Danish phonology

Danish phonology

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Danish language


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Modern Standard Danish has the following 21 consonants:

Bilabial Labiodental Dental Alveolar Alveolo-palatal Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive ɡ̊
Fricative f s ɕ h
Approximant ʋ ʊ̯ ð̞ j ɪ̯ ʁ̞ ɐ̯
Lateral appr. l
Table of allophones
Phoneme Pronunciation
  In syllable onset In syllable coda
/p/ [pʰ] [b̥]
/b/ [b̥] [b̥]
/t/ [tˢ] [d̥]
/d/ [d̥] [ð̞]
/k/ [kʰ] [ɡ̊]
/ɡ/ [ɡ̊] [ɪ̯] after front vowels,

[ʊ̯] after back vowels

/f/ [f] [f]
/s/ [s] [s]
/h/ [h]  
/v/ [ʋ] [ʊ̯]
/j/ [j], [ɕ] after [s] or [tˢ] [ɪ̯]
/r/ [ʁ] [ɐ̯]
/l/ [l] [l]
/m/ [m] [m]
/n/ [n] [n], [ŋ] before /ɡ k/

The Danish allophones can be analyzed into 15 distinctive consonant phonemes, /p t k b d ɡ m n f s h v j r l/, where /p t k d ɡ v j r/ have different pronunciation in syllable onset vs. syllable coda.[1]

[ɕ] occurs only after /s/ or /t/. Since [j] doesn't occur after these phonemes, [ɕ] can be analyzed as /j/, which is devoiced after voiceless alveolar frication. This makes it unnecessary to postulate a /ɕ/-phoneme in Danish.[2]

Instances of [ŋ] can be analyzed as /n/ as it only occurs before /ɡ/ or /k/ and isn't contrasting with [n]. This makes it unnecessary to postulate an /ŋ/-phoneme in Danish.[3]

/p, t, k/ are voiceless and aspirated in syllable onset: [pʰ, tˢ, kʰ] (some scholars analyse them as voiceless aspirated lenis: [b̥ʰ, d̥ˢ, ɡ̊ʰ]). aspiration is lost in syllable coda.[4]

/b, d, ɡ/ are voiceless and lenis in syllable onset: [b̥, d̥, ɡ̊]. In syllable coda /d, ɡ/ and sometimes /b/ are opened: [ʊ̯ ð̞ ɪ̯/ʊ̯]. /ɡ/ becomes [ɪ̯] after front vowels and [ʊ̯] after back vowels.[5]

[ʋ, ʁ] may have slight frication, but are usually pronounced as pure approximants.

In syllable coda, /v/ and /r/ are normally pronounced [ʊ̯] and [ɐ̯]. In slow and careful speech /v/ is often = [ʋ]). /r/ forms a diphthong with the preceding tautosyllabic vowel: e.g. stor "big" [ˈsd̥oɐ̯ˀ], næring "nourishment" [ˈnɛɐ̯eŋ]. /a(ː)r/ and /ɔːr/ / /ɔr/ coalesce into the long vowels [aː] and [ɒː] respectively. /ər/, /rə/ and /rər/ are all rendered as [ɐ], e.g. læger "doctors" = lære "teach, learn; doctrine" = lærer "teaches, learns; teacher" [ˈlɛːɐ].

/v.ə/, /j.ə/ and /d.ə/ (/əd/) are normally rendered as the vowels [ʊ], [ɪ] and [ð̩]. [ʊ], [ɪ] are pretty close to [o] and [e], e.g. leve "live" = Leo [leːʊ]. /v.əd/ and especially /j.əd/ are frequently assimilated to [ð̞̩] (in the case of /v.əd/ normally, but not exclusively, with an indication of a rounding at the outset),[clarification needed] e.g. meget "much, very" [ˈmɑːð̞̩], Strøget "a central shopping street" [ˈsd̥ʁʌð̞ˀð̞̩]. Since the word-final phoneme is /t/ in Jutlandic Standard Danish, these words are normally pronounced [ˈmɑːɪd̥], [ˈsd̥ʁʌɪ̯ˀɪd̥]


Modern Standard Danish has around 20 different vowel qualities. These vowels are shown here in a narrow transcription. In the rest of the article and in IPA transcriptions of Danish in Wikipedia the diactics are usually omitted:

