Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Danish classes

Marieke and I have been taking Danish language classes for about a month now, and it's starting to feel like this is all part of a huge practical joke aimed at foreigners.

The first day, they showed us that Danish has three extra vowels: æ, ø, å. They are stuck on the end of the regular English alphabet (so it goes a-å). Now, we're learning that there are additional "vowel sounds:" α, ö, and two others which cannot be typed. Last week, an exercise in class was to spell our names. The consonants are easy, but the vowels get really tricky. It’s almost impossible to hear the difference between i/e, æ/a, o/å or u/y.

Also, to add to the confusion, vowels are often not pronounced as they are written (for instance, i can be pronounced as e, æ, a or α). As well, parts of most words are “assimilated,” which means that they are not said. For example, the word selvfølgelig (“of course”) is pronounced seføli.

If you would like to try to learn a bit of Danish, look at The website claims to be able to teach you to speak Danish in ten days. It has hundreds of audio clips with text in English and Danish. Just try the introductory lesson...

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