Danish is the national language of Denmark, and one of two official languages of the Faroes (alongside Faroese). Until 2009, it had also been one of two official languages of Greenland (alongside Greenlandic). Danish is widely spoken in Greenland, and an unknown portion of the native Greenlandic population has Danish as their first language. Danish was an official language in Iceland until 1944 but is today still widely used and is a mandatory subject in school. In addition, there is a small community of Danish speakers in Southern Schleswig, the portion of Germany bordering Denmark, where it is an officially recognized regional language, just as German is north of the border. Furthermore, Danish is one of the official languages of the European Union and one of the working languages of the Nordic Council. Under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries speaking Danish have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable for any interpretation or translation costs.

The more widespread of the two Norwegian languages, Bokmål, is a daughter language of Danish. Until 1814, Danish was the official language of Norway. Bokmål is based on Danish unlike the other Norwegian language, Nynorsk, which is based on the Norwegian dialects, with Old Norwegian as an important reference point. From a linguistic point of view, Bokmål and Danish are the same language.

There is no law stipulating an official language for Denmark, making Danish the de facto language only. The Code of Civil Procedure does, however, lay down Danish as the language of the courts. Since 1997 public authorities have been obliged to observe the official spelling by way of the Orthography Law.


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