Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it holds minority language status. Danish is also spoken in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Argentina, the UAE and the USA. Danish was the official language of Norway until about 1830 and of Iceland until 1944. Danish is now the first foreign language learned in Iceland and due to immigration into urban areas, around 15-20% of the population of Greenland speaks Danish as their home language.
Danish is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Swedish. Proficient speakers of any of the three languages can understand the others, though studies have shown that speakers of Norwegian generally understand both Danish and Swedish far better than Swedes or Danes understand each other. Both Swedes and Danes also understand Norwegian better than they understand each other’s languages.
Interesting Facts About Denmark and the Danish Language
- The Danish language is a northern Germanic language.
- The Danish alphabet has 29 letters and uses the basic 26-letter Latin alphabet plus the three additional letters Æ, Ø, Å. Danish (Dansk) is one of the North Germanic languages (also called Scandinavian languages).
- Did you know that Denmark has 406 islands and 7314 km of coastline
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Origins of Danish (Dansk)
During the Middle Ages, Danish was heavily influenced by Low German dialects, while during the 17th century Danish absorbed many French loanwords and from the 19th century onwards, many English words have been taken into Danish.
Along with the other North Germanic languages, Danish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era.