Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


The orthography of Danish was changed today

The orthography of the Danish language is regulated by Dansk Sprognævn through their official orthographical dictionary, “Retskrivningsordbogen”.

Any revisions take effect as soon as a new edition is published, so if you’re keen to spell correctly, you have to learn the changes immediately.

The changes introduced today include the following:

  1. Abolishing alternative forms that correspond to pronunciations that aren’t used any more:
    • Baskerlandet or Baskien > Baskerlandet
    • federal or føderal > føderal
    • langust or languster > languster
    • taifun or tyfon > tyfon
    • øjelåg or øjenlåg > øjenlåg
    • roastbeef or rostbøf > roastbeef
    • billiondel or billiontedel > billiontedel
  2. Abolishing simplified spellings of loanwords that haven’t caught on:
    • croquis or kroki > croquis
    • håndmikser > håndmikser or håndmixer
    • jogurt or yoghurt > yoghurt
    • krep or crepe > crepe
    • majonæse or mayonnaise > mayonnaise
  3. Introducing an alternative ending -ie for some words ending in -ium:
    • kriterium > kriterie or kriterium
    • ministerium > ministerie or ministerium
    • sanatorium > sanatorie or sanatorium
  4. Abolishing simplified spellings of native words that haven’t caught on (I’m personally very unhappy about these changes!):
    • elleve or elve > elleve
    • tredive or tredve > tredive
    • drøbel or drøvel > drøbel
  5. Bizarrely, merging two words that in my idiolect have different pronunciations and different meanings:
    • sauce > sauce or sovs
    • sovs > sauce or sovs
  6. Messing about with the hyphens in some compounds:
    • e-mail-adresse > e-mailadresse
    • stand-up-comedy > standupcomedy
    • play-off-kamp > playoffkamp
    • roll-on > rollon or roll-on
    • built-up-tag > builtuptag
    • tagselvbord > tag selv-bord
    • T-bone-steak > T-bonesteak
    • a-våben-fri > a-våbenfri
    • DAMP-barn > DAMP-barn or damp-barn or dampbarn
  7. Introducing some optional instances of -t in some adverbs (which actually comes as a surprise to me — I thought -t was already allowed here):
    • gladelig > gladelig or gladeligt
    • klogelig > klogelig or klogeligt
    • unægtelig > unægtelig or unægteligt
  8. Making it possible to drop the space in some compound prepositions when followed by a complement. The space was never allowed when the prepositions occurred without a complement (e.g., han fulgte bag efter/bagefter manden, but han fulgte bagefter (not *bag efter):
    • bag efter > bag efter or bagefter
    • bag i > bag i or bagi
    • inden for > inden for or indenfor
    • neden under > neden under or nedenunder
    • oven på > oven på or ovenpå
    • ud over > ud over or udover
    • frem for > frem for or fremfor

    Interestingly, many compound prepositions still don’t allow this freedom. For instance, in the following four sentences it is not allowed to write *udaf, *optil, *udefra and *opad:

    • De har altid haft svært ved at komme ud ad døren i ordentlig tid.
    • Plæneklipperen kører op til 4 timer på en opladning.
    • Ude fra gaden lød der et stort brag.
    • Vejen gik stejlt op ad bakke.

    I’m pretty happy about some of the changes, whereas some of the others are annoying me. However, I need to learn the new rules so that I can spell Danish correctly if I need to, even if I might defy the rules on my blog.

    (PS: Don’t ask me about the photo — it was the only result I got when I searched for Retskrivningsordbogen on Flickr.)

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