Front Near-front Central Near-back Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded unrounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
Close i y u
Near-close ɪ ʊ
Close-mid ɛ̝ ø
Mid œ̝ ə̟˒ ɔ̟˔
Open-mid æ̝ œ
Near-open ɶ̝ ɐ ʌ̟˕ ɒ̝
Open ɑ̈
Some vowel allophones[6][7]
Phoneme Pronunciation
  Default Before /r/ After /r/
/iː/ [iː]
/i/ [i]
/eː/ [eː] [ɛː] ~ [æː]
/e/ [e] [ɛ] ~ [æ]
/ɛː/ [ɛː] [æː] [æː] / [ɑ]1
/ɛ/ [ɛ] [æ] ~ [a] [a] / [ɑ]2
/aː/ [æː] [ɑː]
/a/ [a] ~ [æ] / [ɑ]3 [ɑ]
/yː/ [yː]
/y/ [y]
/øː/ [øː] [œː]
/ø/ [ø] [œ] / [ɶ]4
/œː/ [œː] ~ [ɶː] [œː] NA
/œ/ [œ] [ɶ] ~ [ʌ] [œ] ~ [ɶ]
/uː/ [uː] [uː] ~ [oː]
/u/ [u] [u] ~ [o]
/oː/ [oː]
/o/ [o]5 / [ɔ] [o] [o]5 / [ɔ]
/ɔː/ [ɔː] [ɒː] [ɔː]
/ɔ/ [ʌ] / [ɒ]4 [ɒ] [ʌ] / [ɒ]4
/ə/ [ə] [ɐ]
  1. Before /d/
  2. Before labials and alveolars
  3. Before labials and velars
  4. Before /v/
  5. In open syllables

[ə] and [ɐ] occurs only in unstressed syllables. With the exception of [a], [ʌ], [ə] and [ɐ] all vowels may be either long and short. Long vowels may have stød, thus making it possible to distinguish 30 different vowels in stressed syllables. However, vowel length and stød are most likely features of the syllable rather than features of the vowel.

These allophones can be analyzed into 11 distinctive vowels, where allophonic alternation mainly depends on whether the vowel occurs before or after /r/. The vowel /ə/ only occurs in unstressed syllables. All other phonemes may occur both stressed and unstressed.

Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded unrounded rounded
Close i y u
Close-mid e ø o
Mid ɛ œ ə ɔ
Open a

The distinction between /y ø œ/ is upheld only in very few words, e.g. /syns sønˀs sœns/ synes, synds, søns ("seems, sins, sons"). By disregarding interjections, loanwords, religious and archaic words it becomes possible to postulate only two front rounded vowel phonemes /y ø/.

The distribution of [a] and [ɑ] is almost entirely predictable, making it unnecessary to postulate two different phonemes, i.e. /a ɑ/. However, a two-phoneme interpretation can be justified with reference to the unexpected vowel quality in words like [ɑndʁɐ ɑnɐleːð̩s] andre, anderledes ("others, different"), and an increasing amount of loanwords.

The distribution of back vowels [u o ɔ ɒ ʌ] is almost entirely predictable. However, an interpretation with four back vowel phonemes, i.e. /u o ɔ ʌ/, can be justified by the unexpected vowel quality in words like [mɔ pɔ] må, på ("may, on") vs. the regular [sʌ nʌ] så, nå ("then, oh"). In that case /ʌ/ would be the only vowel phoneme without distinctive length, since [ʌ] only occurs as short.

Long and short vowels

Long vowels occur in syllables which were originally open, i.e. there was not more than one short consonant after the vowel. Since the long consonants have been shortened, vowel quantity has become phonological: /baːnə/ bane "course" ≠ /banə/ bande "swear", /iːlə/ ile "hasten" ≠ /ilə/ ilde "badly".

There are long vowels in some syllables which were originally closed, especially in neuters of adjective stems ending in /s/ and /n/ (e.g. pænt "nice" /pɛːˀnt/) and in the preterites and participles of verb stems ending in /s/, /n/ and /t/ (e.g. /sbiːstə/ spiste "ate" [ˈsb̥iːsd̥ə], /føːtə/ fødte "gave birth to" [ˈføːd̥ə]).

The distinction between long and short vowels are neutralised before tautosyllabic /v, j, d, ɡ, r/ that are all realized as vocoids in coda position.

