Is danish worth it?
I’m assuming that this question has been asked a lot, and I apologise if it has been. The reason I’m asking is getting responses which are not based off of an outdated version of the course.
Anyways, I am very keen on studying a new language on Duolingo and am struggling between choosing either Swedish or Danish. From what I’ve read, Danish is much harder in terms of pronounciations, which often make no sense when compared to what is written, Swedish on the other hand has been described as melodic and easy to learn. I am visiting Malmö and Copenhagen in early August and would like your input as to whether or not learning Danish would be more useful (putting into consideration the time and effort) than Swedish.
Responses from all types of Swedish/Danish learners and native speakers would be highly appreciated! :)
Considering the shortness of time, I’d go with Swedish. The Danish pronunciation is definitely more difficult than the Swedish one. With Swedish, you can concentrate more on the grammar and vocabulary right from the start.
But apart from that, I enjoy Danish very much because of its pronunciation and I love the way it sounds. Maybe after your trip, you will have had enough exposure to both languages to decide if you want to continue learning one or the other.
If you're just visiting and not planning to live in Denmark (which I assume you don't), you're probably better off learning Swedish because of the easier pronunciation. Not kidding, I don't know a single Dane who doesn't speak English, and especially in Copenhagen, we are used to people not knowing our language. I think both languages are beautiful in their own ways, but you're visiting in under a month and to be honest, I don't think anyone can learn Danish in that amount of time. I'd say that Swedish is easier in some ways, so maybe go for that. Once you are fluent in Swedish, learning the other Nordic languages will be a lot easier as well.
But of course, it's 100% your decision, and I think you should do whatever feels right for you. Good luck :)
Loving learning the Danish language, but I have to agree with the other poster - I think that nearly all Danes, at least around Copenhagen, speak English. I've been to Copenhagen three times before I started learning Danish and I can't remember any places where English was not spoken and I think a lot of signs seemed to be in English (?) Also, I'm not sure you would get the same patient reaction trying to speak Danish to a Dane that you might receive say trying to speak Japanese in Japan but that may depend on where you are. I can't comment on what it might be like in Sweden in this regard. Also, many individuals you might encounter, for example working in restaurants, may not be a native Dane and may actually speak English better than Danish. I feel like if/when I return to Denmark, I will probably use more English than Danish even if I know how to say it in Danish!
That being said, I love learning Danish and it has definitely helped me be able to read some in Norwegian (my grandmother is of Norwegian descent and I recently joined a Norwegian-American organization in DC). The pronunciation is often different between Danish and Norwegian of course. Some of that makes it interesting for me though. I also watch Danish films so I wanted to learn Danish because of that. I think you should pick whichever language seems more exciting to you as that will keep you practicing!
Danish is pretty easy to learn regarding grammar. It's even simpler than English, but the pronunciation is a nightmare. I lived there for a year and studied it hard. I got the level where I could read books and magazines, but no one, and I mean no one, could understand me when I spoke. I struggle with some vowels in English when the word ends in 'l', for example, 'bull' and ball' and 'cool' and 'call'. The difference between these sounds is one of the mainstays of the language so I was sunk before I even started. The Danes like to get you to sat 'red porridge with cream' for sport as it has a lot of difficult sounds in, but it was their vowels in general I simply couldn't pronounce properly.
Plus most Danes speak English, and they are kind of intolerant of any variations of bad Danish accents and even most shop assistants will invariably reply to you with cutting, perfect English if you try to speak Danish to them. There are some lovely Danes, of course, (I married one!) but some seem to take pride in speaking as obtusely as possible so you can't understand them.
I know nothing of Swedish, so can't help you there. But I found Danish easy to learn thanks to its simple structure. It's a very minimalist language, with relatively few words. I've been told I'm not alone in being unable to speak it. I live in France now, and although the language is arguably more complex and is taking me longer than Danish to get to grips with, the folk here are a lot more tolerant of my dodgy accent and generally make a huge effort to understand me. I think it's because they are used to hearing bad accents, but the Danes aren't. If you're prepared to go all out, then do it, but I think 'a little bit of Danish' is generally useless
"If you're prepared to go all out, then do it, but I think 'a little bit of Danish' is generally useless"
I totally agree! Danish (and I believe the other scandinavian langauges, Dutch and probably a few more) isn't strictly needed, as very many people in these contries are comfortable talking in English. Obviously if you want to stay, if you want to work close with people, if theres is 'a special someone' who you want to impress etc. Then by all means, - go for it. If not, probably your time is spend better in other places.
As my name suggest (The DK part) my native tongue is Danish - and I live in Denmark.
Danish is very worthwhile! it is pretty easy to learn and the pronunciations get easy once you get to listen to the language a bit. It was confusing for the first few days but I got the hang of it pretty quick. Also Danish and Swedish are very similar so if you chose Danish it would be easier to understand Swedish as it is an easier language and is derived from Danish. If you chose Swedish it would be harder to understand Danish as it is a harder language. If you choose danish with it being a very slight bit harder you will feel much more accomplished and people will be more impressed with a very tiny bit more work.
I really enjoy your saying that swedish derives from danish. It doesn't. The nordic languages split up hundreds of years before the vikings. English on the other hand largely derives from danish/norwegian.
However choosing between danish and swedish you should choose danish because it will enable you to be understood in Norway as well. Up until the beginning of the 20th century the written norwegian language was danish, and it is still the basis of norwegian "bokmål", spoken widely in the south of Norway.
Besides - as you know - danes and norwegians compete to be the happiest people in the world. This derives from the fact that we can all - norwegians and danes alike - go to our eastern borders, look into Sweden an realise how happy we are, not to live there :-).
I choose Danish because I’d heard the same thing about Norwegian (I’m Norwegian-American and the only one in my Sons of Norway lodge learning Danish. Even our Japanese member is learning Norwegian!) I’d say it’s not necessarily true you’ll be understood when speaking Danish in Norway. And I’ve heard from Danes it doesn’t mean they necessarily understand Norwegian. This is because of slight differences in words or big differences in pronunciation. But written Danish/Norwegian, yes. But I just went to to Swedish Allsång and because we had printed song sheets I could mostly understand what the songs were about because I could read the song sheet in Swedish as close enough to Danish (but would have been lost with most of the spoken Swedish). Although I do agree- I’d be happiest living amongst the Danes or Norwegians vice living in Sweden!
I totally agree that we danes can have difficulties understanding spoken norwegian. This is not different from the problem, a dane from Copenhagen would experience, if he went to the island Bornholm or to the west coast of Jutland and spoke to elderly people. Some danish dialects are quite difficult to understand. Likewise in Norway. However if you go to Oslo (or Christiania as I prefer to call it ;) )or other areas in the south of Norway, which are not too rural, you should be able to understand most of what is said, if you know danish.