Norway: First Name or Title?

2015-06-12

FIRST NAME OR TITLE?

Norwegians introduce themselves with their first name followed by their surname.

Many Norwegians have a double first name and both are used as a single name. Listen carefully when they introduce themselves. They may use both, but do not shorten their names. For example, Per Erik Larssen is ‘Per Erik’ when you move to first name terms, not ‘Per’.

For business purposes, Norwegians sometimes introduce themselves by title if expected to do so.

When a relationship has been established, Norwegians usually move onto a more informal footing. This depends, of course, on the situation. When people are well acquainted, they use first names if it feels natural.

Elderly people expect a more formal tone. Address an elderly lady whom you do not know well using her formal title: Fru Olsen, for example.

Titles such as ‘Doctor’ are used, but their use depends on where you live and which social level you are associated with. People in some districts are more formal and titles are of more importance than in other districts of Norway. There is also a difference between generations; older people tend to use titles more than the young.

Calling someone ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’, or even ‘Mr’ is very formal and could create an awkward pause. Norwegians are quite happy if courtesy titles are dropped. Modern Norwegians would probably not thank you for addressing them as ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss.’ First names are usually enough.