Danish language
Overview
 
Danish is a North Germanic language
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 spoken by around six million
Million
One million or one thousand thousand, is the natural number following 999,999 and preceding 1,000,001. The word is derived from the early Italian millione , from mille, "thousand", plus the augmentative suffix -one.In scientific notation, it is written as or just 106...

 people, principally in the country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where it holds the status of minority language. Danish is a mandatory subject in school in the Danish crown territories of the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 (where it is also an official language after Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

) and Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 (where, however, the only official language since 2009 is Kalaallisut), as well as the former crown holding of Iceland
Education in Iceland
The system of education in Iceland is divided in four levels: playschool, compulsory, upper secondary and higher, and is similar to that of other Nordic countries. Education is mandatory for children aged 6–16. Most institutions are funded by the state; there are very few private schools in the...

.
Encyclopedia
Danish is a North Germanic language
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

 spoken by around six million
Million
One million or one thousand thousand, is the natural number following 999,999 and preceding 1,000,001. The word is derived from the early Italian millione , from mille, "thousand", plus the augmentative suffix -one.In scientific notation, it is written as or just 106...

 people, principally in the country
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where it holds the status of minority language. Danish is a mandatory subject in school in the Danish crown territories of the Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 (where it is also an official language after Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

) and Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 (where, however, the only official language since 2009 is Kalaallisut), as well as the former crown holding of Iceland
Education in Iceland
The system of education in Iceland is divided in four levels: playschool, compulsory, upper secondary and higher, and is similar to that of other Nordic countries. Education is mandatory for children aged 6–16. Most institutions are funded by the state; there are very few private schools in the...

. There are also Danish language communities in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, the U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. Danish is mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 (see "Classification").

Classification

Danish, together with Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

, derives from the East Norse dialect group, while the old Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 dialects before the influence of Danish and Bokmål
Bokmål
Bokmål is one of two official Norwegian written standard languages, the other being Nynorsk. Bokmål is used by 85–90% of the population in Norway, and is the standard most commonly taught to foreign students of the Norwegian language....

 is classified as a West Norse language together with Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 and Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

. A more recent classification based on mutual intelligibility
Mutual intelligibility
In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is recognized as a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related languages can readily understand each other without intentional study or extraordinary effort...

 separates modern spoken Danish, Norwegian and Swedish into a Mainland Scandinavian group while Icelandic and Faroese are placed in a separate category labeled Insular Scandinavian.

Written Danish and Norwegian Bokmål
Bokmål
Bokmål is one of two official Norwegian written standard languages, the other being Nynorsk. Bokmål is used by 85–90% of the population in Norway, and is the standard most commonly taught to foreign students of the Norwegian language....

 are particularly close, though the phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

 (that is, the system of relationships among the speech sounds that constitute the fundamental components of the language) and the prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

 (the patterns of stress and intonation) differ somewhat. Proficient speakers of any of the three languages can understand the others, though studies have shown that speakers of Norwegian generally understand both Danish and Swedish far better than Swedes or Danes understand each other. Both Swedes and Danes also understand Norwegian better than they understand each other's languages.

History

By the 8th century, the common Germanic language of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, Proto-Norse, had undergone some changes and evolved into Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

. This language began to undergo new changes that did not spread to all of Scandinavia, which resulted in the appearance of two similar dialects, Old West Norse (Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

) and Old East Norse (Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

).

Old East Norse is in Sweden called Runic Swedish and in east Denmark Runic Danish, but until the 12th century, the dialect was roughly the same in the two countries. The dialects are called runic because the main body of text appears in the runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. Unlike Proto-Norse, which was written with the Elder Futhark
Elder Futhark
The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic and Migration period Germanic dialects of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones...

 alphabet, Old Norse was written with the Younger Futhark
Younger Futhark
The Younger Futhark, also called Scandinavian runes, is a runic alphabet, a reduced form of the Elder Futhark, consisting of only 16 characters, in use from ca. 800 CE...

 alphabet, which only had 16 letters. Due to the limited number of runes, some runes were used for a range of phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s, such as the rune for the vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

 u which was also used for the vowels o, ø and y, and the rune for i which was also used for e.

