Danes mourn deletion of 3,581 words from their dictionary

Should old words be permanently struck from the record?

According to the Danish Language Board, some 3,581 words were removed from the Danish Spelling Dictionary between 1986 and 2012.

The media industry magazine Journalisten published a list of the deleted words after Søren Espersen from Dansk Folkeparti raised concerns with the culture minister, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen.

While it’s common practice for the Danish Language Board to remove words that it deems have fallen out of popular use, Espersen – himself a trained journalist – is reportedly frustrated that quite so many Danish words have been removed.

“I’m just wondering why so many Danish words should be removed, and why the Danish Language Board should decide that,” said Espersen.

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Some examples include: ‘accoucheur’, which has been replaced with the more common ‘obstetrician’; ‘sybaristic’ meaning ‘lavish’; ‘pudsenmager’ meaning  ‘comedian’; and ‘skændegæst’ meaning ‘quarrelsome guest’.

For Espersen, it’s a cultural and historical loss. “It’s not that there’s a lack of space because the dictionary has been digitised,” he argues.

Ritzau journalist and self-proclaimed ‘language nerd’ Ida Tophøj Buur agrees: “The extent of the deletions is a shame. The language will lose some nuance and in the end it’ll make it more difficult for young Danes to read older texts.”

You can see the full list of deleted words here.