So you’ve decided to take the plunge and learn Danish. You’re reading your Danish grammar book and you come across words like “måske” and “hoved”. You have no idea how to pronounce them, but as time goes on you eventually encounter these words in the wild and you’re surprised that they’re pronounced the way they are. It’s completely unexpected. Måske is pronounced “mos-kee”, and hoved is pronounced “huovwlwlv”.

Alright, maybe that last one isn’t quite accurate, but one day you’re going to find yourself halfway into a Danish sentence, discover that the sentence ends in hoved, and realise that the conversation can go two ways: feign an epileptic seizure before you get to the end, or power through and go with “huovwlwlv”. Not that it will matter much: your interlocutor won’t notice any difference.

The wise thing would’ve been to go to Norway or Sweden. At least you would’ve been surrounded by majestic mountains and consistent consonants & vowels. But it’s too late for that now. You have no choice but to face the capricious music of Danish pronunciation. 

It is a cold comfort to know that English pronunciation is a lot worse, and English grammar more so. Danish grammar is pleasantly straightforward. For example, if you’d had to learn German or Spanish, you’d have been tortured by the gazillions of verb forms, whereas Danish verbs have only one form. In addition to that, Danish and English words have the same roots, so you’ll have no problem picking up the vocabulary. 

With consistent, daily study, most people become relatively fluent in just about a year and a half, but the learning never really stops. All it requires is some dedication, and some use of your huovwlwlv.

Speakdanish.dk is an interactive online Danish course with audio, designed specifically to help you fast-track your Danish pronunciation. Thousands of learners have benefited from it since 2003. Some of them might even be able to say hoved by now.

You can hear what hoved sounds like here