Current developments

The vowel system is unstable, and the contemporary language is experiencing a merger of more of these phonemes. Thus, many speakers tend to confuse /eː/ with /ɛː/, /e/ with /ɛ/, /øː/ with /œː/ and /ø/ with /œ/.[8]

Before labials and velars, /a/ is [ɑ] in most varieties: in other positions, it is [a] in the conservative speakers.

[a], the regular allophone of /ɛ/ after /r/ is [ɑ] before labials and alveolars in the language of most younger speakers, thus neutralizing the distinction between /rɛ/ and /ra/ before these consonants. Before velars, it is often realised as a diphthong [ɑɪ] by younger speakers; the difference between strække ([ˈsd̥ʁa̝ɡ̊ə]) "stretch" and strejke ([ˈsd̥ʁɑ̈jɡ̊ə]) "strike", the only minimal pair, is practically non-existent.

The distinction between /ø/ and /œ/, which is upheld only before nasals, is blurred[citation needed]. One often hears [ø] for /œ/ (e.g. bønder [ˈb̥ønˀɐ] instead of [ˈb̥œnˀɐ]) and [œ] for /ø/ (e.g. bøtte [ˈb̥œd̥ə] instead of [ˈb̥ød̥ə]). However, /ø/ = ⟨y⟩ is normally pronounced only [ø] (one may hear pynte [ˈpʰœnd̥ə] instead of [ˈpʰønd̥ə], though)[citation needed].


Unlike the neighboring Mainland Scandinavian languages Swedish and Norwegian, the prosody of Danish does not have phonemic pitch. Stress is phonemic and distinguishes words like billigst [ˈb̥ilisd̥] "cheapest" and bilist [b̥iˈlisd̥] "car driver". The main rules for the position of the stress are:

  1. Inherited words are normally stressed on the first syllable.
  2. The prefixes be-, for-, ge-, u- are unstressed, e.g. for’stå "understand", be’tale "pay", u'mulig "impossible" (NB there is also a stressed for- in nouns corresponding to the verbal prefix fore-).
  3. In many compound adjectives, especially those ending in -ig and -lig, the stress is replaced from the first to the second syllable, e.g. vidt’løftig "circumstantial", sand'synlig "probable".
  4. Words of French origin are stressed on the last syllable (except /ə/), e.g. renæ’ssance, mil’jø.
  5. Words of Greek and Latin origin are stressed according to the Latin accent rules, i.e. stress on the penultimate if it is long or else on the antepenultimate, e.g. Ari’stoteles, Ho’rats.
  6. The learned suffixes -aner, -ansk, -ance, -a/ens, -a/ent, -ere, -i, -ik, -ion, -itet, -ør are stressed, e.g. finge’rere, situa’tion, poli’tik, århusi’aner. The preceding syllable is stressed before the learned suffixes -isk, -iker, -or, e.g. po’lemisk, po’litiker, radi’ator. The suffix -or is stressed in the plural: radia’torer (colloquial: radi’atorer).
  7. Verbs lose their stress (and stød, if any) in certain positions:
With an object without a definite or indefinite article: e.g. ’Jens ’spiser et ’barn [ˈjɛns ˈsb̥iːˀsɐ ed̥ ˈb̥ɑːˀn] "Jens eats a child" ~ ’Jens spiser ’børn [ˈjɛns sb̥isɐ ˈb̥ɶɐˀn] "Jens eats children".
In a fixed phrase with an adverb or an adverbial: ’Helle ’sov ’længe [ˈhɛlə ˈsʌʊˀ ˈlɛŋə] "Helle slept for a long time" ~ ’Helle sov ’længe [ˈhɛlə sʌʊ ˈlɛŋə] "Helle slept late".
Before the direction adverbs af, hen, hjem, ind, indad, ned, nedad, op, opad, over, ud, udad, under (but not the location adverbs henne. inde, nede, oppe, ovre, ude): e.g. han ’går ’ude på ’gaden [hæn ˈɡɒːˀ ˈuːð̪̩ pʰɔ ˈɡ̊æːð̪̩n] "he walks on the street" ~ han går ’ud på ’gaden [hæn ɡɒ ˈuð̪ˀ pʰɔ ˈɡ̊æːð̪̩n] "he walks into the street".


The original pitch tone has been replaced by an opposition between syllables with and without the stød. The stød is not a separate phoneme, but a suprasegmental feature that may accompany certain syllables; those with a long vowel or that end with a voiced consonant.

