Danish is one of the Scandinavian languages passed down from the Viking era. It’s reportedly one of the most difficult European languages to learn – but not for native English speakers. Because of Old Norse influence on Old English, modern English and modern Danish have a lot of vocabulary and grammar in common. It sounds very different, but mastering the pronunciation is ultimately one of the most satisfying aspects of picking up a new language. There are numerous reasons to start learning the language, and here are the top five:
- Doing business
If you are planning to do business in Denmark, it’s important to understand the basics. Most Danes speak English as it’s a widely taught second language; however, this is not always the case and learning your colleagues’ mother-tongue will indicate you have made an effort, alongside helping you to understand what is being said inside and outside of meetings. It's not widely spoken compared to other European languages like French or German so, from a personal development point of view, knowing Danish is a rare skill that will give you an edge.
- Visiting Denmark as a tourist
The Danish are proud of their heritage and language and, although many Danes understand English, being able to understand and speak some Danish goes a long way. In addition to speaking to people, when on holiday, it’s helpful to understand road signs, building names and even descriptions of monuments or objects of interest without constantly referring to a guidebook. Knowing the local language will make a trip abroad much more enjoyable and stress-free.
- It is very similar to other Scandinavian languages
Danish is a North Germanic language, one of several spoken in Scandinavia. It derives from Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings, and has many similarities with Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Icelandic. Therefore, if you learn Danish, you'll find yourself also able to understand most Norwegian and Swedish, giving you better access to all of mainland Scandinavia. Danish is useful outside of Europe too; if you ever plan to visit Greenland you’ll discover that 15-20% of the population speaks Danish there.
- Its linguistic novelty
There are some oddities which make Danish a fun language to learn. For example, there is no word for please, which can make it difficult to understand when you are being asked to do something. The alphabet has twenty-nine letters, three extra in addition to the standard English alphabet. So it's different, but not so different that it's impossible to learn. The Danes also use many idioms which are barely understandable when translated and it’s helpful to understand these so you aren’t left in the dark when conversing with a Dane. An example of this is ‘ugler i mosen’ which literally means ‘owls in the moss’, but in reality describes someone suspicious.
- Brain Training
It's been proven by numerous studies that speaking a second language improves memory, multi-tasking skills and decision making. It's also been shown to keep your brain more resilient in old age. Understanding more languages means having more connections in your brain; more connections mean a faster, stronger, better brain. Even if you never visit Denmark, learning the language can bolster your mind's overall performance.
Learn Danish with Babbel
If you are thinking about learning Danish, then Babbel is a cost-effective and easy online method. It suits many people as it’s possible to study at your own pace. Babbel is a well-known language-learning platform with a proven track record of successfully teaching languages to beginners and improvers.