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The language situation in the Nordic countries

The Nordic countries consist of Denmark,Faroe Islands, Greenland, Finland, Åland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Faroe Islands and Greenland are both part of the Kingdom of Denmark, whereas Åland is part of the Republic of Finland.

The official languages spoken within the area are Danish, Faeroese, Finnish, Greenlandic, Icelandic, Norwegian (Bokmål and Nynorsk), Sami and Swedish. Many of these languages are related. There are a number of bilingual and multilingual communities in the Nordic area, and wide-ranging co-operation between the countries has led to a long tradition of translation and interpretation.


There is a long tradition of terminology work in the Nordic countries. Indeed, the first work on technical terminology work was carried out as early as the end of the 19th century. Terminology work on a regular basis dates back in Iceland to the beginning of 1900 and in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to the 1940's.

The starting point for Nordterm was in 1976 when representatives from terminology groups in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden met in Stockholm for the first time. This led to a number of joint courses and informal discussions about various projects. There was a great need for co-operation among the Nordic countries in terminology work, and this type of co-operation proved to be very efficient. In 1987 an administrative framework was established for Nordterm by writing the statutes; the most recent changes to them were made in 2007.