The stød is phonemic since many words are kept apart on the basis of the presence or absence of the stød alone, e.g. løber "runner" [ˈløːb̥ɐ]løber "runs" [ˈløːˀb̥ɐ / ˈløʊ̯ˀɐ], ånden "breathing" [ˈʌnn̩]ånden "the spirit" [ˈʌnˀn̩].

It is impossible to predict the presence or absence of the stød; it has to be learned. However there are some main rules:

  1. Original monosyllabic words have stød. Words that ended in consonant + r, l, n in Old Danish have the stød even though an anaptyctic vowel was later developed. The postposed definite article, which has become an inseparable part of the word, does not influence the word.
  2. All umlauting plurals in -er (ODan. -r) have the stød, e.g. hænder [ˈhɛnˀɐ] "hands".
  3. Most presents from strong verbs (ODan. -r) have the stød, e.g. finder [ˈfenˀɐ] "finds". Many of the presents of verbs with a preterite in -te have the stød as well (but not the presents of verbs with a preterite in -ede).
  4. Monosyllabic words that originally ended in a short vowel + a single n, r, l, v, ð, g do not have the stød. However, when the definite suffix is added, the stød "returns", e.g. ven [ˈʋɛn] ~ vennen [ˈʋɛnˀn̩] "friend".
  5. Stød is frequently avoided in words with the combinations rp, rt, rk, rs, e.g. vers [ˈʋæɐ̯s] "verse", kort [ˈkʰɒːd̥] "card, map"/"short".
  6. Most (non-derived) words in -el, -er have the stød. Most words in -en do not have the stød. Nomina agentis in -er do not have the stød.
  7. All words with the unstressed prefixes be-, for-, ge- have the stød.
  8. There is stød in most compounds that have a replacement of the stress from first to the second syllable.
  9. There is frequently the stød in the second part of compound verbs.
  10. Monosyllables regularly lose the stød when they are the first part of a compound: mål [ˈmɔːˀl] "target, goal" ~ målmand [ˈmɔːlˌmænˀ] "goalkeeper". The vowel is sometimes shortened: tag [ˈtˢæːˀ] "roof" ~ tagterrasse [ˈtˢɑʊ̯tˢaˌʁɑsə] ”roof terrace”
  11. Words of Greek or Latin origin have the stød on a stressed antepenultimate syllable or a stressed last syllable. A stressed penultimate syllable has the stød if the word ends in -er.

Dania transcription

Some Danish handbooks (including some pronunciation dictionaries) normally use another transcription standard known as Dania which utilizes the pronunciation of Danish vowel letters. There is no official moderation of the standard, and specific phonetic symbols may therefore differ from author to author. Also there are no absolute phonetic references for the standard, and its usage is therefore discouraged by Danish phoneticians and phonologists.

Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular/
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Fricative f s ʂ h
Approximant w ʋ ð j ʀ
Lateral l
Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
i iː y yː u uː
Close-mid e eː ø øː o oː
Mid æ æː ö öː ə å åː
Open-mid ɑ ɑː ɔ̈ ɔɹ åɹ
ɑ̇ a aː

NB: Many letters have a different meaning in the two transcription systems:

Dania IPA
a ɑ
ɑ̇ a
ɑ æ
æ ɛ
ɔ ʌ
å ɔ̞


Letter(s) Most common corresponding phonemes
a /a/ or /aː/
b, bb /b/
c /k/ or /s/ (in foreign words)
ch /tj/ or /sj/ (in foreign words)
d, dd /d/
e /ə/, /e/, /ɛ/, /eː/ or /ɛː/
f, ff /f/
g /ɡ/, /k/ or nothing
gg /k/
h /h/, nothing before other consonants
i /i/, /iː/ or /e/
j /j/
k, kk /k/
l, ll /l/
m, mm /m/
n, nn /n/
o /o/ or /oː/
p, pp /p/
q /k/
r, rr /r/
s, ss /s/
t, tt /t/
u /u/, /uː/ or /o/
v /v/
w /v/
x /ks/
y /y/, /yː/ or /ø/
z /s/
æ /ɛ/ or /ɛː/
ø /ø/, /œ/, /øː/ or /œː/
å /ɔ/ or /ɔː/
  • In monomorphematic words vowels are usually short before two or more consonants + e.
  • Vowels are usually long before a single consonant + e.
  • In two consecutive vowels the stressed vowel is always long and the unstressed is always short.

