The funniest facts about the Danish language

The funniest facts about the Danish language


Legoland, Tivoli and, of course, the Little Mermaid are. They are the tourist attractions of Denmark. If you've been to this green and friendly country before, you may have ventured into some words of Danish, such as hej (hello), tak (thanks) or farvel (goodbye). In this blog you can read more about the Danish language.

In the word farvel you probably recognize the Dutch word for farewell: vaarwel. Danish is therefore related to Dutch. They are both Germanic languages: Dutch a West Germanic language, Danish a North Germanic. With 5.5 million speakers (compare that with the figures in the blog article What is most spoken? World Languages Top 10, Danish is a modest language. Yet there is plenty to tell about it. We will list 5 facts about the Danish language for you.

Can't get past "hej" in Danish?

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1. The Danish language is not only spoken in Denmark

Danish is the only official language of Denmark. However, it is also spoken in the Faroe Islands and Greenland, usually as a second language. Moreover, in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, which neighbors Denmark and is home to many ethnic Danes, Danish is a recognized minority language.

2. The Danish alphabet has 3 additional letters

The Danish alphabet does not have 26, but 29 letters. The z is followed by æ, ø and å (as capital letters Æ, Ø and Å). By the way, the letters c, q, w, x and z are hardly ever used in the Danish language. You only encounter them in loanwords, such as cigarette, queer, sex and weekend. This is also the official alphabet in Norway.

3. Danes, Swedes and Norwegians can understand each other reasonably well

The mutual differences between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are much smaller than those between, for example, Dutch and German (also closely related languages). This has the pleasant advantage that Danes, Norwegians and Swedes can read each other's language reasonably well as well as communicate orally. However, Norwegians and Swedes find Danish relatively more difficult to understand.

4. Cosiness the Danish way: is called hygge

You often hear that the Dutch term "gezelligheid" (cosiness) is very difficult to translate. Yet the Danes have a word that comes pretty close: hygge. Hygge describes a good atmosphere in a group, the enjoyment of good food with friends, a cozy interior or pleasant surroundings. If a Dane finds something hyggelig, it's all right.

5. The Danish language has a few special counting words

Maybe you know the French word for 80: quatre-vingts. A strange word actually, because it means 4 x 20. It is a remnant of an old counting system in which not 10, but 20 is the base number. Remnants of this system can also be found in Danish. For example, halvtredsindstyve (or simply halvtreds), the word for 50, literally means 2½ x 20. And 90 is halvfemsindstyve (or halvfems): 4½ x 20.

Translate your texts into Danish?

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