Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

Nordic FAQ - 3 of 7 - DENMARK
Section - 3.2 General information

( Single Page )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Cities ]

Top Document: Nordic FAQ - 3 of 7 - DENMARK
Previous Document: News Headers
Next Document: 3.3 History
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
  3.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation
   Denmark is the southernmost of the Nordic countries. Located between
   the North Sea on the west and the Baltic Sea on the southeast, Denmark
   is separated from Norway by the Skagerrak and from Sweden by the
   Kattegat and the Øresund. In the south, it shares a 68 km border with
   Germany. It consists of the peninsula of Jutland (Jylland) in the
   west, and an archipelago of 406 islands in the east, of which the most
   important ones are Zealand (Sjælland) on which Copenhagen is located,
   and Funen (Fyn). Denmark is part of Europe's temperate deciduous
   forest belt. The natural vegetation in most of the country is a mixed
   forest, with the beech most common tree. However, almost all parts of
   the country are under cultivation today, and virtually all the
   existing forests have been planted. Coniferous trees prevail in parts
   of the former heath areas in western Jutland, and the dune areas have
   been forested with spruce and pine. Denmark has a 12% forest cover.
  3.2.2 Economy
   Denmark is one of the smaller states of Europe, only slightly larger
   than Switzerland. All of Denmark is very flat, the highest peak being
   only 173 meters high. This, as well as the fertile soil and temperate
   climate, makes it very suitable for agriculture; about 70% of
   Denmark's land surface is used for agricultural production (but only
   about 7% of the labor force is in agriculture). Barley is the most
   important crop, followed by grass and green fodder, and root crops.
   Most of the barley and root crops are grown primarily for use as
   livestock feed (some, of course, goes to the worldfamous Danish
   beers). About 90% of all farm income is derived from animal products;
   sausages, bacon, cheese and butter are the most famous products of
   Danish animal husbandry. Danish design is world famous. Denmark
   doesn't have much natural resources, although limestone, clay, and
   gravel are mined in many areas. In northern Jutland, salt deposits
   have been exploited since World War II, and granite and kaolin are
   mined on the island of Bornholm. Since 1972 petroleum and gas deposits
   of the Danish sector of the North Sea have been exploited.
  3.2.3 Government
   According to the constitution Denmark is a constitutional monarchy
   with the legislative power jointly vested in the regent and the
   Parliament, but the responsibility for the actions of the king/queen
   solely taken by the ministers in the Cabinet. The Evangelical Lutheran
   Church is supported by the State as a State Church.
   The parliamentary system has been unicameral since 1953; the
   parliament is called the 'Folketing'. The 179 members (of which two
   are elected in Greenland and two in the Faroe Islands) are elected for
   four-year terms. The Prime Minister can call an early election. For
   the last 20 years there have never been fewer than 8 parties
   represented in the Folketing.
   Denmark is a member of the European Union, and elects 16 members of
   the European parliament. The Faroes and Greenland, on the other hand,
   are outside the EU.
   Since 1955 Denmark has had an ombudsman, who oversees the conduct of
   the cabinet and the decisions of the administration. All citizens have
   the right to appeal government actions to the ombudsman.

[ the sections above are available at the www-page ]