The orthographic tradition in Danish is to preserve the original spelling of foreign words. The letters c, q, w, x, z never occurs in indigenous words. The phonemic interpretation of letters in loanwords therefore depends on the donating language.

Text sample

In older orthography:

Rakkeren vred Anders Graas Hest om paa Ryggen og begyndte at aabne den. Blodet laa i en stor brun Pøl, der smeltede sig ned i Sneen, den blegrøde Fraade frøs snart til Is. For hvert Snit af Kniven vældede en Farve ud af den dampende Hestekrop, Kødet spillede i dejlige blaa og røde Farver. Og se Trævlerne blev ved at røre sig, fare sammen og skælve mod Frostluften, de overskaarne Muskler krympede sig som Orme i den svirpende Ild. Det lange Luftrør kom for en Dag, Kindtænderne laa synlige som fire Linjer mystiske Bogstaver. Der kom en fin lyserød Hinde frem, den var mønstret med mangfoldige blaa Aarer som et flodrigt Land set højt oppe fra. Da Brystet blev aabnet, var der ligesom en Hule; store hvidblaa Hinder hang ned, brunt og sort Blod kom ud af Smaahuller i de aarede Vægge, det gule Fedt stod fra Loft til Gulv i langelige og drivende Klaser. Leveren var mere brun end alt andet brunt i Verden, Milten kom tilsyne blaa og skimlet som Natten og Mælkevejen Og der var mange flere skære Farver, blaa og grønne Indvolde, teglstenrøde og okkergule Dele. Alle Østerlands frodige, raa Farver; gult som Ægyptens Sand, turkisblaat som Himlen over Evfrat og Tigris; alle Orientens og Indiens ublu Farver blomstrede ud midt i Sneen under Rakkerens skidne Kniv.

Johannes V. Jensen, Kongens Fald, 1900–01

Modern orthography (relatively few changes: mainly from aa to å, and the spelling of nouns with the initial letter in lower-case):

Rakkeren vred Anders Grås hest om på ryggen og begyndte at åbne den. Blodet lå i en stor brun pøl, der smeltede sig ned i sneen, den blegrøde fråde frøs snart til is. For hvert snit af kniven vældede en farve ud af den dampende hestekrop, kødet spillede i dejlige blå og røde farver. Og se, trævlerne blev ved at røre sig, fare sammen og skælve mod frostluften, de overskårne muskler krympede sig som orme i den svirpende ild. Det lange luftrør kom for en dag, kindtænderne lå synlige som fire linjer mystiske bogstaver. Der kom en fin lyserød hinde frem, den var mønstret med mangfoldige blå årer som et flodrigt land set højt oppefra. Da brystet blev åbnet, var der ligesom en hule; store hvidblå hinder hang ned, brunt og sort blod kom ud af småhuller i de årede vægge, det gule fedt stod fra loft til gulv i langelige og drivende klaser. Leveren var mere brun end alt andet brunt i verden, milten kom tilsyne blå og skimlet som natten og mælkevejen, og der var mange flere skære farver, blå og grønne indvolde, teglstenrøde og okkergule dele. Alle Østerlands frodige, rå farver; gult som Ægyptens sand, turkisblåt som himlen over Eufrat og Tigris; alle Orientens og Indiens ublu farver blomstrede ud midt i sneen under rakkerens skidne kniv.

Modern Danish pronunciation[9]:

