5 interesting facts about Danish

Are you interested in learning how to speak the language of the Danes? Danish is a popular language in Europe, with some connections to German, Dutch, and Norwegian. Here’s a look at five facts about the Danish language.

How Many People Speak Danish?

About six million people speak Danish, with most of them living in Denmark or in the Northern parts of Germany. There are some Danish communities within Norway and Sweden, along with other parts of the world. About 15-20% of people in Greenland also speak the language natively.

Where Is Danish an Official Language?

The main country where Danish is an official language is Denmark. Furthermore, it is also an official language in the Faroe Islands, Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) and in the Nordic Council.

Danish is a recognized minority language in Greenland and Germany. Moreover, there are some communities around the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada where Danish is an often used but not official language.

What Language Family Does Danish Belong To?

Danish is a North Germanic language, part of the Indo-European language family. When broken down it is part of the Continental Scandinavian family of languages.

It is a descendant of the Old Norse language, which was common throughout the Viking Era in Scandinavia. It is derived from the East Norse language, along with Swedish. The language is also commonly referred to as a Mainland Scandinavian language.

Insular Scandinavian is one of the most common variants spoken outside of Denmark. It is popular in Greenland and Iceland.

What Danish Dialects Are Most Common?

There used to be a large range of dialects, with a variety of spellings and conversions. This was until the creation of the printing press and the spread of Protestantism. This helped to develop the most common dialect, the Copenhagen dialect. Many of the traditional dialects have now disappeared.

Most of the differences in the dialects are due to creative use of wording by the younger generations. There are a few regional variants, but nothing major compared to many other European languages. This does make it easier to learn the language and travel the country.

Having said that, there are still some dialects heard in particular parts of Denmark. Insular Danish is spoken on most of the islands, while Jutlandic is a dialect in the North, East, and West. South Jurlandic is a dialect in the South, while Bornholmian is a dialect on Bornholm Island.

How Difficult Is It to Learn Danish?

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) classes Danish as a Category I language. This is the lowest category and means that it is fairly similar to English. It is one of 12 languages in this category. Category I languages take about 575 to 600 class hours to learn which translates into around 23-24 weeks of full-time study.