I began Danish lessons this week – just as a new campaign was launched in the UK urging Britons to learn 1,000 words in a foreign language. As my course is paid for by the Danish government, it seemed foolish not to try. But the warnings are right – this is a fiendishly difficult language.
Reading it is hard enough, but speaking it… well it just bears no resemblance to the written page. And that’s because the Danes seem to miss out so many letters. Take the word selvfølgelig, meaning ‘of course’. It’s pronounced ‘sef-u-li’.
I’m not the only one struggling here. Watch this video by two foreigners trying to help non-Danes pronounce Copenhagen street names. There’s also an amusing piece written by a BBC journalist who’s trying to master the language by osmosis. Yes, she’s also struggling.
Many Danes have told me not to bother trying to learn their language – afterall most speak excellent English. But it seems rude not to try. And given that we’re expecting our three-year-old son Charlie to pick up Danish at his forest school, then surely I have to give it a go. As for learning 1,000 Danish words – I think it’s going to take me some time.
- Learning Danish by osmosis (bbc.co.uk)
- Britons urged to lose ‘lazy linguists’ tag by learning new language (yorkshirepost.co.uk)