A change that separated Old East Norse (Runic Swedish/Danish) from Old West Norse was the change of the diphthong
Diphthong
A diphthong , also known as a gliding vowel, refers to two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: That is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel...

 æi (Old West Norse ei) to the monophthong
Monophthong
A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

 e, as in stæin to sten. This is reflected in runic inscriptions where the older read stain and the later stin. There was also a change of au as in dauðr into ø as in døðr. This change is shown in runic inscriptions as a change from tauþr into tuþr. Moreover, the øy (Old West Norse ey) diphthong changed into ø as well, as in the Old Norse word for "island".

Some famous authors of works in Danish are existential
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 philosopher Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was a critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel...

, prolific fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

 author Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."...

, and playwright Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg, Baron of Holberg was a writer, essayist, philosopher, historian and playwright born in Bergen, Norway, during the time of the Dano-Norwegian double monarchy, who spent most of his adult life in Denmark. He was influenced by Humanism, the Enlightenment and the Baroque...

. Three 20th century Danish authors have become Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 laureates in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

: Karl Adolph Gjellerup
Karl Adolph Gjellerup
Karl Gjellerup was a Danish poet and novelist who together with his compatriot Henrik Pontoppidan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917. He belonged to the Modern Break-Through. He occasionally used the pseudonym Epigonos.Gjellerup was the son of a vicar in Zealand and grew up in a national...

 and Henrik Pontoppidan
Henrik Pontoppidan
Henrik Pontoppidan was a realist writer who shared with Karl Gjellerup the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1917 for "his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark." Pontoppidan's novels and short stories — informed with a desire for social progress but despairing, later in his...

 (joint recipients in 1917) and Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
*Not to be confused with German author Wilhelm Jensen .Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, in Denmark always called Johannes V. Jensen, was a Danish author, often considered the first great Danish writer of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1944...

 (awarded 1944).

Old East Norse was once widely spoken in the northeast counties of England. Many words derived from Norse, such as "gate" (gade) for street, still survive in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 and the East Midlands (parts of eastern England)
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

 colonized by Danish Vikings. The city of York
York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

 was once the Viking settlement of Jorvik. Several other English words also derive from Old East Norse, for example, "knife" (kniv), "husband" (husbond), "call" (kalde) and "egg" (æg). The suffix "-by" for 'town' is common in place names in Yorkshire and the East Midlands that is, Selby, Whitby, Derby and Grimsby. The word dale in Yorkshire and Derbyshire is commonly used in place of valley.

The first printed book in Danish dates from 1495. The first complete translation of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in Danish was published in October 1550.

Geographical distribution

Danish is the national language of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, and one of two official languages of the Faroes
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 (alongside Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

). Until 2009, it had also been one of two official languages of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 (alongside Greenlandic). Danish is widely spoken in Greenland, and an unknown portion of the native Greenlandic population has Danish as their first language. In addition, there is a small community of Danish speakers in Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig denotes the southern half of the former Duchy of Schleswig on the Jutland Peninsula. The geographical area today covers the thirty or forty northernmost kilometers of Germany up to the Flensburg Fjord, where it borders on Denmark...

, the portion of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 bordering Denmark, where it is an officially recognized regional language
Regional language
A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a nation state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area....

, just as German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 is north of the border. Furthermore, Danish is one of the official languages of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and one of the working languages of the Nordic Council
Nordic Council
The Nordic Council is a geo-political, inter-parliamentary forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries. It was established following World War II and its first concrete result was the introduction in 1952 of a common labour market and free movement across borders without passports for the...

. Under the Nordic Language Convention
Nordic Language Convention
The Nordic Language Convention is a convention of linguistic rights which came into force on 1 March 1987, under the auspices of the Nordic Council. Under the Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in...

