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Danish {{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}} (dansk ; dansk sprog, ) is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status.<ref>The Federal Ministry of the Interior of Germany and Minorities in Germany</ref> There are also minor Danish-speaking communities in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, around 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their home language.

Along with the other North Germanic languages, Danish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples that lived in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. Danish, together with Swedish, derives from the East Norse dialect group, while the Old Norwegian dialects before the influence of Danish and Norwegian Bokmål are classified as West Norse along with Faroese and Icelandic. A more recent classification based on mutual intelligibility separates modern spoken Danish, Norwegian and Swedish as Mainland Scandinavian while Icelandic and Faroese are classified as Insular Scandinavian.

Until the 16th century, Danish was a continuum of dialects spoken from Schleswig to Scania with no standard variety or spelling conventions. With the Protestant Reformation and the introduction of printing, a standard language was developed which was based on the educated Copenhagen dialect. It spread through use in the education system and administration though German and Latin continued to be the most important written languages well into the 17th century. Following the loss of territory to Germany and Sweden, a nationalist movement adopted the language as a token of Danish identity, and the language experienced a strong surge in use and popularity with major works of literature produced in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, traditional Danish dialects have all but disappeared, though there are regional variants of the standard language. The main differences in language are between generations, with youth language being particularly innovative.

Danish has a very large vowel inventory comprising 27 phonemically distinctive vowels,{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} and its prosody is characterized by the distinctive phenomenon stød, a kind of laryngeal phonation type. Due to the many pronunciation differences that set apart Danish from its neighboring languages, particularly the vowels, difficult prosody and "weakly" pronounced consonants, it is sometimes considered to be a difficult language to learn and understand,{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} and there is some evidence that small children are slower to acquire the phonological distinctions of Danish.{{#invoke:Footnotes|sfn}} The grammar is moderately inflective with strong (irregular) and weak (regular) conjugations and inflections. Nouns and demonstrative pronouns distinguish common and neutral gender. As in English, Danish only has remnants of a former case system, particularly in the pronouns, and it has lost all person marking on verbs. Its syntax is V2, with the finite verb always occupying the second slot in the sentence.


Danish language sections
Intro  Classification  History  Geographical distribution  Dialects  Phonology  Grammar  Vocabulary  Notes and references  Bibliography  External links  

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