Voice Over Sydney: Danish (Dansk) belongs to the East Scandinavian group of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by 5.4 million people in Denmark. It is also spoken in Canada, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, USA. The total number of speakers of Danish worldwide is estimated at around 5.6 million (Ethnologue).
Danish is closely related to Norwegian and Swedish. The three languages developed from Old Norse which was spoken in the areas of Scandinavia that are now Norway, Denmark and Sweden. To this day, Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes can talk to each other without an interpreter. Despite the high degree of mutual intelligibility it would not be correct to call the three languages dialects, because Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes see these languages as standardised official languages of their respective countries with separate norms for speaking and writing.
Denmark mapDanish and Swedish became unitary standardized languages earlier than Norwegian. They developed an independent status from the time of the Reformation when the Bible was translated into each of them.
Voice Over Sydney: Danish
Denmark’s got its own Lutheran Church and its own Bible. It developed a written language based on the language spoken in and around Copenhagen. It imposed this language on Norway as well.
Voice Over Sydney: Swedish
After Sweden gained its independence from Danish rule in 1526, it developed a written language based on the language spoken in and around Stockholm. When the Swedish military power took over Danish and Norwegian provinces, they also adopted Swedish writing.
Voice Over Sydney: Norwegian
Norwegians learned to write Danish during the 4 centuries of domination by Denmark (c. 1380-1814). However, the spoken language developed along different lines. After the Norwegians won their independence from Denmark, they were left with a standardised spoken language which, although written like Danish, differed from it in its sound system and vocabulary. This language is known today as bokmål. Thus, bokmål is a descendant of Old Norwegian in its spoken form, and Old Danish in its written form.