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Danish - interesting facts

 

Approximately 6 million people worldwide, roughly 0.1% of the global population, are native Danish speakers despite being spoken by less than 0.1% of the world's inhabitants, Danish ranks just outside of the top hundred most widely spoken languages.

Danish is the official language of Denmark and the Faroe Islands and is also recognised as a minority language in Germany and Greenland.

The Danish language is part of the Germanic family, specifically the North Germanic subgroup. Like Swedish, it originated from Old Norse and began evolving into a separate language around the 11th century. It was initially written in the Latin alphabet, replacing the used runic script. One of the oldest pieces of Danish literature is the 13th-century Codex Holmiensis, which includes the Jutland Law enforced for the next four centuries. The modern Danish language began in the 17th century, based on the Zealand dialect. Today, the Danish Language Council regulates language-related matters.

There are three main dialectal groups in the Danish language: East Danish (østdansk), Insular Danish (ødansk), and Jutlandic (jysk). Due to the high proportion of Danes living in the Copenhagen metropolitan area, the capital's dialect has a high social prestige, while local variants gradually lose their importance.

Danish shares genetic similarities with Swedish and Norwegian (Bokmål), and the three languages are considered mutually intelligible. This is evidenced by the fact that Danes can effectively communicate in their native language with residents of Sweden and Norway.

Danish is one of the official languages of the European Union and the Nordic Council.

A distinguishing feature of Danish among other languages is the enormous number of vowels. There are 27, including 12 long, 13 short, and two schwa vowels, which only occur in unaccented syllables. A classic example of the high frequency of vowels is a sentence in the Jutland dialect composed entirely of single-vowel words: "A e u o æ ø i æ å", meaning "I am on the island (located) on the river."

Much like in Swedish, definite articles (equivalent to 'the' in English) are attached to the end of the noun, e.g. 'bil' (car) → 'bilen'.

Danish grammar features two grammatical genders: common (resulting from the combination of masculine and feminine) and neuter.

A characteristic feature of the Danish lexis is the occurrence of extremely long compound nouns. For example, one of the longest words in this language, a 30-letter noun 'ejendomsavancebeskatningsloven', corresponds to the phrase 'capital gains tax law' in English.

Meanwhile, due to a cluster of seven consonants, one of the most difficult Danish words to pronounce is 'angstskrig' (scream of fear).

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Origin of the Danish language

Danish belongs to the group of Germanic languages, which also includes English, German and Swedish. Therefore, Polish speakers who are representatives of Slavic languages may discover some similarities in structure and vocabulary between Danish and other Germanic languages.

Danish phonetics

The Danish language has several phonetic features that can be difficult for Polish speakers to master. Particularly characteristic are the so-called pharyngeal consonants, which do not appear in Polish. The pronunciation of these sounds may require additional practice.

Danish alphabet

The Danish alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet but contains three additional letters: Æ, Ø, Å. Knowledge of these characters and their pronunciation is crucial for learning Danish and understanding the texts in that language.

Irregular verbs

As in other Germanic languages, there are many irregular verbs in Danish. Mastering their variety can be challenging for learners, but it is crucial for fluent communication in Danish.

Grammatical types

In Danish, there are two grammatical types: common (utrum) and nijaki (neutrum). Unlike Polish, which has three grammatical types, Danish does not have a distinct female genus.

Scandinavian mutual understanding

Danish speakers can often communicate with Swedish and Norwegian speakers due to the high degree of mutual understanding between these languages. In practice, learning Danish can also make communicating in other Scandinavian languages easier.

Danish in Literature

Danish literature has a rich history and many excellent authors, such as Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Karen Blixen. Knowledge of the Danish language allows direct contact with their work, which can be interesting for people fascinated by literature or philosophy.

Danish Language in Music

The Danish music scene is diverse and rich in talent. Listening to Danish performers such as Volbeat, MØ or Lukas Graham can help you learn the language by understanding the lyrics of the songs. In addition, knowledge of the Danish language allows you to discover local artists who have not yet gained international fame.

Danish in Business

Denmark has a high standard of living and a dynamic labour market. Knowledge of the Danish language can be an asset for people looking for a job or wanting to do business with partners from Denmark. Knowledge of Danish can also facilitate communication in companies with an international character, where the working language is often English, but it is worth knowing the local realities and language.

Danish in the Media

Mastering the Danish language allows you to use local media such as newspapers, television or the Internet. This gives you the opportunity to learn about Danish culture and current events first hand. For those interested in learning foreign languages, media tracking in Danish can be a valuable source of information and language practice.

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Essential Danish

 

English

Danish

yes ja
no nej
please Jeg vil gerne have
thank you tak
I'm sorry undskyld
good morning god morgen/god dag
good evening god aften
goodbye god nat
good night farvel
hi davs
how are you?  Hvordan går det?
well godt
My name is... Jeg hedder…
I don't understand Jeg forstår ikke
Jestem z Polski Jeg kommer fra Polen

 

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