There are approximately 5.5 million Danish speakers in the world. While Danish is often associated with Denmark, the language is also spoken in Greenland, Norway and Germany. This North Germanic language was the official language in Norway until 1830 and in Iceland until 1994. Today, the first foreign language that most Icelandic students learn is Danish.
Danish was influenced a lot during the Middle Ages by a few German dialects and the language absorbed certain French and English words in the 17th and 19th centuries respectively. Today, the language has three distinct dialects, which are again divided into 30 different sub-dialects. The three Danish dialects are:
- Insular Danish spoken in Funen, Moen, Falster, Lolland and the Danish Islands of Zealand
- Jutlandic Danish spoken in South, North, East and West Jutland, with each region having its own dialect
- Bornholmsk Danish refers to the dialect spoken on Bornholm, an island
Danish Pronunciation and Grammar
While English does indeed have vowels and consonants that are reduced and assimilated while speaking, there are not many. When you learn the Danish language on the other hand, you will realise that, compared to the written form, the spoken form is very different and unique due to heavy assimilation and reduction of vowels and consonants. While speaking Danish, there has to be a prosodic feature known as thrust. This is nothing but the laryngealization of the word. This thrust can make a big difference when speaking, as there are some words that sound similar in Danish. Many languages experts believe that this thrust is actually a word accent.
There are 17 different vowel pronunciations in Danish and infinitive forms of verbs are formed by adding a schwa at the end of the verb. Conjugation of verbs depends on the tense used and is not based on the number or the person. It is also interesting to note that, in Danish, there are just two grammatical genders – neutral and common. However, in certain Danish dialects, there could be masculine, feminine and neuter.
How to Learn Danish
If you are interested in learning Danish, there are many ways to do it. You can opt for online courses to help you begin the journey. Alternatively, you can enroll in a Danish language course. Some people also go on trips to Denmark to learn the language, just like some non-native speakers of English come to the UK to learn English.
If you want to learn Danish at your own pace without feeling pressured, Babbel.com is one of the best sources. Babbel makes it fun and easy to learn Danish. There are interesting multimedia grammar exercises that help you immensely as well as an emphasis on voice recognition to learn the right Danish pronunciation. Babbel has courses that are designed for beginners and this makes learning easy for people who have no knowledge or clue about the language. In addition, there is a library of words and sentences that you can learn for everyday use. With Babbel, it is possible to learn Danish at your own pace and also enjoy the learning process.