Aker – from farm to fame


The word Aker comes up a lot in and around Oslo, and after a brief discussion about it yesterday, it struck me that using familiar names can help us to learn less familiar vocabulary.

The word comes from old Norse for “acre” and was the name of an old farm, which helped to name a church (the old Aker church) which then went on to name the district and spawn the other things we know and love today. You can read more about that on the Wikipedia page.

Words to learn that “Aker” can help us to remember

  • Hus = House – You should be familiar with Akershus (county), literally “the House of Aker” but don’t read too much into that without reading the following reference also:
  • Festning = Fortress – Akershus Festning is the fortress overlooking the Oslo Fjord. It’s name fully expanded means something like “The fortified house of Aker”. The district of Akershus was named after the fortress, not the other way around!
  • Elv = River (feminine so “the river” is “elva”) – Akerselva is the river that runs through Oslo, literally “the river of Aker”
  • Østre = Eastern – one of the main roads running in an Easterly direction out of Oslo parallel to the E6 is Østre Aker Vei, literally “Eastern Aker road”. We may already know that “Øst” means “East” so this helps us to remember the method to convert to “Eastern”.
  • Brygge = Jetty – You need to be in the marine industry to know exactly how this would translate in English (wharf, quay, mooring, dock, etc), but jetty is probably closest. Situated in the Oslo habour is the trendy district of Aker Brygge where you will find shops, restaurants, apartments and more. (You should also be aware that Brygge can be a verb – to brew).
  • Sykehus = Hospital – “Aker Sykehus” and “Akershus sykehus” (Known as A-hus) are 2 of the hospitals serving Akershus.
  • Gamle Kirke = Old church – Gamle Aker kirke is one of the reasons for the name, and is the oldest existing building in Oslo.
  • Bakke = Hill – Akersbakken is the hill that Gamle Aker Kirke resides on, and also the name of the adjacent road


Hopefully reading some interesting facts and making some connections in your brain between vocabulary and real world situations will help to improve your (and my) Norwegian. I have certainly learned a few things from producing this blog post, and I hope you do from reading it 🙂

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