Researchers in the Puzzle of Danish group at Cornell and Aarhus University find that the uniquely peculiar way that Danes speak seems to make it difficult for Danish children to learn their native language, challenging some central tenets of the science of language. In an op-ed in The Conversation, Morten Christiansen, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Psychology, explains why Danish is so complicated.
“First, with about 40 different vowel sounds – compared to between 13 and 15 vowels in English depending on dialect – Danish has one of the largest vowel inventories in the world,” Christiansen and co-author Fabio Trecca, assistant professor of cognitive science of language at Aarhus University, write in the piece. “On top of that, Danes often turn consonants into vowel-like sounds when they speak. And finally, Danes also like to “swallow” the ends of words and omit, on average, about a quarter of all syllables."