Norwegian: Muffins - singular or plural - or - both


Senior Member
English - British
I know that dictionaries say the word is inflected muffins (singular), muffinsen (definite article), muffinser (plural). However, doing a Google suggests to me that "muffins" is also commonly used as a plural form, as well as "muffinser". In fact NAOB itself, after saying the plural form is "muffinser", gives the following examples:
  • baker Stinton … trakk en plate nybakte muffins ut av ovnen i sitt bakeri (VG 04.02.1958/7)

  • hver fredag er det bakedag, da lager ungene hjemmebakte muffins (Aftenposten 12.12.1987/27)
I'd be interested in comments on this. For example, is it because people know that it is plural in English, and are not sure how it should be used in Norwegian, or is it something more general to do with the "s" ending?

(I also wonder what those muffins were in the Norway of 1958. In Britain, anything called a muffin back then would not be a cake!)
  • I think I usually say "en muffin" and "to muffins" myself, but maybe not consistently.

    As you know, Norwegian uses several English loan words that are plural in English but used as a singular word in Norwegian, such as "en pins" and "en caps". Muffins seem to follow that pattern.

    But I don't think we should take the dictionary form "en muffins" for granted. Here is the story of how "en muffins" got into Norwegian dictionaries: according to this blog, the dictionary editor phoned a bakery to find the correct form, and the bakers just laughed at "en muffin".
    Skal det være en muffins? | Clue Norge AS

    My guess is that Norwegians (at least those with good English skills) might regard "en muffins" as wrong -- an incorrect way to use a loan word -- since this is a plural form in English. Most of us don't bother with checking what the dictionary or the bakers say.

    I also wonder what those muffins were in the Norway of 1958.

    As far as I can remember, "muffins" in Norway has always been the American-style cupcakes. But I can't say anything about 1958, I wasn't born then.
    My faith in dictionaries is now totally destroyed 😱

    In the unlikely event I ever need to use the Nowegian plural of "muffins" (or is it "muffin"?), I think I shall use "muffins". That's on the basis of serious research - googling, looking at the actual examples of usage in NAOB, and asking on a couple of internet forums.
    My guess is that the muffins in Norway in the 1950s were similar to the Swedish ones, made from a sponge cake recipe and baked in small paper cupcake forms. They were made that way until the 1990s when the American cupcakes made their entrance.
    See: Muffins - som förr!
    Thanks, AutumnOwl. I think you are right. When you mentioned it, I remember those. They were smaller than the American muffins we know today.
    So it sounds like American muffins were sort of related to Scandinavian ones, in as much as they were both cakes made in small paper cups. This is in contrast to muffins in England, which used to be a more like bread.
    It's important to keep in mind the difference between official norms and actual usage. They don't always coincide.

    In the huge HaBiT corpus for Bokmål, some selected phrases have numbers of hits as follows:
    en muffin: 77
    en muffins: 204
    muffinen: 10
    muffinsen: 239
    muffiner: 8
    muffinser: 120
    noen muffinser: 0
    noen muffiner: 0
    noen muffins: 62 (may also be singular)
    mange muffiner: 0
    mange muffinser: 4
    mange muffins: 18
    muffinene: 3
    muffinsene: 1036

    The most common inflection seems to be:
    (en) muffins - muffinsen - (flere) muffins - muffinsene