Danish Language Blog

Spelling your name in Danish Posted by on Jul 29, 2017 in Vocabulary

(No-copyright illustration from PixaBay.)

When you check in at a hostel or meet a new friend, you’re sometimes asked to spell your navn [naoon] (name). Fortunately, the Danish alfabet [alfaBEHT] is quite similar to the English one you already know. In case you forgot bogstaverne (the letters), here’s a crash course.

The first pitfall: i and e. (I’ve heard several English-speakers mixing those two, so watch out!) In Danish, i is called [ee] – as in is [ees] (ice-cream). The name of the Danish e is a little bit more open – a bit closer to the middle sound of zen – as in en [ehn] (one).

Yes! You can now actually name all those letters that rhyme with Wii in English. You just have to sligthly open up the final e sound so it sounds like a Danish e. Here we go: ”Bii”, ”Cii”, ”Dii” become b [beh], c [ceh], d [deh]. So, instead of watching ”TiiVii”, you watch ”teh-veh”. 🙂

Wait, g is hard as in spaGHEtti, so no more going around saying ”gee” when spelling your name to Danes! And z, which is soft as a whisper, is called [set]. J’s name could have been a StarWars planet: Yoth.

BTW, W is considered a double V in Danish, not a ”double U”! (Also, the Danish u isn’t called ”yu” as in English – drop the ”y-” part and you’re much closer…)

A last point: K and h have nice rhyming names – [kaw] and [haw] (as in hawk). Now, let’s look at all the letters:

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

ah, beh, ceh, deh, eh, ef, gheh, haw, ee, yoth, kaw, el, em, en, oh, peh, kooh, er, ess, teh, oo, veh, dobbelt-veh, eks, ”ü”, set, ”æ”, ”ø”, aw


Can you spell your first name now? 🙂

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.