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Lesson Transcript

INTRODUCTION
Anna: Hello everyone! My name is Anna!
Becky: And I’m Becky! Welcome back to DanishClass101.com. This is Pronunciation, lesson 4: Regional Accents in Denmark. How’s it going, listeners? Are you getting the hang of Danish pronunciation? We hope so!

Lesson focus

Anna: This time we’re going to go over some regional variations in pronunciation.
Becky: Up until now, you’ve learned that Danish has a set number of consonants and vowels - 20 consonants, 9 vowels, and quite a few compound consonants and vowels.
Anna: Right. But we also want to tell our listeners that depending on where you go in Denmark, people may say things differently.
Becky: So, how are we going to cover this?
Anna: Well, we’re going to focus on three regions: The Danish main islands, Jutland, and the island of Bornholm.
Becky: All dialects are usually named after each region when in broader terms, or the representative city in a given area. Anna: The three main dialects are Insular Danish, Jutlandic, and Bornholmian, or Eastern Danish.
Becky: Because of a very homogenous national speech norm, Danish only has one regional speech norm which is Standard Danish. This is based on the written language, which was in turn based on dialects spoken in and around the capital.
Anna: Places where you can hear standard Danish spoken include Aarhus and Ribe.
Becky: In rural areas, distinct dialects still exist, but in general, most people there speak a regionalized form of Standard Danish. Switching between this and a distinct dialect is very common in those areas. Ok, now let’s talk about the differences in the sound system and grammar.
Anna: Here's a basic one: The word for "I" can actually change. This word, which is "Jeg" in standard Danish can often become "ja" when pronounced in Jutlandic. There is also a tendency to pronounce "or" in words as ɒː instead of oɐ̯ in Standard Danish. Northern Jutlandic dialects have voiceless variants of "v" and "j" when combined with "h" at the beginning of a word and becomes "hv" or "hj."
Becky: Oh, interesting. It’s not as confusing as I thought it would be.
Anna: Right?! There is confusion, though, between several vowel phonemes, in general, because the contemporary Danish language is experiencing a merger of more of these.
Becky: Vowel allophones and diphthongs are also undergoing developments, especially among younger Jutlandic Danish speakers. New so-called Jutlandic "regiolects," though, are identical to the Standard Danish in many aspects, but differ primarily with a distinct accent. So how about the stød that we just covered in the previous lesson? How does that work in the different dialects?
Anna: The stød is absent in the most southern Danish dialect because of the greater influence of Low German in that area. That’s why it can sometimes be difficult to understand what is being said if someone, especially in a southern rural area, does not switch to regionalized Standard Danish.
Becky: Even for a Danish native speaker?
Anna: Yes!
Becky: Interesting... But not comforting to hear at all!
Anna: Well, just to add another level of complexity, Jutlandic dialects, in general, tend to skip the "e" pronounced like ə which is often found in unstressed syllables.
Becky: This means that the presence of the stød and vowel length become very significant when distinguishing words. Bornholmian, or Eastern Danish, however, has many phonetical features in common with Swedish, because of its geographical position. But vocabulary-wise it is Danish. So it’s a little challenging for foreigners learning Danish.
Anna: It sure is. But don’t worry, because people all over the country are very good at imitating Standard Danish. They can understand you and make you understand them if you happen to speak Danish with a different accent or dialect.
Becky: Phew, I feel better now. But what about grammar?
Anna: Well, as we’ve learned in a previous lesson, in Standard Danish, nouns can only fall into two grammatical genders: common and neuter. Yet, some dialects, like Bornholmian or Eastern Danish, still often have masculine, feminine, and neuter, just like German. And in dialects spoken mainly in the western part of Jutland, the definite article even goes in front of the noun.
Becky: That must sound... Kind of odd…
Anna: It does, but that’s just one of the charms of the western Jutlandic dialect. Another one is instead of having two articles depending on which gender the noun has, the definite article put in front of words is always "æ." So "the boy" which in standard Danish would be drengen becomes æ dreng.
Becky: So, if I want to say "the house," it would be "æ hus" in western Jutland?
Anna: Ha ha, exactly! Very nice! Additionally, some dialects are only with one gender and even lack the definite article completely. Another Jutlandic tendency is not using the reflexive pronoun "sin," meaning "his" or "her," when referring to the subject of a sentence. Instead, "hans" which means "his," but as in someone else’s something, and "hendes" which means "her’s," but also as in someone else’s something, are more frequently used.
Becky: So they do this even though it’s actually grammatically incorrect?
Anna: Yes, but not everyone does this, of course. And it’s not as exclusive to Jutland as it might sound. People all over the country tend to do this every now and then.
Becky: I can totally tell that you are from Jutland right now!
Anna: (laughs) yeah I guess that’s quite obvious by now. But not only do many Danes use "hans" and "hendes" instead of "sin," they also often don’t distinguish between transitive and intransitive forms of certain verbs.
Becky: But that can often be difficult to master in any language.
Anna: That’s right. And Danish is no exception.
Becky: All right, well that’s all for this lesson.
Anna: Keep practicing and listen over and over again if you have to!

Outro

Becky: And recap what you’ve learned with the lesson notes! Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Anna: Vi ses!

5 Comments

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DanishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! are you interested in learning a specific Danish regional accent?

DanishClass101.com Verified
Monday at 07:50 PM
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Hi Alan.


Yes the accent of Bornhold is pretty cool. You will get there for sure. Just keep it up.


Linda

Team DanishClass101.com

Alan
Wednesday at 01:51 AM
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I'm hoping to learn bornholmsk eventually, but regular old Danish is challenging enough for now!

Team DanishClass101.com
Tuesday at 05:32 AM
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Hi Erica,


Thank you for commenting.


Glad to hear you found this lesson to be a relief from the previous ones.

It is actually funny that you mentioned the show "Dicte," because after the first episode it was criticized for not being true to the regional accent (most of the actors speak with a Zealand accent). Now, I haven't watched it myself, but I am glad to hear though, that you are able to hear the differences between Danish regional accents.


You should check out the show "Badehotellet" if you haven't already. It takes place on the west coast of Jutland and many of the actors had to learn speaking with a regional accent very different from their own. The show is quite different from "Rita" and "Dicte," but it is a great demonstration of different Danish accents.


If you have any questions, please let us know.


Mange tak!


Amalie

Team DanishClass101.com

Erica
Monday at 01:38 AM
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This was a really interesting lesson, thank you! (It was also a relief from the relentless pace of the previous lessons in this series). I've really noticed the difference in accents watching Danish TV shows. While I understand Rita quite well, when I watch the show Dicte, which is set in Aarhus, it's almost impossible for me to pick out words. I enjoyed getting more information about how these regional dialects work.