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  • Belongs to the East Scandinavian branch of North Germanic languages.

  • Most Danish words are derived from the Old Norse with new words formed by compounding. A large percentage of Danish words, however, hails from Low German (e.g., betale = to pay, måske = maybe). Eventually, High German and French and, more recently, English have superseded Low German influences. As English and Danish are related languages, many words can be found in both languages . For example: have, over, under, for, kat. When pronounced, however, these words sound quite different from their English equivalents. Besides, the suffix by, meaning "town", occurs in several English placenames, such as Whitby and Selby, as a remnant of the Viking legacy. Danish pronunciation rules are challenging for English speakers; written forms sometimes do not correspond to modern pronunciation.

  • In the Middle Ages Danish lost the old case system, merged the masculine and feminine genders into one common gender.

  • Modern Danish has only two cases (nominative and genitive).

  • Danish is spoken by more than 5 million people.

  • Some famous authors include existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, prolific fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen, and playwright Ludvig Holberg. Three 20th-century Danish authors have been awarded Nobel Prize in Literature: Karl Adolph Gjellerup and Henrik Pontoppidan (joint recipients in 1917) and Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (awarded 1944).

  • The first translation of the Bible in Danish was published in 1550.

  • The closest relatives of Danish are the North Germanic languages of Scandinavia: Norwegian and Swedish. Written Danish and Norwegian are particularly close, though the pronunciation of all three languages differs to some extent. Still, proficient speakers of any of the three languages can understand the others. In fact, similarities between the three languages are so large that international linguists classify them as a single language.

  • Danish is the official language of Denmark, one of two official languages of Greenland (the other is Greenlandic), and one of two official languages of the Faeroes (the other is Faeroese). In addition, there is a small community of Danish speakers in the portion of Germany bordering Denmark.


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