Danish is a North Germanic language with around 5.5 million speakers mainly in Denmark, but also in Greenland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, the UAE and the USA. Danish was the official language of Norway until about 1830 and of Iceland until 1944. Danish is now the first foreign language learnt in Iceland.
During the Middle Ages, Danish was heavily influenced by Low German dialects, while during the 17th century Danish absorbed many French loanwords and from the 19th century onwards, many English words have been taken into Danish.
The first written work of Danish literature was Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes) written in Latin in about 1200 by Saxo Grammaticus. This recounts the history of Denmark up to 1186 and includes Danish versions (in a somewhat Christianized form) of Scandinavian myths and sagas, including the earliest version of the Hamlet story.
Danish began to be used a literary languge during the 16th century. In 1514 Christian Pedersen published a Danish version of Gesta Danorum, which was highly influential on subsequent Danish literature. Pedersen also published the first Danish translation of the New Testament in 1531.
The letters C, Q, W, X and Z are only used in foreign loanwords. Before 1948, the sound written å was written aa, which can still be seen in some place names, such as Aalborg and Aabenraa.