Facts About the Danish Language
Danish belongs to the North Germanic languages of the Indo-European language family. It is the official language of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, the European Union, and the Nordic Council. Until 2009, it was also the official language in Greenland. Danish is also spoken in the Schleswig-Holstein state of Germany, where it enjoys the status of a minority language. This language is also used by communities in the USA, Argentina, and Canada.
It is related to Swedish and Norwegian. The biggest differences lie in pronunciation; for instance, Danish tends to omit many consonants. Just like with other Scandinavian languages, it displays heavy Low German influences – about a third of Danish words are loans from the Low German language.
The estimated number of Danish speakers is about 5.6 million. As a mandatory subject, Danish is taught at schools in the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. About 15–20% of Greenland’s population speaks Danish.
Danish arose from the Old East Norse dialect, which means that Danes shared a language with Norwegians up until the 12th century. Until 1814, Danish was the official language in Norway too.
The earliest written monuments in the form of runestones date back to around 250. The oldest manuscripts have survived from the 13th century, such as Gesta Danorum, which tells of the first Danish monarchs. The first book was printed in 1495, while the Bible was published in 1550.
The Danish alphabet consists of 28 letters. In addition to the letters of the Latin alphabet, it also includes Æ, Ø, and Å.
The roughly 30 dialects are divided into three main groups: the Insular Danish (ømål), the Bornholmian (bornholmsk), and the Jutlandic (jysk).
Danish distinguishes between the falling, drawn and rising intonation. Their usage depends on the dialect or the speaker’s subjective preferences. Unlike in Latvian, where rising intonation indicates a question, the Danes use it to express indignation.
Danish nouns have two genders: common and neuter. Most nouns are of common gender. The common gender arose as the historical feminine and masculine genders merged into one.
The Danish language uses definite and indefinite articles, but no articles are used with nouns referring to professions or nationalities.
Nouns are only declined to form the genitive, while the other cases are made using constructions with prepositions.
Danish adjectives are not inflected. Instead of person and number, verbs have three main forms: infinitive, simple past, and past participle. These forms are used to make all the other verb forms by adding endings and auxiliary words.
It is interesting that when saying numbers, Danes always start with ones instead of tens.
Danish syntax dictates that a sentence always has to have a subject and a predicate; the only exceptions are cases when the verb is used in the imperative.
Word order in sentences is strictly fixed. No more than one negative can be used in one sentence.
Language code: ISO 639-1: da