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Denmark may not be on anyone's very short list of new frontiers; but since its participation in the European Union, it is slowly gaining reputation as a land of opportunity. The country have been tagged as the 'happiest' place on Earth (no offense to a famous theme park) and for good reason. It is a place where corruption is virtually non-existent. It is where people can enjoy carefree strolls, thanks to low crime rates. It is also where the workforce radiates positive-ness, thanks to the Danish people good humor and free-spirited attitude. These characteristics make the country rather tourist and investor-friendly. With that in mind, it can be safely stated that to learn Danish is to earn major benefits.

People have various reasons for learning the language though: school, resume upgrade, business, travel or plain old fun. If you want to learn Danish, some of the aspects that you have to be familiar with are the alphabet, the use of pronouns, grammar-related aspects such as genders and verbs, vocabulary and pronunciation.

The Danish Alphabet

It is relatively easy to learn Danish, as the Danish alphabet is written as the Roman alphabet so you don't need to work on intense sessions on character memorizations. However, there are three additional letters:, and. These letters are also found in the Norwegian alphabet.

A few tips in pronunciation: has the short e sound is, like that in let or egg; is incidentally pronounced nowhere near the o sound as it is pronounced with the short i sound, like in thirst or bit; lastly, the sound is pronounced with the o sound, like in cord or hoard. If you stumble upon text with the character aa, just relax as it is pronounced in the same way that is. It was supposed to have been replaced by the character altogether but it is still found is some Danish texts because it was not 1948 that the move to replace the character was put forward. It depends on the region though because some places like Aalborg and Aabenraa still use the (surprise, surprise) a character.

Pronouns

Pronouns are used in virtually every language but in Danish, there are certain nuances in their usage. There are 'polite' pronouns, such as de and dem, that are used in formal address, although this has been largely abandoned – a trend that has its roots in the 1960s. Now, du and dig (informal address) is largely used in conversation. Keep this in mind when you intend to setup a business in the area.

Genders

There are only 2 genders in the Danish language: common and neuter. However, over three quarters of nouns have the common gender. Note that when you use adjectives, it has to agree not only with the pronoun but with the gender as well. For neuter nouns, add 't' to the adjective. For plural nouns, add 'e' to the adjective. The only way to get familiar with gender is to build your vocabulary.

Verbs

Mastery of your Danish verbs is really easy, but you do have to regularly practice to be as familiar as you can. Add 'r' to the present tense. There are, however, two groups for the treatment of past tenses. With the first group of verbs, you need to add 'ede' if it is in past tense, and 'et' if it is in the present perfect tense. For the second group, add 'te' for the past tense and 't' for the present perfect tense. For negation, all you have to do is add the word 'ikke' after the verb if it's in simple past tense; place it after the auxiliary verbs (has, had, have in English and har in Danish) if it's in the present perfect tense.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation can also get tricky. What makes it particularly more difficult that usual is that while numerous consonants are pronounced the same way you do in English, there are some sounds that need 'special' skills, like the r sounds where you need to produce the sound not with the help of the roof of your mouth but from deep down your tonsils. It can be a mouthful, and it does sound like you are speaking with your mouth full. Serious students may also want to work on glottal stop. It may not be widely used in most regions but mastering it can give a certain Danish-ness to your, well, Danish. A glottal stop is that action you execute when you try to pull a rein on your speech muscles. You need to work on audio resources, and maybe, some visuals on mouth or lip positions to learn how it is done.

Vocabulary

Lastly, you need to work on your vocabulary. This will give you confidence because a decent range in vocabulary will get rid of the groping-for-words bit. The Danish language principally has few words but these words can merge and form new words, much like compound word in the English language, but in a large scale. Up to three words may be merged. As a result, Danish vocabulary has reached the 200,000 mark.

Work on the Danish-specific and sounds and watch out for words that may look similar but actually has a different syllable stress. Starting with cognates may do wonders to your confidence and motivation but you have to be careful as well. The words abstrak (abstract), arkitek (architect) and entusiasme (enthusiasm) are pronounced differently. There are also false cognates like lever. It may be translated as liver, which is correct, but it can also mean the phrase "to live" when it is pronounced in a particular way. Another example is the word 'art', which is Danish for kind, type or class.

Danish may not be way up in the list of beautiful languages ​​but it certainly has its charm. Add the fact that to learn Danish it can be an achievement you can be proud of. It would also be awesome to be able to use it in conversation with an awesome people. Just take note of these language aspects and work with whatever resources you can get your hands on – audiobooks, textbooks, online forums, software, and what-not, practice regularly and you'll soon find yourself saying Godmorgen and Hvordan har du det in good Danish.

Learn Danish – Language Aspects

Learn Danish - Language Aspects