Danish language first impressions

Danish language first impressions

What language is Danish? 

Denmark is a country with a strong welfare state. It combines a high living standard with a strong social security net, as well as the best working opportunities. So, if you consider moving to another country, Denmark seems really tempting. Before making a final decision, we invite you to discover the mysteries of Danish language and set off on a journey to understanding modern Scandinavian culture. Maybe you will learn, why the Danes often are at the top of the happiest people rankings. 

Let’s start with some basic Danish language facts. It belongs to the East Scandinavian branch of North Germanic languages family. Where is Danish language spoken? It is used by about six million people, mainly in DenmarkGreenlandthe Faroe Islands, Canada, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and in the in northern GermanyDanish language has a number of regional and local dialect varieties, which are usually divided into two major groups. Standard Danish is based on Eastern Danish (Bornholmsk) spoken in the surroundings of the capital of Copenhagen and in big cities. It is taught in schools and used in the media.  

Sønderjysk (Southern Jutlandic) is the western variety, spoken on the peninsula of Jutland. Danish grammar is relatively easy, so why Danish language is so hard to grasp? First, a high number of vowels makes it challenging to pronounce. Secondly, it is a fast-spoken, soft and monotonous language, which makes it difficult to understand. There is though good news that about 86 percent of Denmark’s population speaks English. So you can freely enjoy your stay without diving into mysterious depths of Danish language

Danish language alphabet 

Learning the Danish alphabet is very important, because it shows how to speak Danish language properly. The modern Danish language alphabet has 29 letters. It is using the standard English alphabet plus 3 extra vowels at the end of the alphabet not found in the English language. The three extra letters are æ, ø and å, so the Danish alphabet is as follows: 

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z æ ø å 

  • æ is a combination of ‘a’ and ‘e’, sounds like a shortened version of the ‘a’ sound in the word “ate”.  
  • the letter ‘ø’ is even more difficult to replicate in the English language. It sounds like the “u” in “burn” or “i” in the “bird”. 
  • As umlaut vowels, Æ and ø are corresponding to ä and ö in German.  
  • Å was introduced as substitution of the ’’aa”. It sounds like a very shortened version of the ‘o’ sound in the word “go”.  

One of the tricks encountered by English speakers is the “silent” d. The letter ‘y’ corresponds with umlaut ü, and q, w, x are only used in foreign words. Above all, there is a stød, pronounced by thrusting the air rapidly through your throat, then cutting it short. It’s often characterized as a “glottal stop” in linguistics. Even if this only sounds difficult, we highly recommend Danish language course for international students, because it takes some time and practice to shift from English to Danish language

How to learn Danish language fast? 

Starting to learn a foreign language from scratch is never a simple task. There are fortunately many ways to do it. Here are some useful tips.  

Firstly, start to live in Denmark. Being forced to speak is sometimes the best way to advance. Choosing to stay in luxurious rooms of Basecamp in Copenhagen (2 dormitories: in city center or close to South Campus) or Lyngby you will sink into the environment, where you will hear the Danish language spoken all day round. Among peers at different Danish language levels, you will pick up colloquial or slang words and phrases much easier. The great way to get you into the routine of learning and meet new foreigners in the city is a Danish language course at a private school or at the university. At home, you can additionally listen to podcasts, download language learning app like Duolingo, read the news, books for children or watch Danish language movies or start a free online Danish language course. Live chats and online conversations with natives are also efficient and entertaining at the same time. Maybe you will find a private Danish language tutor? Remember one rule. Nothing will speed up your progress more than speaking. 

Basic Danish words for good start 

There are some Danish language phrases you may find useful in everyday life, for example how to say hello in Danish language or thank you. They might come in handy at any time, so try to learn them.  

English Danish 
Hi! Hej! 
Yes Ja 
No Nej 
Please Være venlig 
Good morning! God morgen! 
Good evening! God aften! 
Welcome!  Velkommen! 
How are you? Hvordan har du/ de det? 
I’m fine, thanks! Jeg har det fint, tak! 
And you? Og dig/ dem? 
Good/ So-So. Godt/ Sådan nogenlunde. 
Thank you (very much)! Tak! (Mange tak!) 
Good night! God nat! 
See you later! På gensyn! 
Good bye! Farvel! 
I’m lost Jeg er faret vild. 
Can you help me? Kan du/ de hjælpe mig? 
Where is the bathroom? Hvor er toilettet? 
Go straight, then turn left/ right! Gå lige ud. Drej derefter til venstre/ højre! 
How much is this? Hvor meget ko 
Excuse me ..! (to ask for something) Undskyld mig… 
Excuse me! (to pass by) Undskyld! 
Do you speak English? Taler du engelsk? 

In case you need to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Danish language it would sound like “Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår”. You can often encounter the phrase “godaften” it means good evening in Danish language. Spare 5 to 10 minutes a day and your improvement will take place in a blink of an eye. 

Career in Denmark 

Denmark offers the best work-life balance, an excellent business climate, and endless work and development opportunities. If your native language is English, you can rest easy. English is commonly spoken in business, because world-famous brands such as KPMG, IBM, Carlsberg, Zara, Deloitte and Lego have their offices in Denmark. However, if you want to experience ‘hygge’, the unique Danish concept of comfort and closeness, it is better to socialize. Danish language courses can largely help you make friends and settle in. The Danish labour market is dominated by the services sector and industry. The Danish is currently facing skills shortages in education, engineering, IT, medicine and healthcare. If you are a skilled engineer, medical consultant, hospital doctor, dentist and pharmacist, you won’t have difficulties in finding a well-paid job.  

Yet, it is worth mentioning, that knowledge of Danish is preferable at high-level positions, so before applying, enroll in a Danish language school. Danish is considered one of the easiest languages for a native English speaker to understand, and additionally it will give you a huge step towards mastering other Germanic languages (Norwegian, Swedish, German). Having knowledge of Danish language will open up the world to you for business, travelling, living abroad and new acquaintances.  

Ready for a Danish challenge? Vi ses snart. (See you soon.)