Danish Alphabet

The Danish alphabet is based upon the Latin script and has consisted of 29 letters since 1980 when W was separated from V.

The Danish version of the alphabet song still states that the alphabet has 28 letters; the last line reads otte-og-tyve skal der stå, i.e. “that makes twenty-eight”. However, today the letter W is considered an official separate letter.

The letters that were added to the original 26 letters of the Latin script are Æ, Ø, and Å. Before 1948, the sound written Å was written AA, which can still be seen in some place names, such as Aalborg and Aabenraa.

The letters C, Q, W, X, and Z are not used in the spelling of indigenous words. Therefore, the phonemic interpretation of letters in loanwords depends on the language the word is borrowed from. However, Danish tends to preserve the original spelling of loanwords.

Standard Danish orthography has no compulsory diacritics but allows the use of an acute accent for disambiguation. Most often, an accent on E marks a stressed syllable in one of a pair of homographs that have different stresses, for example, en dreng (a boy) versus én dreng (one boy). It can also be part of the official spelling such as in allé (avenue) or idé (idea).

Less often, any vowel except Å may be accented to indicate stress on a word, either to clarify the meaning of the sentence or to ease the reading otherwise.

jeg stód op — I was standing

jeg stod óp — I got out of bed

Most often, however, such distinctions are made using typographical emphasis (italics, underlining) or simply left to the reader to infer from the context, and the use of accents in such cases may appear dated.

All nouns in Danish used to be capitalized, as in German. The reform of 1948 abolished the capitalization of all nouns.

Danish Vocabulary

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FAQs about Danish

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