Danish pronunciation: How to speak with a potato in your mouth


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The initial stumbling block for a lot of non-Danes speaking Danish is being able to say things in a (somewhat) comprehensible manner, and understanding what others are saying back to you.

Danes are notorious amongst their Scandinavian counterparts for mumbling, earning the not so flattering reputation of sounding like they speak with potatoes in their mouth...

In this episode we understand why this is!

We talk about what makes the Danish language special, including:

  • Vowels, vowels, vowels: three extra letters (å/æ/ø); a vowel-heavy language; intonation; assimilation (a.k.a. sounding like you have potatoes in your mouth)
  • How Danish differs from Swedish and Norwegian: and perhaps reflects the countries' personalities?
  • Danish is effectively two languages: the one you speak and the one you read/ write
  • Viking roots: how the longstanding (written) history of Danish differs from, say, languages written down more recently (such as, say, Swahili)
  • The Danish word committee: how new words enter the lexicon compared to, say, Norway ("is it majonæse or mayonaise?")
  • Danglish: the fun mix of Danish and English (it's hard to be a nissemand)
  • Lene, Lena, Line, Lina: four distinct Danish names that are basically indistinguishable to non-Danes because of the additional vowel sounds that Danish possesses
  • Monophthongs vs diphthongs: plus other linguistic differences between Danish and other languages

as well as a discussion about the theory of language acquisition.

We also spend a lot of time discussing practical tips for how to practice pronouncing Danish from three experience language teachers

The book that Josefine brings in is the Danish children's classic Halfdans ABC.

A big thanks to our excellent researcher for this episode Eli Tornøe, and the rest of the What The Denmark team.

Learn more about What The Denmark via:

www.whatthedenmark.com and @whatthedenmark on Instagram

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