, citizens of the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

 speaking Danish have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable for any interpretation
Interpreting
Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages...

 or translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 costs.

There is no law stipulating an official language for Denmark, making Danish the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 language only. The Code of Civil Procedure does, however, lay down Danish as the language of the courts. Since 1997 public authorities have been obliged to observe the official spelling by way of the Orthography Law.

Dialects

Standard Danish (rigsdansk) is the language based on dialects spoken in and around the capital, Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. Unlike Swedish and Norwegian, Danish does not have more than one regional speech norm. More than 25% of all Danish speakers live in the metropolitan area of the capital and most government agencies, institutions and major businesses keep their main offices in Copenhagen, something that has resulted in a very homogeneous national speech norm. In contrast, though Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 (Norway) and Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 (Sweden) are quite dominant in terms of speech standards, cities like Bergen, Göteborg and the Malmö
Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

-Lund
Lund
-Main sights:During the 12th and 13th centuries, when the town was the seat of the archbishop, many churches and monasteries were built. At its peak, Lund had 27 churches, but most of them were demolished as result of the Reformation in 1536. Several medieval buildings remain, including Lund...

 region are large and influential enough to create secondary regional norms, making the standard language more varied than is the case with Danish. The general agreement is that Standard Danish is based on a form of Copenhagen dialect, but the specific norm, as with most language norms, is difficult to pinpoint for both laypeople and scholars. Historically Standard Danish emerged as a compromise between the dialect of Zealand and Scania. The first layers of it can be seen in east Danish provincial law texts such as Skånske Lov
Scanian Law
Scanian law is the oldest Danish provincial law and one of the first Nordic provincial laws to be written down. It was used in the geographic region of Danish Skåneland, which at the time included Scania, Halland, Blekinge and the island of Bornholm. It was also used for a short period on the...

, just as we can recognize west Danish in laws from the same ages in Jyske Lov.

Despite the relative cultural monopoly of the capital and the centralized government, the divided geography of the country allowed distinct rural dialects to flourish during the centuries. Such "genuine" dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s were formerly spoken by a vast majority of the population, but have declined much since the 1960s. They still exist in communities out in the countryside, but most speakers in these areas generally speak a regionalized form of Standard Danish, when speaking with one who speaks to them in that same standard. Usually an adaptation of the local dialect to rigsdansk is spoken, though code-switching
Code-switching
In linguistics, code-switching is the concurrent use of more than one language, or language variety, in conversation. Multilinguals—people who speak more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other...

 between the standard-like norm and a distinct dialect is common.

Danish is divided into three distinct dialect groups, which are further subdivided in about 30 dialektområder:
  • Insular Danish (ømål), including dialects of the Danish islands of Zealand, Funen, Lolland, Falster, and Møn
  • Jutlandic
    Jutlandic
    Jutlandic or Jutish is a term for the western dialects of Danish, spoken on the peninsula of Jutland....

     (jysk), further divided in North, East, West and South Jutlandic
  • Bornholmsk dialect (Bornholmian) the dialect of the island of Bornholm
    Bornholm
    Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...



The term Eastern Danish is occasionally used for Bornholmian, but including the dialects of Scania (particularly in a historical context). The background for this lies in the loss of the originally Danish provinces of Blekinge
Blekinge
' is one of the traditional provinces of Sweden , situated in the south of the country. It borders Småland, Scania and the Baltic Sea.The name "Blekinge" comes from the adjective bleke, which corresponds to the nautical term for "dead calm"....