[ˈʁɑɡ̊ɐɐn ˈʋʁæð̪ˀ ɑnɐs ˈɡ̊ʁɔːˀs ˈhɛsd̥ ˈʌm pʰɔ ˈʁœɡ̊ŋ̩ ʌ b̥ˈɡ̊ønˀd̥ʌ ʌ ˈɔːb̥nə d̥n̩. ˈb̥loð̪ˀð̪̩ ˈlɔːˀ i n̩ ˈsd̥oɐ̯ˀ ˈb̥roːˀn ˈpʰøːˀl d̥ɑ ˈsm̥ɛld̥əð̪̩ sɑ ˈneð̪ˀ i ˈsneːˀn̩, d̥ɛm ˈb̥lɑɪ̯ˌʁœːð̪̩ ˈfʁɔːð̪̩ fʁœs ˈsnɑːˀd̥ tˢe ˈiːˀs. fʌ ʋɛɐ̯d̥ ˈsnid̥ æ ˈkʰniʊ̯ˀn̩ ˈʋɛləð̪̩ n̩ ˈfɑːʊ ˈuð̪ˀ æ d̥n̩ ˈd̥ɑmb̥n̩nə ˈhɛsd̥əˌkʰʁʌb̥, ˈkʰøð̪ˀð̪̩ ˈsb̥eləð̪̩ i ˈd̥ɑɪ̯lii ˈb̥lɔːˀ ʌ ˈʁœːð̪̩ ˈfɑːʊ̯ʌ. ʌ ˈseːˀ ˈtˢʁɑʊ̯lʌnə b̥le ˈʋeð̪ ʌ ˈʁœːɐ sɑ, fɑːɑ ˈsɑmˀm̩ ʌ ˈsɡ̊ɛlʋə moð̪ ˈfʁʌsd̥ˌlɔfd̥n̩, d̥i ˈʌʊ̯ɐˌsɡ̊ɒːˀnə ˈmusɡ̊lɐ ˈkʰʁœmb̥əð̪̩ sɑ sʌm ˈoɐ̯mə i d̥n̩ ˈsʋ̥iɐ̯b̥n̩nə ˈilˀ. d̥e ˈlɑŋŋ̩ ˈlɔfd̥ˌʁœɐ̯ˀ kʰʌm fʌ n̩ ˈd̥æːˀ, ˈkʰenˌtˢɛnˀɐnə lɔ ˈsyːnlii sʌm ˈfiːɐ ˈlinjɐ ˈmysd̥isɡ̊ə ˈb̥ɔʊ̯ˌsd̥æʊ̯ˀɐ. d̥ɑ ˈkʰʌmˀ ɱ̩ ˈfiːˀn ˈlysəˌʁœð̪ˀ ˈhenn̩ ˈfʁɑmˀ, d̥ɛɱ ʋɑ ˈmønsd̥ʁɐð̪ mɛ mɑŋˈfʌlˀd̥ii ˈb̥lɔːˀ ˈɒːɒ sʌm ed̥ ˈfloð̪ˌʁiɡ̊d̥ ˈlænˀ ˈseːˀd̥ ˈhʌɪ̯ˀd̥ ˈʌb̥ə ˈfʁɑːˀ. d̥æ ˈb̥ʁœsd̥əð̪ b̥le ˈɔːb̥nəð̪, ˈʋɑ d̥ɑ ˈlisɐm m̩ ˈhuːlə. ˈsd̥oːɐ ˈʋið̪ˌb̥lɔːˀ ˈhenɐ hɑŋ ˈneð̪ˀ, ˈb̥ʁoːˀnd̥ ʌ ˈsoɐ̯d̥ ˈb̥loð̪ˀ kʰʌm ˈuð̪ˀ æ ˈsmʌˌhɔlɐ i d̥i ˈɒːɒð̪̩ ˈʋɛːɡ̊ə, d̥e ˈɡ̊uːlə ˈfed̥ ˈsd̥oð̪ˀ fʁɑ ˈlʌfd̥ tˢe ˈɡ̊ɔl i ˈlɑŋŋ̩lii ʌ ˈd̥ʁiːʊnə ˈkʰlæːsɐ. ˈleʊ̯ˀɐɐn ʋɑ ˈmeːɐ ˈb̥ʁoːˀn ɛn ˈælˀd̥ ˈænð̪̩ ˈb̥ʁoːˀnd̥ i ˈʋaɐ̯d̥n̩, ˈmilˀd̥n̩ kʰʌm tˢe ˈsyːnə ˈb̥lɔːˀ ʌ ˈsɡ̊emləð̪ sʌm ˈnæd̥n̩ ʌ ˈmɛlɡ̊əˌʋɑɪ̯ˀn̩. ʌ d̥ɑ ʋɑ ˈmɑŋŋ̩ ˈfleːɐ ˈsɡ̊ɛːɐ ˈfɑːʊ̯ɐ, ˈb̥lɔːˀ ʌ ˈɡ̊ʁœnn̩ ˈeɱˌʋʌlə, ˈtˢɑɪ̯lsd̥ensˌʁœːð̪̩ ʌ ˈʌɡ̊ɑˌɡ̊uːlə ˈd̥eːlə. ˈæll̩ ˈøsd̥ɐˌlænˀs ˈfʁoːð̪ii, ˈʁɔːˀ ˈfɑːʊ̯ɐ. ˈɡ̊uːˀld̥ sʌm eˈɡ̊yb̥d̥n̩s ˈsænˀ, tˢyɐ̯ˈkʰiːˀsˌb̥lʌd̥ sʌm ˈhemln̩ ʌʊ̯ɐ ˈœʊ̯fʁɑd̥ ʌ ˈtˢiːɡ̊ʁis. ˈælə ʌɪˈjɛnˀd̥n̩s ʌ ˈenˀd̥jəns ˈuˌb̥luːˀ ˈfɑːʊ̯ɐ ˈb̥lʌmsd̥ʁɐð̪̩ ˈuð̪ˀ med̥ i ˈsneːˀn̩ ɔnɑ ˈʁɑɡ̊ɐɐns ˈsɡ̊ið̪nə ˈkʰniʊ̯ˀ]

