Thursday, August 11, 2022

Language & Phrasebook in Denmark

EuropeDenmarkLanguage & Phrasebook in Denmark

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Danish (Dansk) is the national language of Denmark. It is a member of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, and within that family, it is part of the North Germanic, East Norse group. It is, in principle, extremely close to Norwegian Bokml and Swedish, and is understandable to speakers of those languages, particularly in written form. However, its sound is more affected by the guttural German language than by the lilting languages of the north, and comprehending spoken Danish may be more challenging for people who only know Swedish or Norwegian. It is also more distantly related to Icelandic and Faroese, but spoken Danish and these languages are not mutually intelligible.

English is widely spoken in Denmark (almost 90% of the population speaks it, making Denmark one of the most English-proficient nations on the globe where English is not an official language), and many Danes speak it well. Danish schoolchildren begin learning English in third grade, and regular English classes continue until pupils graduate from high school, with many Danish university courses offered entirely or partly in English. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that Denmark is likely one of the only nations in the world where attempting to speak the local language earns you no additional points, and Danes in general have little tolerance with non-fluent speakers. So, with the exception of a few phrases like Tak (thank you) and Undskyld (excuse me), English-speakers are much better off simply speaking English than struggling through a phrasebook. If you try and the person you’re speaking with immediately switches to English, don’t be offended; it’s not meant to condescend or belittle you, but rather to demonstrate an understanding of your situation and to demonstrate that it’s perfectly fine to have a conversation in English rather than the notoriously difficult Danish language. Also, since the Danish language lacks an equivalent to the English phrase “please,” it may seem that Danes are impolite while speaking English.

Many Danes are also fluent in German. Denmark is one of the top nations in non-German-speaking Europe in terms of German language competence, with more than 58 percent of the population fluent in the language. It is commonly spoken in regions that attract many German visitors, namely the Jutland West Coast, the southern portion of Funen, and neighboring islands (e.g. Langeland and r), but particularly in Southern Jutland (Snderjylland / Northern Schleswig), where it has minority language status. Elsewhere in the country, many people prefer to avoid speaking it, even if they have some command of it, and you will have a difficult time convincing anyone (outside the tourist industry) otherwise: this has nothing to do with history, but is simply a result of the high fluency in English, which makes the locals less inclined to struggle through a language they are not entirely comfortable with. In a crisis or emergency, though, individuals will most likely step up and do their best to assist. Along the southern border with Germany (Snderjylland / Northern Schleswig), there is a native or indigenous German speaking minority. Across the border, there is a tiny population of Danish speakers in Germany.

French is also spoken to some extent, since all Danish students have had at least three years of instruction in either German or French, although fluency tends to lag due to the Danes’ limited interaction with the French language.

Foreign television shows and films are nearly usually broadcast with subtitles in their native language, which contributes to the Danes’ outstanding English abilities. Only children’s shows are subtitled in Danish.

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