Danish is not a very easy language. It just isn’t. That said, can you learn it? Well, the Danes did! And many others too. Jokes aside, the challenge with learning Danish is mainly about the pronunciation. On paper it is very understandable, especially for the other Scandinavian speakers – Swedes, Norwegians and even the Icelandic people – and naturally everybody else as well if they put their mind to it. But when it comes to listening to it, speaking it; that’s were the trouble starts.
As our Danish professor at Helsinki University told us (read about it here), you mustn’t approach the Danish language from the other Scandinavian languages, but treat is as the unique spoken language it is. If you want to learn to speak Danish, you have to forget about all other languages, you even have to forget about yourself! You need to listen, digest what you hear like you were a toddler, and then produce something akin to that with a feeling, almost passion! In that respect it almost resembles French actually. And on one level again it resembles German. All in all, pronounce-wise, it is further from the other Scandinavian languages than it is from German – at least to my ear, and I have studied them all.
So listen to this 3 minute video with Louise at DanishClass101.com (you can join the site with free lifetime account) and get started with your Danish – if you haven’t already!
My mother was a war refugee – a war child or sotalapsi as we call them here in Finland – during the Second World War. She spent part of her childhood in Denmark, and learned to speak the language fluently. Coming back to Helsinki, she had forgotten a lot of her Finnish, and was teased about in school – but that’s another story. Anyway, the Danish language stuck with her throughout the years, so I’ve been privy to hearing Danish words and sentences on and off for years.
Here is funny video of Americans trying to pronounce Danish words which they most probably hear for the first time. One of those words – rødgrød med fløde – is the one my mother always used to tease with the rest of the family. Rødgrød med fløde means literally red groat porridge with creme – it’s a kind of sweet fruit dish… On that note, have fun!