Many people are surprised when they find out that there are 2 different forms of written and spoken Norwegian in Norway: Bokmål and Nynorsk, which are the languages that are used for official administration such as in churches and schools and on television and the radio. The two of them are very similar whilst the Sami language is of a totally different origin. Bokmål literally means “book tongue” and Nynorsk is “new Norwegian”. Both provide standards for how to write Norwegian, but none of them set any rules on how to speak it. Thus, there is no officially-sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian. Most Norwegians speak their own dialect in all circumstances.
Norwegians are educated in both Bokmål and Nynorsk and the two forms of the Norwegian language are both used in public administration, in schools, churches, and on the radio and television. Together with neighbours Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of fairly mutually intelligible local and regional variants called “Scandinavian languages” which constituted the North Germanic language group together with Icelandic, Faroese and some other extinct languages.
The third language spoken in Norway is Sami, which is spoken by the indigenous people of Norway and is considered to have been formed 2,000-3,000 years ago around Karelia (now Russia) as proto-Samic, and between 1,000 B.C. to 700 A.D in its present form. It is considered to be equal to the other two languages in status and it is also spoken in parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia, reaching from the southern part of central Scandinavia in the southwest to the tip of the Kola Peninsula in the east. Sami is strongly dialectal and some varieties spoken in the Northern part of Scandinavia are not intelligible to speakers of other dialects.