Norwegians sick of English in adverts: report

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Arnfinn Muruvik Vonen, director of the Norwegian Language Council (Photo: Thomas Winje Øijord/Scanpix)
12:07 CEST+02:00
Growing numbers of Norwegians think the English language has become all too prevalent in advertising, according to a report from the Language Council of Norway.

Two thirds of the respondents in a Language Council (Språkrådet) survey said they would prefer all advertising and marketing materials to be produced solely in Norwegian.

The report also shows that fewer business executives and members of the public believe the use of English benefits sales.

However, Norwegian remains under “continual pressure from English in many areas of society”, according to the council’s 2012 status report.

Council chief Arnfinn Muruvik Vonen noted that many firms with an international profile, including state-owned companies, are keen to avoid having to publish their annual reports in Norwegian.

“Norwegian is under major pressure both in the internationally-oriented business sector and in higher education and research. It’s important to tackle this and enter into a dialogue with the sectors concerned,” said Vonen.

Studies show that even students who believe they have an excellent grasp of the language often have major difficulties learning through English. One Swedish study found that physics students taught using English asked fewer questions, answered fewer questions and stopped taking notes.

“Many of us are not as good at English as we think. In any case, we are a lot worse at English than we are at Norwegian. Consequently, we risk making more mistakes and doing our jobs less well in many ways if English is the language used,” said Vonen.

In other findings, the report notes that the use of social media is likely to lead to changes in language usage that will gradually gain a foothold in the offline environment.

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A large part of the report meanwhile is dedicated to Nynorsk, or New Norwegian, a language developed in the 19th century and still the less widely used of the two national tongues. A written alternative to Bokmål, the majority language, Nynorsk has lost ground as the language used in schools, the report says.

The newer language did however gain ground online, with the Nynorsk version of Wikipedia growing at the twice the rate of the Bokmål version in 2011, according to the Language Council.   

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