When you write in foreign languages, chances are that you will run into letters and symbols that are not found on your keyboard. Danish is no exception; in fact there are three extra letters in the Danish alphabet. The only other language that uses these letters is Norwegian, Danish’s sister language.
The letters Æ, Ø, Å are located on the right side of a Danish keyboard. This is an example of the layout:
The letters Æ and Ø are switched around on a Norwegian keyboard, in order to confuse non-Scandinavian typists.
One wouldn’t think that three extra characters could wreak havoc on a person’s typing, but it can be a challenge to get used to the finger placement on a Danish keyboard, especially if it is not something you use every day. Personally, I have a Danish keyboard, which I use to work on extensive Danish materials. However, for the occasional use of æ, ø, å I chose to utilize the keyboard shortcuts.
Thankfully Apple has come up with some easy shortcuts, allowing me to add a random æ, ø or å into any sentence without further delaying my work.
The shortcuts on a Mac device are as follows:
ø: hold down the “option” key and o
æ: hold down the “option” key and ‘
å: hold down the “option” key and a
To capitalize any of the letters hold down “shift” simultaneously.
Windows 95 also has shortcuts programmed, although they are not as intuitive as the ones for the Mac users.
Alt + 134 = å
Alt + 143 = Å
Alt + 145 = æ
Alt + 146 = Æ
Alt + 0248 = ø
Alt + 0216 = Ø
The other versions of Windows have International Keyboards you can download and toggle between, or they suggest you purchase a Danish keyboard sticker. I feel rather blessed that I have my Danish keyboard and otherwise work on Apple devices.
In a pinch, I have also been known to replace æ, ø and å with the two letters they each replaced when they were adopted into the Danish alphabet. Æ = ae, Ø = oe and Å = aa, although it is not recommended for Danish business literature, it can be read and understood by all Danes, so in personal or casual correspondence it can be used on occasion.
Knowing the origin of the letters also helps when searching for Danish websites, as the two-letter replacements often times work in the URL (website address).
The Danish language has become easily accessible to the global community by allowing the two letter replacements in many instances. However, I hope they maintain the three special letters in their alphabet, as they are as Danish as the “Ugly Duckling” and Tivoli amusement park.