Danish so-called “pronunciation”


Of course my real goal in studying German and Swedish is eventually to have all of Denmark surrounded. (After Swedish, the next most likely nearby targets are Norwegian and Dutch.)

All I know about Denmark I learned from Swedes. Well, if you don’t count one Danish co-worker, who moved back to Denmark several years ago. The Swedes tell me, “The Danes would be so much easier to understand if they would only take the hot potato out of their mouth before they started talking.” (Two Swedes have told me that Danish sounds “drunk”.)

I thought this was just friendly Scandinavian pick-on-your-neighbor-ism until I actually listened to some Danish closely.

Believe it or not, the odd collection of sounds that comes out of their mouths (1) counts as a language, and (2) is comprehensible to other Danes. Listen for yourself: Rødgrød med fløde. That “soft d” I will never, ever learn to pronounce properly. It appears to requires the use of throat muscles that most people are content to use only for swallowing.

This site has a longer sample of Danish speech. You thought swallowing a word was just a figure of speech? Check out the pronunciation of Sverigesfærgen which sounds to me something like “Svesfæn”.

Okay, now that I’ve publically made fun of Danish, my punishment will probably be that I will be called upon to study it seriously at some point.

Comments (10)
  1. Søren says:

    ‘Two Swedes have told me that Danish sounds "drunk"’

    This is because most Swedes who are in Denmark are drunk – due to their own restrictive alcohol laws (or because we are nice enough to bring alcohol to Sweden when we visit – part of the big ‘plan’).

    We sound drunk, but in fact it is the Swedes (and Norweigians) who are drunk.

  2. Raymond Chen says:

    Ah, yes, Øresundsbron. A beautiful bridge, I must say. Before the bridge, Swedes would take the ferry across, get drunk, and take the ferry home. But now that there’s a bridge, they can simply drive home. Much more convenient.

  3. Peter Torr says:

    But they have Lego Land! That was the coolest thing in the world when I was ~5 years old. In fact, I think it would still be great fun even today :-).

    Just the other day I was playing with my little brother and we put together a Lego set. As a kid, I always wanted to work at Lego and design all the really cool stuff that you could buy…

  4. Morten says:

    You must be American, with your little knowledge of Danes. Not only did we gave you Lego but also C++ and C#. Anyhow most Swedes and especially Norwegians can with a little effort understand Danish and visa versa.

  5. Thomas says:

    Yeah, but we also gave them Aqua with their Barbie girl, so I guess it is a tie.

  6. asdf says:

    AT&T gave us C++. You can have C# back though, I don’t want it.

  7. Actually, I had the same discussion with my Swedish girl friend last night — after eight months I’m decent in Swedish but she’s still reluctant to try pronouncing Danish. Don’t know why but have a look at <a href="http://aufrecht.org/blog/one-entry?entry%5fid=12193">Joel Aufrecht’s Learning Danish, Part 1</a> (I’m still waiting for the sequel).

  8. Troels says:

    Don’t feel bad that you can’t pronounce a "soft d". English speaking people have trouble pronouncing lots of sounds, which is why in WWII movies they always refer to Hitler as "Derrr Fuuuhrer" with a U.

    Germans will know what I’m talking about.

  9. Andreas Häber says:

    Hm.. my previous attempt in replying failed :(

    This autumn there was a funny show at the Norwegian TV-channel NRK1 called "Ut i vår hage". One episode of the show was about the Danish people not understanding eachother :).

    You can watch it at http://www.nrk.no/programmer/tv/uti_var_hage/3069554.html

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