The English language has certainly been a heavy influence on many languages around the world – including modern Norwegian. Thanks to ‘internationalisation’ from the Internet, TV and film, Norwegians frequently use words like baby, drink, cool, jeans, web and chips – to name a few.
But once upon a time it was the other way around. Many English words actually come from old Norse language – brought by Vikings to England in medieval times. Here are some words you have probably uttered without realizing you are speaking Norwegian!
Anger – from angr (“trouble, affliction”)
Bag – from baggi. Norwegians use the word bag today but, ironically, with an English pronounciation. The word has actually been re-imported from English!
Berserk – from berserkr (“bare shirt”). Fierce warriors who fought without armour (and ate magic mushrooms for courage).
Crawl – from krafla (“to claw”).
Dirt – from drit (“feces”).
Gun – from gunn (“war, battle”)
Hell – from Hel, the ruler of the Underworld in Norse mythology.
Hit – from hitta (“find”). Another example of a re-imported word.
Husband – from husbondi (“master of the house”).
Knife – from kniv, kvifr. You may have guessed this one already. In fact, any word starting with kn- is probably from old Norse.
Raft – from raptr (“log”). Today we use the (English) word rafting in Norway when talking about the popular sport.
Reindeer – from hreindyri. In modern Norwegian: reinsdyr.
Scare – from skirra (“to frighten”).
Steak – from steik, steikja (“to cook, roast”). Curiously, the word steak house is common in Norway today.
Town – from tun, referring to the open space between buildings.
Ugly – from uggligr (“dreadful”).