English translation:

The butcher turned the horse of Anders Grey on its back and started to open it. The blood lay in a big brown puddle that melted down in the snow, the pink foam soon froze to ice. At every cut of the knife, a colour gushed from the steaming body of the horse, the flesh sparkled in lovely blue and red colours. And look, the shreds kept moving, started and quaked in the frosty air, the cut muscles shrank like worms in the flicking fire. The long windpipe appeared, the molars were visible like four lines of mysterious letters. A fine pink membrane showed, it was figured with various blue veins like a rivery country seen from high above. When the breast was opened, it was like a cave; big white-blue membranes hang down, brown and black blood came out of small holes in the veined walls, the yellow fat extended from the ceiling to the floor in longish and wringing bunches. The liver was more brown than any brown thing in the world. The spleen came forth blue and mouldy like the night and the Milky Way. And there were many more bright colours, blue and green entrails, tile-red and ochre-yellow parts. All the luxuriant, raw colours of the East, yellow like the sand and Egypt, turquoise-blue like the heaven over Euphrates and Tigris; all the impudent colours of the Orient and India blossomed right out in the snow under the filthy knife of the butcher.


  1. ^ Grønnum (2005:300–329)
  2. ^ Grønnum (2005:305–306)
  3. ^ Grønnum (2005:307–310)
  4. ^ Grønnum (2005:303–305)
  5. ^ Grønnum (2005:316–318)
  6. ^ Basbøll (2005:52)
  7. ^ Grønnum (2005:287–288)
  8. ^ Michael Ejstrup and Gert Foget Hansen, 2004
  9. ^ The phonetic transcription follows the pronunciation of Modern Standard Copenhagen Danish as it is spoken by the younger generation (< 40 y). The author of the text sample, Johannes V. Jensen, spoke a more archaic dialect with a Jutlandic substratum.


  • Basbøll, Hans. (1985). Stød in modern Danish. Folia Linguistica, 19, 1-50.
  • Basbøll, Hans (2005), The Phonology of Danish, ISBN 0-19-824268-9 
  • Brink, Lars & Lund, Jørn. (1975) Dansk rigsmål 1–2 (Gyldendal, København)
  • Brink, L. & J. Lund. (1974) Udtaleforskelle i Danmark. (Gjellerup, København)
  • Brink, Lars. (1991) Den store danske udtaleordbog (Munksgaard, København) ISBN-13 978-87-16-06649-7
  • Garlén, Claes. (1988) Svenskans fonologi ISBN 91-44-28151-X.
  • Grønnum, Nina. (1992). The groundworks of Danish intonation. (Museum Tuscalanum Press, Copenhagen)
  • Grønnum, Nina. (1996). Danish vowels: Scratching the recent surface in a phonological experiment. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia, 28, 5-63.
  • Grønnum, Nina. (1998b). Illustrations of the IPA: Danish. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 28 (1 & 2), 99-105.
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk, 3rd edition, Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, ISBN 87-500-3865-6 
  • Grønnum, Nina. (2007) Rødgrød med fløde – En lille bog om dansk fonetik (Akademisk Forlag, København) ISBN-13 978-87-500-3918-1
  • Hansen, Peter Molbæk. (1990) Dansk udtale (Gyldendal, København) ISBN 9788702058956
  • Heger, Steffen. (2003) Sprog & lyd: Elementær dansk fonetik ISBN 87-500-3089-2

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