, Halland
Halland
' is one of the traditional provinces of Sweden , on the western coast of Sweden. It borders Västergötland, Småland, Scania and the sea of Kattegat.-Administration:...

 and Scania
Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

 to Sweden in 1658. The island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 also belongs to this group, but has remained Danish. This means that the spoken language in this part of Sweden is descended from a regional variant of Danish, while the written language used is standard Swedish, which evolved in Uppsala and Stockholm. Similarly, the Norwegian language is classified as a descendant of West Norse, while the written language used by the vast majority in Norway is derived from an older variant of standard Danish. A few generations ago, the classical dialects spoken in the southern Swedish provinces could still be argued to be more Eastern Danish than Swedish, being similar to the dialect of Bornholm. Today influx of Standard Swedish vocabulary has generally meant that Scanian and Bornholmian are closer to the modern national standards than to each other. The Bornholmian dialect has also maintained to this day many ancient features, such as a distinction between three grammatical gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

s, which the central Insular Danish dialects gave up during the 20th century. Standard Danish has two genders and the definite form of nouns is formed by the use of suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

es, while Western Jutlandic has only one gender and the definite form of nouns uses an article before the noun itself, in the same fashion as West Germanic languages
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

.
Today, Standard Danish is most similar to the Insular Danish dialect group.

Sound system

The sound system of Danish is in many ways unique among the world's languages. It is quite prone to considerable reduction and assimilation
Assimilation (linguistics)
Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

 of both consonants and vowels even in very formal standard language. A rare feature is the presence of a prosodic feature called stød
Stød
Stød is a suprasegmental unit of Danish phonology, which in its most common form is a kind of creaky voice , but may also be realized as a glottal stop, above all in emphatic pronunciation...

in Danish (lit. "push; thrust"). This is a form of laryngealization or creaky voice
Creaky voice
In linguistics, creaky voice , is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact...

, only occasionally realized as a full glottal stop
Glottal stop
The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

 (especially in emphatic pronunciation). It can be the only distinguishing feature between certain words, thus creating minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

s (for example, bønder "peasants" with stød versus bønner "beans" or "prayers" without). The distribution of stød in the lexicon is clearly related to the distribution of the common Scandinavian tonal
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

 word accents found in most dialects of Norwegian and Swedish, including the national standard language
Standard language
A standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Alternatively, varieties become standard by undergoing a process of standardization, during which it is organized for description in grammars and dictionaries and encoded in such reference works...

s. Most linguists today believe that stød is a development of the word accents, rather than the other way round. Some have theorized it emerged from the overwhelming influence of Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 in medieval times, having flattened the originally Nordic melodic accent, but stød is absent in most southern Danish dialects where Low German impact would have been the greatest. Stød generally occurs in words that have "accent 1" in Swedish and Norwegian and that were monosyllabic in Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

, while no-stød occurs in words that have "accent 2" in Swedish and Norwegian and that were polysyllabic in Old Norse.

Unlike the neighboring Continental Scandinavian languages, the prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

 of Danish does not have phonemic pitch. Stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

 is phonemic and distinguishes words
such as billigst ['bilist] "cheapest" and bilist [bi'list] "car driver".

Vowels

In most modern variants of Danish it's possible to distinguish at least 17 different vowel qualities in distinct pronunciation. The table below shows the approximate distribution of the vowels as pronounced in Modern Standard Danish, and the symbol used in IPA for Danish.
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

unrounded rounded unrounded unrounded rounded
Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...


(high)
i y u
Close-Close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

e ø
Close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

ɛ œ o
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

ə ɔ
Open-mid
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

æ
Open-mid-Open
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

a ɶ ɐ ʌ
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...


(low)
ɑ ɒ

All but four of these vowels may be either long and short, with the exceptions being [a], [ʌ], [ə] and [ɐ] that are short only. [ə] and [ɐ] occurs only in unstressed syllables.

The many different vowels can be analyzed to represent 10 distinctive vowel phonemes
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

: /i e ɛ a y ø œ u o ɔ/, and /ə/ that only occurs in unstressed syllables. These phonemes often have different allophones depending on length, and in conjunction with /r/. For example, /ø/ is lowered when it occurs either before or after /r/, and /a/ is pronounced [æ] when it is long.

Consonants

In distinct pronunciation it's possible to distinguish at least 21 consonants in most variants of Danish (see IPA for Danish):
Labial
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

(Alveolo
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

)-
Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Uvular
Uvular consonant
Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be plosives, fricatives, nasal stops, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and...

