The difficulty of a language is very relative, as it depends on what languages the person already knows, their talent for learning languages and many other factors. If you speak English, Danish is actually quite simple when it comes to grammar and some vocabulary.
However (!!), the pronounciation of Danish is immensely difficult, because Danish is a very mumbling language with sounds from the very back of your throat, which you don’t hear in many languages. Even the Swedes and the Norwegians, whose language is fairly similar to Danish, raise an eyebrow here and just shake their heads.
Being a native Danish speaker, even I sometimes encounter some words, which I am not quite sure how to pronounce correctly and that made me wonder: What are the most difficult Danish words to pronounce for people learning Danish??
I made a post in two different expat groups in Denmark and got tons of comments, which I have since tried to categorize. So without further ado, let’s have a look at these challenging words!
UPDATE: As requested from a reader, we have recorded a podcast episode, where you can hear how these crazy Danish words are actually pronounced – Enjoy!
Cities, areas and streetnames
Rødovre & Hvidovre
Of the many many MANY difficult Danish words to pronounce that were mentioned, Rødovre get’s the first prize as being the most mentioned and Hvidovre as the runner up.
One suggested that pronouncing Rødovre as ‘Rollover’ did the trick sometimes!
This word could easily be the final word in a spelling bee competition. A piece of advice: Don’t move here, unless you have mastered the Danish language to perfection. It would be a nightmare to say this streetname to taxidrivers or when friends ask you where you live.
The ‘GreyBrothersSquare’ is a great place for drinks or just to hang out in Nørrebro, but a real challenge to pronounce.
It’s quite ironic that the most touristic shopping street in Copenhagen, which is mostly visited by foreigners has a name that no one but the Danes can pronounce.
Amager is the island where the Copenhagen Airport is and is pronounced nothing like it’s written. Forget the ‘g’ and ‘e’, and you will get ‘Amar’, which is how it is actually pronounced.
At the very tip of Amager (Amar) you will find a beautiful idyllic fairytale-like fishing village with a view over Sweden with the challenging name Dragør (Drau-ør).
Foods that are difficult to pronounce in Danish
Brød & Rugbrød
So simple, yet so challenging. Bread and ryebread requires a minor throat exercise to pronounce correctly.
The Danish word for spices is tricky and maybe this is why we don’t really use that many spices in danish cooking. Try saying this: ‘Krydreurtedressing’ (Herb Dressing).
A dish you sadly have to wave goodbye to ordering in restaurants is smoked trout, which is ‘Røget ørred’ or ‘Røgede ørreder’ (in plural) in Danish. Yeah, I needed a glass of water after saying that too.
You will see this word in most bigger supermarkets with signs for the different food categories, such as cheese, dairy and….cold cuts, which is ‘kødpålæg’.
At a first glance, this word doesn’t seem that bad. But let’s be honest. Nothing is easy with the Danish soft D’s.
The double D’s can trick you into thinking that this word, meaning ‘vinegar’, is supposed to be pronounced with a hard D, but nope. We are still dealing with a soft D here.
A list of other difficult words to pronounce
Opholdstilladelse (residence permit)
Ledelseserfaring (management/leadership experience)
Selvfølgelig (of course)
Imidlertid (however/in the meantime)
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!