Danish Language Facts

Danish Language Facts

1. The Origins

Danish is a North Germanic language and is derived from Old Norse. Originally the same language as Swedish, Old Danish evolved into Medieval Danish in the 12th century. In 1550, the orthographic choices of Christiern Pedersen for translating the Bible into Danish set the writing standards for Danish.

2. The Speakers

Danish is spoken by around 6 million speakers and is an official language in Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

3. The Similarities

Danish speakers can actually pretend to speak three languages. Indeed, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are all derived from Old Norse. As a result, they share strong similarities and are mutually intelligible.

4. The Vowels

There are three extra vowels in Danish compared to English: Æ, Ø and Å. Danish also has an extensive number of vowel phonemes – 27 in total.

5. The Longest Word

Just like German, words can be added together to form very long words in Danish. Speciallægepraksisplanlægningsstabiliseringsperiode, meaning “period of plan stabilising for a specialist doctor’s practice”, is the longest Danish word. Other examples include:

  • multiplikationsudregningstabelshæfteopbevaringsreolsproduktionsfacilitet (“production facility of storage shelves of boxes for notebooks for the calculations of multiplication tables”);
  • Gedebukkebensoverogundergeneralkrigskommandersergenten (“General-clothes-press-inspector-head-superintendent-Goat-legs”), the latter having been created by the famous writer Hans Christian Andersen.
 

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