Notes on Danish for English Speakers


These notes are the result of my experiences as an enthusiastic but slow learner of Danish during the year 1999 in Odense, Denmark. Thanks are due to my many Danish friends for their good natured and patient help with their language. While I hope you will find some useful information here, these pages are basically for fun and should not be mistaken for a serious or comprehensive guide to the Danish language.

Danish is one of the four modern Scandinavian languages together with Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic. All four languages are closely related, but Danish and Norwegian have a slightly simpler grammar than Swedish and Danish has the most idiosyncratic and least phonetic pronunciation of the four. English speakers may find Danish relatively easy to learn from a grammatical point of view but somewhat harder to hear and to pronounce. That has certainly been my experience. This page doesn't cover pronunciation but there are some brief but excellent notes on pronunciation on the DK Headlines Learn Danish page.

Danish has three letters, all vowels, which are not in English, namely æ, ø and å. This gives a clue that the spoken Danish language is rich in vowels. On the other hand some of the English letters, especially x and z, are very little used. Hard "c"s change to "k" and "x" usually goes to "ks" as eksamen or eksempel.

Danish and English both belong to the Germanic family of languages so Danish shares many words with German and English. English speakers will recognize many "loan words" in Danish which have been borrowed from English in recent times as English has become an international language. But the deeper connections between Danish and English go back to the Vikings and before that to the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who settled Britain before Roman times.






Copyright © Gordon Smyth