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The Danish Alphabet
The latin alphabet was introduced to Scandinavia around 1100 AD. Prior to the introduction of the latin alphabet the Danes used several different runic alphabets over the years. The use of runic writing persisted in very limited amounts well into the 18th century. In Sweden some runic writing persisted into the 20th century. Runic writing is the writing which you find on Viking artifacts.
The modern Danish alphabet has 29 letters compared with 26 in the English alphabet. The first 26 letters of the Danish alphabet are exactly the same as in English, however Danish has three extra letters at the end of the alphabet. The three extra letters at the end are æ ø å. Knowing the order can be helpful for anyone who is trying to find a town or street name in the index section of a map. It can also be helpful when you are trying to translate a word with the help of a Danish-English dictionary. So, the Danish alphabet is as follows: 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. The Danish alphabet is the same as the Norwegian alphabet.
It is easy to see where the letter 'æ' comes from. It is the simple joining of the letters 'a' and 'e', which produces a particular sound in the Danish language. It is a difficult sound to replicate in the English language. It sounds like a shortened version of the 'a' sound in the word 'bay'. The letter 'ø' is the joining together of the letters 'o' and 'e'. This sound is even more difficult to replicate in the English language. It sounds something like the letter 'u' in French.
The letter 'å' was only introduced into the Danish language in 1948. It was introduced to replace the common appearance of 'aa', which also produces a very distinct sound in Danish. It sounds like a very shortened version of the 'o' sound in the word 'go'. Since the letter 'å' has only been introduced in relatively recent it is quite common to see local place names and individuals who use the old 'aa' method of spelling. Yet the pronounciation is identical. Examples of this are the cities of Aalborg and Aabenraa versus the cities of Århus and Ålebæk. The 'aa' and the 'å' are both pronounced the same, and you will actually sometimes see them spelled the opposite way.
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