Alternative name(s): Dänisch (de), danois (fr), Deens (nl), danska (sv)

Language family: Indo-European

Language Group: Germanic

Geographical use: Denmark, Schleswig-Holstein (North Germany), Greenland and on the Faerøer islands

Information: Danish history can be split into three periods. Old Danish was found on various runic inscriptions (250-800). According to the inscription sites Old Danish was spoken from Jutland to South Sweden. Of Middle Danish (800-1500) we know that there was not a common language. There were three versions: the version of Scania, Seeland and Jutland. Middle Danish underwent quite some drastic changes. Grammar was simplified enormously, and a great number of Low German loan words were absorbed. The Seeland version became the standard of the common Danish language. By 1500 this version was the national language and Danish really became a literary language. In the second half of the 17th century Denmark was under German rule. As a consequence a lot of German words were added to the vocabulary. Most of those disappeared later on. By the early 18th century the grammatical development had ended. The 19th and 20th centuries were marked by the assimilation of various German, English and French words, especially technical terms.

The first official spelling came into force in 1871. The most significant spelling reform occurred in 1948. The nouns are no longer written with capital letters (as in German) and the letter aa was replaced by å, which brought Danish closer to Norwegian and Swedish.

Danish has two cases (nominative and genitive) and two genders. Most striking is the hard voice entry that was derived from an original tonal accent.