Dutch, Danish, same difference February 16, 2007Posted by globalizer in Danish, Denmark, Language.
Later update, October 11, 2009:
I just found one new, potential factor contributing to the confusion. I see that somebody found this blog post by searching for “are windmills dutch or danish”. And since the Dutch are famous for their historical windmills, while a Danish company is now the world’s number one maker of wind turbines, and Denmark today generates about 20% of its electricity with wind turbines, I can see how that could be a cause for some confusion. Given that a lot of people are confused to begin with.
Update, October 19, 2007:
As a public service announcement to the many people who seem to find this post after doing searches like “Is Dutch and Danish the same language” and “difference between Dutch and Danish”:
No, those are two completely separate and different languages.
Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands (or Holland), while Danish is spoken in Denmark. They are both Germanic languages, and they are both spoken in small, flat countries located in the Northwestern part of Europe – but they are still different. And while speakers of the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are usually able to understand each other (with good will exhibited by both speaker and listener), Danish and Dutch are not closely enough related for that to be the case for those two languages. Single words may resemble each other, etc., but that’s about it.
Just yesterday I was reminded once again how difficult people from the US find it to distinguish between Dutch and Danish. As I joined a conference call, a Danish colleague and I were initially the only ones on, so we conversed happily in Danish until a US colleague joined, at which point I said something like “sorry for babbling in Danish”. To which he responded, as expected: “Oh, that’s the language spoken in the Netherlands, right?”
I can’t count the number of times something like this has happened to me – or the other way around, of course, having people think Dutch is spoken in Denmark. A few years ago when I was on an extended translation verification test along with testers from about 15 other countries, our daily meetings with the development team became the source of a running bet between the Dutch tester and me about how many times his and my defects would be confused.
I have never quite understood the reason for this almost total inability to distinguish between the two language names; after all, the two words are not that similar, and the country names are totally different.
But there definitely seems to be some kind of blind spot with respect to the “D-word” in this context.