The Danish language is famously daunting to pronounce, and also notorious because that the mismatch in between the way it’s written and spoken. Society Trip breaks down some of the an essential phrases you’ll need on a pilgrimage to Denmark.

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Although Danish belongs to the North germanic language family – which likewise includes Swedish, Norwegian, Faroese and also Icelandic, all of which sprout native Old vikings – the language spoken in Denmark is unique. Danish is talked by practically 6 million world in Denmark, as well as by the Danish minority in southerly Schleswig, in the Faroe Islands and also in Greenland – the latter two gift self-governing regions of the Kingdom that Denmark.

Danish has actually 27 various vowel sounds, and also is distinctive for the use of stød – a phonological phenomenon unique to Danish that describes a glottal consonant provided in the pronunciation. To further confuse anyone learning Danish, the written language has actually changed little since the 16th century, an interpretation there’s a huge difference in between the language the is commonly talked and the means in which that is written. Tourists to Denmark that attempt to acquire to grips v the neighborhood language will be greeted v kindness by the Danes, so don’t hesitate to ask for help with pronouncing the language’s many sounds.

Whether the Danish hej (pronounced ‘hey’) originates indigenous the swedish hej or the English ‘hi’ isn’t all that clear, yet this basic word is conveniently straightforward to say. The not blocked greeting is commonly used, especially amongst young world – no just amongst friends and also family, but additionally to to speak hello as soon as entering, for example, a restaurant or a shop. The much more formal variation of hello in Danish is goddag, which method ‘good day’. This much more official version is likewise widely used, and it’s not unlikely that a waiter, bus driver or bartender will certainly greet customers v goddag as one expression that politeness. But, when historically the usage of these two phrases depended on factors such together social status and age, castle are now used interchangeably. Most young people, though, just go with the not blocked hej.


If you want to say goodbye in Denmark in a much less formal way than the appropriate goodbye (which is farvel in Danish), just include another hej to hej. This, hej hej, is the not blocked Danish expression to use for speak goodbye.

Though the Danish expression that gratitude originates native the funny-looking Old Norse word þökk and the Old English þanc, tak (tag) is much more straightforward. Phonetically, the k is pronounced much more like a g, yet the short and sharp native is straightforward for non-Danish speaker to wrap your heads round.

While the Danish yes, ja (pronounced ‘yeh’), can be a close family member of the English yes, this small yet important word originates from the Old norse and also Old English gea. Be conscious that the Danish j sound is various to that offered in English or also German, and also sounds much more similar come the y in ‘Yamaha’.

Its opposite, nej (naj), is as with the word provided for ‘no’ in adjoining Sweden. However, it’s likewise speculated the Denmark’s nej derives indigenous the Old norseman néeigi, which literally way ‘not in anyone’s time’.

Literally, det var så lidt method ‘that to be so little’. Rather poetic in meaning, it can additionally be tricky for visitors to pronounce. The word det (the English ‘that’) has actually no t sound at all. Phonetically, the word is just pronounced ‘de’, as in ‘deliberate’.

The next challenge, then, would certainly be words var, which means ‘was’ or ‘were’. This deep sound, comparable to the German war (and v the very same meaning), is pronounce in the throat fairly than up in the mouth.

Then, yes the small funny-looking . Because that a vowel that is currently foreign come most, it doesn’t help that the phonetics space complicated, too. The Danish vowel å is pronounced differently relying on the context. In this example, it would certainly be ‘sa’.

The critical word, lidt (a little) derives native the enlarge Danish adjectives liden and also lidet, which are no much longer in usage today. Nothing let the dt sound confuse you – if girlfriend aim because that the English word ‘lid’, you space well on your way.

Vi ses literally means ‘we will check out one another’. And though the expression looks an easy enough to read from the point of watch of one English speaker, it’s no straightforward. The i in vi is nothing like the English i. Rather, the pronounced much more like the English ee sound. However, don’t linger top top the last vowel – this is a snappy little word that comes to a quick halt.

The second fifty percent of the phrase, ses, which comes from the Danish se, definition ‘to see’, is a bit much easier to pronounce. That originates indigenous the Old vikings sjá and the Gothic saihwan, which combined to take the an interpretation of the word Danes now recognize as ‘noticing’ and also ‘seeing’.


The Danish native skål literally converts as ‘bowl’ and originates indigenous a time when Danes would raise the key from which they drank as a way to salute one another. Words itself originates indigenous the Old norse skál and the German Schale. It’s pronounced come rhyme through ‘hole’. Provided the exceptional drinking actions of Danes, girlfriend will quickly familiarise yourself through this word as soon as visiting Denmark.

Jeg (pronounced v a y sound, to rhyme v ‘pie’) originates indigenous the Old norseman ek and the Old English ic v the Latin affect of ego, every one of which add to its definition of ‘I’ in Danish. These roots an unified to develop the old Danish develops of ‘I’, iak and also æk, and also the modern version, jeg, derives from the former.

The Danish hedder (pronounced favor a soft ‘heather’) is the tantamount of the transitive English verb of being referred to as or named. The dual d in hedder – like all other double d sounds in Danish – sounds nearly like the English th – the is, soft and gentle.

This is a an especially useful phrase for visitors to Denmark, who are likely to need to ask “Where is the museum/the station/the restaurant?” Danish has actually a whole plethora of words starting with hv, yet in all such formations, the h is fully silent.

Many Danish words starting with hv space interrogative words, provided to ask questions, and thus quite central to the language. Other essential hv words to understand are hvem (who), hvad (what) and also hvornår (when).

It’s the unpreventable question when travelling. Girlfriend strike up a conversation through someone, and if you don’t ask first, the other person will: “Where are you from?” This is Hvor er du fra? in Danish. The correct answer come that question would it is in Jeg er fra… (I am from…). Jeg is pronounced together in the phrase Jeg hedder, and er together it looks. Fra is a spoken from the throat rather than whirled turn off the tongue together in the English from, and also is the Old Norse and also Gothic origin.

Fedt usually method ‘fat’ in Danish, but det er fedt or just fedt is a slang phrase supplied quite frequently by Danes when they desire to allude out the something is cool or great.

For those who’ve never heard that the Danish term hygge, this expression is used by danes in bespeak to explain a cosy evening, frequently spent v friends.


Må jeg bede om en øl?/Jeg vil gerne bede om en øl (Could I have a beer?/I would prefer to have actually a beer)

Må jeg bede om en øl? and the more polite variation of the very same phrase, Jeg vil gerne bede om en øl, room the many commons expressions used in Danish come order a beer. In fact, simply saying en øl is also fine, specifically in the late hrs when not even Danes bother making use of formalities.

Don’t worry around verbs changing according come person and also number together they do in so many languages, consisting of Spanish and also English. In Danish, whoever eats or walks or city hall – i or you or she or we – the verb remains the same. For example, jeg hedder (my surname is), hun hedder (her name is) or vi hedder (our name are).

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This write-up is one updated variation of a story originally created by Aliki Seferou.

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