Words of the year

Språkrådet’s top 10 new Norwegian words

Photo: Giorgio Montersino / Wikimedia
A woman swims in a burkini.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

Each year Språkrådet (The Language Council of Norway) and Professor Gisle Andersen of the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communications of the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) compile a list of the top ten most significant new words added to the language.

In 2014, the most significant new word was fremmedkriger (foreign warrior), designating a person who travels abroad to fight in a foreign war, usually on the basis of belief and conviction.

In 2015, the most significant new word was the expression Det grønne skiftet (The green shift), designating a shift of environmental policy toward greener alternatives.

In 2016, the most significant new word is hverdagsintegrering (everyday integration) that designates the everyday efforts of ordinary residents to integrate refugees and immigrants into society, in short connoting that integration is primarily a ground-up incentive, not a governmentally administered one. It rapidly gained general usage, as Prime Minister Erna Solberg was the first to make it public in her New Year’s Eve televised address to the people. The Prime Minister was born and brought up in Bergen and consequently speaks Bokmål, but there is a Nynorsk equivalent word, kvardagsintegrering. Seven of the ten new words have the same spellings in Nynorsk as in Bokmål, while three are spelled differently in Nynorsk than in Bokmål.

Of the nine other new words following first-place hverdagsintegrering, eight are either loanwords from English or translations of newer words in English:

2) (“dense” or “dull”), an adjective applied to a person or situation, perhaps via loan from the spoken Arabic la (no!), used in informal urban youth slang.

3) postfaktuell (post-factual), a translation from English, designating a political culture in which debate is shaped by appeals to emotions.

4) fleksitarianer (flexitarian), a translation from English, describing a person who is mostly a vegetarian but occasionally eats meat or fish; Nynorsk equivalent fleksitarianar.

5) parallellsamfunn (parallel society), a translation from English designating the self-organization of an ethnic or religious minority; in Norway usually connotes the Islamic immigrant society.

6) brexit, a direct loanword from the British “brexit” referring to the June 23, 2016, referendum in Britain in which the citizenry voted to leave the European Union (EU).

7) formidlingsøkonomi (dissemination economy), a translation from English designating newer forms of transactions via new platforms such as apps.

8) pokestopp, a direct loanword from the English pokestop, designating a stop in the Pokémon video game, spelled with two final p’s in Bokmål but only one final p in Nynorsk.

9) burkini, a direct loanword from the British “burkini,” a portmanteau of burka and bikini, a type of whole-body swimsuit for women intended to conform with Islamic traditions of modest female clothing.

10) det mørke nettet (“dark web” or “dark net”), part of the internet accessible via dedicated software or authorization and not indexed by search engines.

Further reading: “Årets ord: hverdagsintegrering” (Word of the year: Everyday integration), Language Council of Norway press release, December 2016, link: www.sprakradet.no/Vi-og-vart/hva-skjer/Aktuelt/2016/arets-ord-hverdagsintegrering (Norwegian).

M. Michael Brady was educated as a scientist and with time turned to writing and translating.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 13, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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