/
Pharyngeal
Pharyngeal consonant
A pharyngeal consonant is a type of consonant which is articulated with the root of the tongue against the pharynx.-Pharyngeal consonants in the IPA:Pharyngeal consonants in the International Phonetic Alphabet :...

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f s ɕ h
Approximant
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

ʋ j ʁ
Vocoid ʊ̯ ð ɪ̯ ɐ̯
Lateral
Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

l


These consonants can be analyzed to represent 15 phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s: /m n p t k b d g f s h v j r l/. Many of these phonemes have quite different allophone
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

s in onset and coda. /p t k/ are aspirated in onset, not in coda. /d g v j r/ are contoid in onset and vocoid in coda.

[ʋ, ð] often have slight frication, but are usually pronounced as approximants.

The combination of /sj/ is realized as an alveolo-palatal fricative, [ɕ], making it unnecessary to postulate a /ɕ/-phoneme in Danish.

In onset /r/ is realized as a uvular fricative, [ʁ], but in coda it is either realized as a non-syllabic low central vowel, [ɐ̯] (which is almost identical to how /r/ is often pronounced in syllable-final position in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

) or simply coalesces with the preceding vowel. The phenomenon is also comparable to non-rhotic pronunciations of English. The Danish pronunciation of /r/ distinguishes the language from Norwegian and Swedish, which use trilled /r/, and makes it sound to speakers of those languages as if Danes speak with a German accent.

Grammar

The infinitive forms of Danish verbs end in a vowel, which in almost all cases is a schwa, represented in writing by the letter e. Verbs are conjugated according to tense
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

, but otherwise do not vary according to person
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

 or number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

. For example the present tense form of the Danish infinitive verb spise ("to eat") is spiser; this form is the same regardless of whether the subject is in the first, second, or third person, or whether it is singular or plural. This extreme ease of conjugating verbs is compensated by the large number of irregular verb
Irregular verb
In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. The idea of an irregular verb is important in second language acquisition, where the verb paradigms of a foreign language are learned...

s in the language.

Standard Danish nouns fall into only two grammatical genders: common and neuter, while some dialects still often have masculine, feminine and neuter. While the majority of Danish nouns (ca. 75%) have the common gender, and neuter is often used for inanimate objects, the genders of nouns are not generally predictable and must in most cases be memorized. A distinctive feature of the Scandinavian languages, including Danish, is an enclitic definite article.
To demonstrate: The common gender word "a man" (indefinite) is en mand but "the man" (definite) is manden. The neuter equivalent would be "a house" (indefinite) et hus, "the house" (definite) huset. Even though the definite and indefinite articles have separate origins, they have become homographs in Danish. In the plural, the definite article is -(e)ne, as the plural endings are - / -e / -er. The enclitic article is not used when an adjective is added to the noun; here the demonstrative pronoun is used instead: den store mand "the big man", "the big house", det store hus.

Like most Germanic languages, Danish joins compound nouns. The example kvindehåndboldlandsholdet, "the female handball national team", illustrates that it does so to a significantly higher degree than English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. In some cases, nouns are joined with an extra s, like landsmand (from land, "country", and mand, "man", meaning "compatriot"), but landmand (from same roots, meaning "farmer"). Some words are joined with an extra e, like gæstebog (from gæst and bog, meaning "guest book").

Vocabulary

Danish words are largely derived from the Old Norse language, with new words formed by compounding. A large percentage of Danish words, however, hail from Middle Low German
Middle Low German
Middle Low German is a language that is the descendant of Old Saxon and is the ancestor of modern Low German. It served as the international lingua franca of the Hanseatic League...

