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Danish (dansk)

Danish is a North Germanic language with around 5.5 million speakers mainly in Denmark, but also in Greenland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, 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 learnt in Iceland.

During the Middle Ages Danish was heavily influenced by Low German dialects. In the 17th century Danish absorbed many French loanwords, and from the 19th century onwards, many English words have been taken into Danish.

The first written work of Danish literature was Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes) written in Latin in about 1200 by Saxo Grammaticus. This recounts the history of Denmark up to 1186 and includes Danish versions (in a somewhat Christianized form) of Scandinavian myths and sagas, including the earliest version of the Hamlet story.

You can see an online version of Gesta Danorum in the original Latin at:

Danish began to be used a literary languge during the 16th century. In 1514 Christian Pedersen published a Danish version of Gesta Danorum, which was highly influential on subsequent Danish literature. Pedersen also published the first Danish translation of the New Testament in 1531.

Danish alphabet (dansk alfabet)

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h I i J j
a be se de e æf ge i jåd
K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r S s T t
æl æm æn o pe ku ær æs te
U u V v W w X x Y y Z z Æ æ Ø ø Å å  
u ve dobbelt-
æks y sæt æ ø å  

The letters C, Q, W, X and Z are only used in foreign loanwords. Before 1948, the sound written å was written aa, which can still be seen in some place names, such as Aalborg and Aabenraa.

A recording of the Danish alphabet by Marc D. S. Volhardt


Danish pronunciation


Details of Danish pronunciation provided by Marc Volhardt

A good guide to Danish pronunciation, with sounds files, can be found at:

Download an alphabet chart for Danish (Excel)

Sample text

Alle mennesker er født frie og lige i værdighed og rettigheder. De er udstyret med fornuft og samvittighed, og de bør handle mod hverandre i en broderskabets ånd.

A recording of this text


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Danish

Information about Danish | Phrases | Family words | Tongue twisters | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about the Danish language

Online Danish lessons

Learn Danish online with DanishClass101

Learn a Language - Easy, Fast & Fun. As Seen on TV!

Danish Grammar

Danish phrases

Online Danish dictionaries

Dansk for Alle - information about the Danish language and culture (in Danish)

Online Danish radio

Online Danish news

Project Runeberg - a volunteer effort to create free electronic editions of classic Nordic (Scandinavian) literature:

Germanic languages

Afrikaans, Alsatian, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Danish, Dutch, Elfdalian, English, Faroese, Flemish, German, Gothic, Gottscheerish, Hunsrik, Icelandic, Limburgish, Low German, Luxembourgish, Mòcheno, Norn, North Frisian, Norwegian, Old English, Old Norse, Pennsylvania German, Ripuarian, Saterland Frisian, Scots, Shetland(ic), Stellingwarfs, Swedish, Swiss German, West Frisian, Wymysorys, Yiddish

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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