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What's rewarding about learning Danish?

Hey friends,

I'm an avowed language nerd who recently decided to try Danish, due to it having recently been made available here on Duolingo. I find Danish fun to learn, especially how to pronounce the words.

But I have one question for those who have been learning Danish for longer than I have: What do you find particularly rewarding about the language?

86% of the population of Denmark speaks English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population). That means there isn't much practical value to learning Danish if you're an English speaker like me. Not many people will need a Danish-English interpreter or translator, just because most Danes speak English.

But, for example, is there any Danish literature you enjoy reading? Danish films? Danish video games? Danish YouTube videos? Essentially, have any cultural doors have been opened to you because you learned Danish?

Basically, I want to know what really makes Danish worth learning.

September 20, 2014



I've been learning danish here on Duolingo ever since it launched 27 days ago and I would say the most rewarding thing is to see how suprised my danish friends are about how well I can write and read danish already. When I am here in Denmark, I can watch tv now and read danish subtitles and get a lot out of it, which motivates me to continue to learn more and more danish. Speaking and understanding spoken danish remains very challenging for me though.


There is a rich tradition of Danish humor to which you will gain access. Well worth the effort.


What do you recommend?


If anyone is interested in Danish drama, The Bridge and Borgen are both great shows.


Another suggestion could be the classic TV series "Matador", which is held in extremely high esteem in the Danish population. It follows life in a provincial Danish town from the early 1920 up to the late 1940s and show a lot about how society changed over those decades. A bit like Downton Abbey just better and less sopey.


Forbrydelsen (called The Killing in the US and UK) is good, too. It was the first Danish TV show I'd ever heard of here in the US. It was apparently a big hit in Europe. I remember seeing the show spoofed in a dream sequence on the Absolutely Fabulous 2011 Christmas special (titled Identity) with the original actress Sofie Gråbøl reprising her role as Detective Lund.


I'm from Denmark and lived in the USA for about 5 years. Whenever I talked to someone and we came upon the topic of Denmark and Danish (which always happened, Americans are a lovely, inquisitive people) I would often mention that I only saw 3 good reasons for learning Danish (other than if you want to live here): Benny Andersen, a poet who played beautifully with the language. Dan Turèll, a poet and writer, kind of a Danish beatnik, who also did wonderful things with the language. Peter Høeg, a writer (Smillas Sense Of Snow among others) who just gets Denmark, god and bad. His book, Borderliners (De måske egnede) is probably the best book ever written and gives a good insight into the Danish "soul", if you will. There are other fine authors and media, but I feel these three can only be truly appreciated in their native language. Other than that I don't really see a reason for learning Danish, there's less than 6 million of us and most of us speak English :-)


Thanks for answering so honestly.


Thanks for your thoughtful post :) I'm a definitely a fan of Benny Andersen and Peter Høeg; will have to check out Dan Turèll. I have actually read De måske egnede in Danish and agree it was a very powerful and amazing piece of literature. Would you care to elaborate on your comment, "gives a good insight into the Danish "soul""? I'm very interested in your opinion.


Learning another language awakens and stretches my brain and for that alone, I find it worthwhile. It is neat to watch TV shows or movies in Danish and be able to pick out bits here and there. And one day I would love to visit Denmark. I realize most of the population speaks English...but I think it would add another dimension to be able to converse with the people I meet in Danish.

At the end of the day: I am having fun. :)


I pretty much feel the same way. With this post I wanted to see if anyone could tell me about some extra benefits of learning Danish, but really ultimately I'm going to keep learning Danish just 'cause it's fun. Thanks for weighing in.


Some people might be happy to read the fairy tales of H.C. Andersen or the philosophical works of Søren Kierkegaard in the original language. For fans of contemporary TV shows like Borgen, The Killing, The Bridge etc. it would also add a dimension.


My French teacher told me that Kierkegaard was Norwegian! Huh. The more you know.

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