 (explaining the relative similarity of its vocabulary with modern Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

), for example, betale (to pay). Later on, standard German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and now English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 have superseded Low German influence — although many old Nordic words remain, they fall out of favor when the new come in, such as can be seen with æde (to eat) which became less common when the Low German spise came into fashion. Because English and Danish are related languages which share a common root in Old Norse, many common words are very similar in the two languages. For example, Danish words for commonly used nouns and prepositions are easily recognizable in their written form to English speakers, such as have, over, under, for, give, flag, salt, and kat. When pronounced, these words sound quite different from their English equivalents, due to the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language that took place in England between 1350 and 1500.The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jespersen , a Danish linguist and Anglicist, who coined the term....

 of English. Similarly, some other words are almost identical to their Scottish
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 equivalents, e.g., kirk and barn. In addition, the word by, meaning "village" or "town", occurs in many English place-names, such as Whitby and Selby, as remnants of the Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 occupation.

Numerals

In Danish numerals, the tens and units digits of numbers above 20 are reversed when spoken or written, such that 21 is rendered enogtyve, meaning "one and twenty". Similar constructions are found in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, Afrikaans, certain varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

 of Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, Slovene and Arabic as well as in archaic and dialect English (compare the line "Four-and-twenty blackbirds"
Sing a Song of Sixpence
Sing a Song of Sixpence is a well-known English nursery rhyme, perhaps originating in the 18th century. It is also listed in the Roud folk song index as number 13191.-Lyrics:...

 in the old nursery rhyme.)

The numeral halvanden means 1½ (literally "half second", implying "one plus half of the second one"). The numerals halvtredje (2½) and halvfjerde (3½) are now almost obsolete, but still implicitly used in the vigesimal
Vigesimal
The vigesimal or base 20 numeral system is based on twenty .- Places :...

 system described below. Similarly, the temporal designation
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 klokken halv tre, literally "half three o'clock", is half past two o'clock.

One peculiar feature of the Danish language is the fact that numerals from 40 through 90 are (somewhat like the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 numerals 80 and 90) based on a vigesimal
Vigesimal
The vigesimal or base 20 numeral system is based on twenty .- Places :...

 system, formerly also used in Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

. This means that the score
20 (number)
20 is the natural number following 19 and preceding 21. A group of twenty units may also be referred to as a score.-In mathematics:*20 is the basis for vigesimal number systems....

 is used as a base unit in counting: Tres (short for tre-sinds-tyve meaning "three times twenty") means sixty, while halvtreds (short for halvtredje-sinds-tyve meaning "half third times twenty", implying two score plus half of the third score) is fifty. The ending
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 sindstyve meaning "score" is no longer included in cardinal number
Cardinal number
In mathematics, cardinal numbers, or cardinals for short, are a generalization of the natural numbers used to measure the cardinality of sets. The cardinality of a finite set is a natural number – the number of elements in the set. The transfinite cardinal numbers describe the sizes of infinite...

s, but still used in ordinal number
Ordinal number
In set theory, an ordinal number, or just ordinal, is the order type of a well-ordered set. They are usually identified with hereditarily transitive sets. Ordinals are an extension of the natural numbers different from integers and from cardinals...

s. Thus, in modern Danish forty is called fyrre derived from the original fyrretyve (derived from the old Danish fyritiughu, which translates to '4 tens'.), which is now only used in extremely formal settings or for humorous effect. Fifty-two is usually rendered as tooghalvtreds from the now obsolete tooghalvtredsindstyve, whereas 52nd is tooghalvtredsindstyvende. An exception is in banking, where traditionally the ten-base without reversal is used in writing and speech for all amounts from 20 and over; thus, fir(e)ti is forty (4 times 10) and seksti-to is sixty-two (6 times 10 plus 2).
Cardinal numeral Danish Literal English Ordinal numeral Danish Literal English
1 én / ét one 1st første first
12 tolv twelve 12th tolvte twelfth
23 treogtyve three and twenty 23rd treogtyvende three and 20th
34 fireogtredive four and thirty 34th fireogtred(i)vte four and 30th
45 femogfyrre(tyve) five and four (tens) 45th femogfyrretyvende five and four tens'th
56 seksoghalvtreds(indstyve) six and [two score plus] half [of the] third (score) 56th seksoghalvtredsindstyvende six and [two score plus] half [of the] third score-eth
67 syvogtres(indstyve) seven and three (score) 67th syvogtresindstyvende seven and three score-eth
78 otteoghalvfjerds(indstyve) eight and [three score plus] half [of the] fourth (score) 78th otteoghalvfjerdsindstyvende eight and [three score plus] half [of the] fourth score-eth
89 niogfirs(indstyve) nine and four (score) 89th niogfirsindstyvende nine and four score-eth
90 halvfems(indstyve) [four score plus] half [of the] fifth (score) 90th halvfemsindstyvende [four score plus] half [of the] fifth score-eth


