Local dialects not dying out in Denmark

The commonly held belief that Danish dialects are dying out has been refuted by new university research.

Researcher Michael Ejstrup of the University of Southern Denmark claims in his PhD study that there is still a definite language barrier between Eastern and Western Danes who continue to struggle to understand each other, the Copenhagen Post reports.

Far from vanishing, Ejstrup’s research suggests that Danish dialects are thriving. Ejstrup’s doctorate study has focused primarily on vowel sounds and how their pronunciation revealed their geographical origin. The investigation consisted of recordings of speech patterns from 39 people from such linguistically diverse areas as Naestved in southern Zealand, Nyborg on Funen, Sondeberg in southern Jutland, Skjern in west Jutland, Ronne on Bornholm and also Copenhagen.

The candidates who were interviewed had all lived their entire lives at the one location and were all aged between twenty and forty-five years of age. The analysis revealed that there were far more vowel sounds used than the nine alphabetic vowels comprised in the Danish language. Ejstrup discovered that while Copenhageners utilised around 42 distinctive vowel sounds, their counterparts from western Jutland used well over 50.

Ejstrup said popular claims that Danish dialects were dying out were simply untrue. He theorised that the misconception stemmed from modern children not speaking the same way as their grandparents. Although regional dialects may not be inherited, they still retain their influence, according to the research.
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