eventually – they succeed in reaching at least a rudimentary mastery of the language.

Armed with your newly-acquired language skills, you might think you’re now ready to impress the locals in most Norwegian cities with your linguistic prowess.

You’ve heard nice things about Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city. It has amazing nature, it’s an international student hub, and there’s a lot of history and culture to enjoy in the city. It’s not only a great place to live, work and study but also to live. 

Now you’re thinking you might just move to (or visit) Bergen and hit the ground running (that is, swiftly expand your social circle, get job interviews, and use your Norwegian language skills to sort out the day-to-day aspects of city life).

Nice plan you have there… Would be a shame if something got in the way.

The Bergen dialect – Bergensk

To start off with a quote from American filmmaker Woody Allen, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

If you’ve decided to make Bergen your home (at least for a while), you’ll be in for quite a surprise, especially if you’re moving to or visiting Bergen from eastern Norway.

Note that, in a number of foreign language schools (even those in Bergen), the Norwegian language taught is very close to the eastern, Oslo dialect.

There are stories of people investing more than 40,000 kroner in Norwegian language courses, reaching B1/B2, and then having trouble understanding basic conversation among Bergen locals after moving to the city.

There’s no need to feel depressed. Even Norwegians from other parts of the country can sometimes have problems understanding Bergensk. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Don’t expect the locals to switch to another dialect, however – they’re quite proud of the Bergen one. Therefore, you should take the time to upgrade your Norwegian language skills accordingly.

What makes Bergensk different?

One of the key obstacles that can prevent you from making a smooth transition between the Oslo and the Bergen dialect is pronunciation.

The Bergen dialect is more similar to Nynorsk (one of the two written standards of the Norwegian language, along with Bokmål) in pronunciation.

As online language school Skapago points out, the dialect stands out due to the pronunciation of “r” and the kj-sound. As most grammar guides will let you know, in the Bergensk dialect, the “r” is pronounced as a uvular “r,” not with the rolling pronunciation you’ll find in eastern and northern Norway.

Furthermore, since only dialects with a rolling r-sound can have retroflex sounds (which entails “rd,” “rl,” “rn,” “rs,” and “rt” merging into one sound) the Bergensk dialect does not have any of those sounds.

Instead, Skapago notes, these letter combinations are pronounced separately, as well as the combination of “sl,” which is usually pronounced “sh+l” in Oslo. Elsewhere, it is pronounced “s+l”.

Another interesting aspect of the Bergensk dialect is the pronunciation of the kj-sound. Usually, in Norwegian, this combination of letters has a distinct pronunciation. However, in Bergensk, the sound has merged with the sounds “sj” or “skj,” and is pronounced “sh” in all instances.

The words “kjøtt” (meat) and “kjøpe” (buy) and “ikkje” (not/does not – the Bergensk and Nynorsk form of “ikke”) are pronounced “shøtt,” “shøpe,” and “ishe.” This pronunciation is becoming more common across the country and growing in popularity among young Norwegians.

Furthermore, the Bergen dialect is one of two dialects in Norway with only two grammatical genders – other dialects in the country have three grammatical genders.

You should expect the transition to Bergensk to take a couple of months and might even want to consider a local language course “booster” (especially one that focuses on the dialect) to make the entire process as painless as possible.

You can find a short primer on Bergen dialect slang, compiled by the Bergen Municipality, here (in Norwegian).

Some common expressions

Study Bergen, an organisation aiming to promote Bergen as a student city, has put together a list of common expressions in Bergensk that you’ll likely hear around town after relocating.

Here are a few of the expressions they shared:

Ke det gåri (in Bokmål: “Hva skjer?”): What’s up?

Den e’ brun (in Bokmål: “Den er grei”): That’s fine.

Knall i padden (in Bokmål: “Kjempebra”/”kult”/”veldig gøy”): It’s super fun!

Belite seg (in Bokmål: “Gi seg”): Give up or admit that you were wrong.

Hallaien (in Bokmål: “Hallo”/”hei”): Hello!

SHOW COMMENTS