For large numbers (one billion or larger), Danish uses the long scale
Long and short scales
The long and short scales are two of several different large-number naming systems used throughout the world for integer powers of ten. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries use the short scale...

, so that for example, one U.S. billion (1,000,000,000) is called milliard, and one U.S. trillion (1,000,000,000,000) is billion.

Writing system

The oldest preserved examples of written Danish (from the Iron and Viking Ages) are in the Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. The introduction of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 also brought the Latin script to Denmark, and at the end of the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 the Runes had more or less been replaced by the Latin letters.

As in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Fraktur types were still commonly used in the late 19th century (until 1875, Danish children were taught to read Fraktur letters in school), and many books were printed with Fraktur typesetting even in the beginning of the 20th century, particularly by conservatives. However, the Latin script was used by modernists, for example, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters is a Danish non-governmental science Academy, founded 13 November 1742 by permission of the King Christian VI, as a historical Collegium Antiquitatum...

 changed style in 1799. Nouns were capitalized, as in German, until the 1948 spelling reform.
The modern Danish alphabet is similar to the English one, with three additional letters: æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

, ø
Ø
Ø — minuscule: "ø", is a vowel and a letter used in the Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Southern Sami languages.It's mostly used as a representation of mid front rounded vowels, such as ø œ, except for Southern Sami where it's used as an [oe] diphtong.The name of this letter is the same as the sound...

, and å
Å
Å represents various sounds in several languages. Å is part of the alphabets used for the Alemannic and the Bavarian-Austrian dialects of German...

, which come at the end of the alphabet, in that order. A spelling reform
Spelling reform
Many languages have undergone spelling reform, where a deliberate, often officially sanctioned or mandated, change to spelling takes place. Proposals for such reform are also common....

 in 1948 introduced the letter å, already in use in Norwegian and Swedish, into the Danish alphabet to replace the digraph
Digraph (orthography)
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used to write one phoneme or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined...

 aa; the old usage still occurs in some personal and geographical names (for example, the name of the city of Aalborg
Aalborg
-Transport:On the north side of the Limfjord is Nørresundby, which is connected to Aalborg by a road bridge Limfjordsbroen, an iron railway bridge Jernbanebroen over Limfjorden, as well as a motorway tunnel running under the Limfjord Limfjordstunnelen....

is spelled with Aa following a decision by the City Council in the 1970s). When representing the å sound, aa is treated just like å in alphabetical sorting, even though it looks like two letters. When the letters are not available due to technical limitations (e.g., in URLs), they are often replaced by ae (Æ, æ), oe or o (Ø, ø), and aa (Å, å), respectively.

The same spelling reform changed the spelling of a few common words, such as the past tense vilde (would), kunde (could) and skulde (should), to their current forms of ville, kunne and skulle (making them identical to the infinitives in writing, as they are in speech), and did away with the practice of capitalizing all nouns, which is still done in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

. Modern Danish and Norwegian use the same alphabet, though spelling differs somewhat.

See also

  • Differences between Norwegian Bokmål and Standard Danish
    Differences between Norwegian Bokmål and Standard Danish
    Danish and Norwegian Bokmål are very similar languages, but differences between them do exist...

  • Jutlandic
    Jutlandic
    Jutlandic or Jutish is a term for the western dialects of Danish, spoken on the peninsula of Jutland....

  • South Jutlandic

External links

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