  3.2.4 Population & culture
   Denmark was settled already 10,000 years ago, when the ice retreated
   from Scandinavia. Danes descend from various Germanic tribes,
   including the Jutes and Angles who settled England in the 5th century.
   There is a small German minority living in southern Jutland and a
   Danish minority living in North Germany. Danish is a Germanic language
   of the Nordic branch, mutually intelligible (with some practice) with
   Norwegian and Swedish.
   The kingdom of Denmark includes also the autonomous areas of Greenland
   (area: 2.2 mill. km², pop. 53,000) and Faroe Islands (area: 1,400 km²,
   pop. 48,000). The inhabitants speak a language (Faroese) resembling
   Icelandic and some Western Norwegian dialects. Eskimos speaking
   Greenlandic (a language based on a mid-19th century creation of a
   single literary language out of many Inuit dialects) form the largest
   group of Greenlanders; the inhabitants of Faroe Islands descend from
   the Viking settlers who arrived in the 9th century and the Irish monks
   and slaves who also made it to the Island.
   As can be expected Danish culture could be called more Central
   European in character than that of other Nordic countries.
   Particularly it could be noted that mentality and food are rather
   similar from Holland to Scania.
   Important figures include e. g. the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard
   (1813-55), the composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931), the astronomer Tycho
   Brahe (1546-1601), the authors Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75) and
   Karen Blixen (1885-1962), the architect Jørn Utzon (1918-), the
   painter P. S. Krøyer (1851-1909), the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen
   (1768-1844), and the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr
  3.2.5 The Danish language
   This is a brief description of some of the characteristics of the
   Danish language and some of the differences and similarities between
   Danish and the other North Germanic languages.
      How do I identify a Danish text if I don't know the language?
   Look for the letters æ, ø, and å. If you find all three of them, you
   have narrowed your choices down to Danish or Norwegian (both bokmål
   and nynorsk). Telling written Danish from Norwegian (especially
   bokmål) can be fairly difficult; you sometimes come across whole
   sentences that are absolutely identical in the two languages. The
   easiest might be to look for double consonants at the end of words,
   Norwegian often has words ending in -ss, -kk, etc. while this is never
   the case in Danish.
      How is Danish pronunciation different from Swedish/Norwegian?
   The spoken Danish has a rather poor reputation for some reason. The
   many soft d's and g's are often a cause of much amusement among other
   Nordics (of course, _their_ languages sound pretty funny in our ears
   too :-).
   The soft Danish d's and g's are reasonably close to their Spanish (!)
   equivalents; this might give you an idea about the pronunciation. D's
   and g's tend to get soft between vowels but never at the beginning of
   a word.
   On the other hand, contemporary Danish does not have the Swedish or
   Norwegian "soft k" (in Swedish/Norwegian a k/kj is pronounced
   something like sh/ch before a front vowel - e, i, y, ä/æ, or ö/ø). In
   Danish (probably due to German influence) the k is always pronounced
   as a "hard k", i.e. like the English "key". However, this is a fairly
   recent thing; old spellings like "Kjøbenhavn" indicate that also
   Danish had "soft k" (only a century ago?). And also the dialects of
   Bornholm and Northern Jutland (these areas are often the last to pick
   up pronunciation trends originating in the capital) still follow
   "Swedish pronunciation rules" with regard to k (and g).
   The glottal stop ("stød" in Danish) is another characterstic feature.
   It is similiar to the non-pronunciation of "tt" in the Cockney
      Genders and definite articles.
   Like Swedish, Danish has two genders: The common gender (originally
   there were both masculine and feminine) and the neuter gender. Some
   Danish dialects (e.g. in North Jutland) still have all three genders;
   dialects in western and southern Jutland have only the common gender.
   Like the other North Germanic languages Danish has the definite
   article at the end of the word, thus "a man" = "en mand", but "the
   man" = "manden". Surprisingly, dialects of western and southern
   Jutland follow the more usual system of English, German, French, etc.:
   "A man" = "en mand", "the man" = "æ mand". It is not clear why one of
   Europe's most significant linguistic borders (separating areas having
   the definite article before/after the word) is running straight
   through Jutland!
  3.2.6 The Danish alphabet
   Danish has three additional letters compared to the English alphabet:
   æ, ø, and å (see the section 1.8 on the Nordic graphemes for more
   A question often asked by non-Danes is: "Why are Århus and Ålborg
   sometimes spelt with double-a and sometimes with a-with-circle? What's
   the difference?" Well, it is a matter of old and new spelling
   conventions. According to Søren Hornstrup <> the
   "Nudansk ordbog" (Concurrent Danish) quotes "Retskrivningsordbogen"
   for the proper usage of å versus aa:
     The letter å was substituted for aa in 1948 as the token for
     å-sound. It is still possible to use aa for å in Danish personal
     and place names. In personal names you should follow the way the
     named person uses. [...]
     In Danish place names Å, å is always the correct spelling, e.g.,
     Århus, Tåstrup, Grenå. Only if you want to respect strong local
     traditions you could use Aa, aa, e.g., Ålborg or Aalborg, Åbenrå or
     Aabenraa. In Nordic place names you should use Å, å, e.g., Ålesund,
     And from "Håndbog i Nudansk":
     It is always correct to use å in Danish place names. But you should
     know that you might offend the local residents. [...]
     Until 1984 the central administration (statsadministrationen) had
     to use å, but in 1984 it was allowed to follow local traditions.
     More from the same book:
     The Danish alphabet has 29 letters in the following order:
     a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z æ ø å (aa)
     The letter aa is placed in parentheses. This is because it is not
     normally used in the language, only in names. Also note that the
     capitalization of the double-a is "Aa" and not "AA".
   Århus was among the first cities to adopt the a-ring; Ålborg on the
   contrary, has been insisting on using the double-a. Since the central
   administration between 1948 and 1984 only recognized the å-spelling,
   all road signs etc. said "Ålborg". After 1984 when a number of cities
   successfully readopted the old spelling with double-a, the new road
   signs said "Aalborg". So if you see a sign with the old spelling
   (double-a) it is probably a new sign, and if you see a sign with the
   new spelling (a-ring) it is probably an old sign ... confused?
   Surprisingly perhaps, the reason for cities like Ålborg, Åbenrå, and
   Grenå to readopt the double-a is not one of internationalization
   (though double-a is surely more "ASCII-friendly" than a-ring) but
   rather one of nostalgia, it seems.
   The alphabetical sorting is not affected by the aa/å controversy;
   Danish person names and place names with aa are alphabetized as if
   they were spelt with å (i.e. last in the alphabet), but _only_ when
   the aa represents the å sound rather than a "long a". Thus, in a
   Danish encyclopedia the city Aabenraa and the author Jeppe Aakjær are
   at the end of the encyclopaedia, while the German city Aachen and
   Finnish architect Alvar Aalto are found in the beginning!
   < A comment from Byrial Ole Jensen: >
   This is not quite correct. aa should be alphabetized as å when it is
   pronounced as one sound even if it is an "a" sound. So the right place
   to search for Aachen in a Danish encyclopaedia is a little after
   Åbenrå near the end of the encyclopaedia.
   This is according to official rules for the Danish language which is
   found in Retskrivningsordbogen (The Dictionary of Correct Writing??).
   But I must admit that only few people know this alphabetizing rule and
   it is likely that even not dictionaries follow it in order to not
   confuse people not knowing the rule. Retskrivningsordbogen itself
   places the word "kraal" BOTH between "kr." and "krabask" AND between
   "krøsus" and "kråse".

[ the sections above are available at the www-page ]


User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

Top Document: Nordic FAQ - 3 of 7 - DENMARK
Previous Document: News Headers
Next Document: 3.3 History

Single Page

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (SCN Faq-maintainer)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM