Danish is the official language in Denmark and is spoken by over 6 million people mostly on the Danish territory, but also in Greenland and in the Faroe Islands. It is derived from the Germanic languages branch of the Indo-European language family. Alongside with Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic, it is one of the Scandinavian languages.
All these languages have the same ancestor, Old Norse, which was spoken by the Vikings from the 9th to the 11th century. Later on, Old Norse evolved into two different languages: Old East Norse, spoken in Iceland and Norway, and Old West Norse, spoken in Sweden and Denmark. In 1100, the Danish varieties began to differentiate from the Swedish varieties and it is in 1550, with the first Danish translation of the Bible, that Danish finally became distinct from the other Scandinavian languages. Standard Danish appeared in the 19th century, after a reform was passed that aimed at standardizing the language.
Today, there are four different Danish dialects: standard Danish, spoken in Copenhagen, Insular Danish, spoken on the island of Funen, Jutlandic, spoken in the Jutland peninsula and Eastern Danish, spoken on the island of Bornholm. But despite their differences, all these dialectal varieties are mutually intelligible.
Danish is the language of famous writers like the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard or the author of fairy tales Hans Christian Andersen, and has a distinctive feature: its vocabulary is considered as unlimited, since new words can be created by deriving or combining existing words. In total, the Danish vocabulary consists of more than 200 000 words.
Classification by family:
Indo-European languages > Germanic languages > Scandinavian languages > East Scandinavian languages> Danish