Jutlandic dialect

Native to Denmark
Region Jutland (Denmark) and in the northern parts of Southern Schleswig (Germany).[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jut
Glottolog juti1236[3]

Jutlandic or Jutish (Danish: jysk; pronounced [ˈjysɡ̊]) is the western dialect of Danish, spoken on the peninsula of Jutland.

Generally, the eastern dialects are the closest to Standard Danish, while the southern dialect (Sønderjysk) is the one that differs the most from the others, therefore it is sometimes described as a distinct dialect, thus Jutlandic is by that definition actually two different dialects: general Jutlandic (nørrejysk; further divided into western and eastern) and Southern Jutlandic (sønderjysk). However, the linguistic variation is considerably more complicated and well over 20 separate minor dialects can be easily found on Jutland. This map shows 9 larger dialectal regions which will be discussed in this article. There are major phonological differences between the dialects, but also very noteworthy morphological, syntactic, and semantic variations.


The different subdialects of Jutlandic differ somewhat from each other, and are generally grouped in three main dialects.

These are the abbreviations seen in the map linked above, which will be used throughout the rest of the article: NJy: Northern Jysk, NVJy: North Western Jysk, NØJy: North Eastern Jysk, MVJy: Mid Western Jysk, MØJy: Mid Eastern Jysk, Sy(d)Jy: Southern Jysk, SønJy: South Jysk, Djurs: Djurs-dialect, Sslesv: South Schleswig






Standard Danish phonology contains nasal, aspirated voiceless and devoiced plosives (labial, alveolar, and velar). Four voiceless fricatives, [f], [s], [ɕ] and [h] are present, as well as approximated voiced fricatives: [ʊ̯], [ð̞], [ɪ̯], and [ɐ̯]. There are also three regular and a lateral approximate, [ʋ], [l], [j] and [ʁ]. Below is a table depicting the consonant inventory of Danish. Phonemes that appear in standard Danish are in black and phonemes which are only seen in the dialects of Jutland (jysk) are in bold. This table only includes phonemes and some allophones.

[4][5] Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Alveopalatal Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m - n - ɲ ŋ - -
Plosive pʰ, b̥ - tˢ, d̥ - - kʰ, ɡ̊ - -
Fricative β f, v s ɕ - x, ɣ - h
Approximate - ʋ; ʊ̯ ð̞ - ç j; ɪ̯ - ʁ; ɐ̯ -
Lat. Appr. - - l - ʎ - - -
Velar Coarticulation ʍ, w - ɫ - - - -

The major phonological process in jysk consonants is lenition. This is the weakening of originally voiceless consonants in either the coda of a syllable or word as well as intervocallically. The weakening causes voicing as well as the fall from a stop to a fricative and finally to a sonorant. The final step of lenition is then complete apocope.[6] This phenomenon can be seen in all its stages in the jysk dialects, although it shows considerably more variability in the alveolars. The bilabials still have the approximant in one dialect, but no null phoneme and the velars have no sonorants, only a voiceless stop and fricative. The stages of the lenition as well as which dialects they occur in can be seen in the table below. Multiple possibilities for the same stage are shown separated by a semicolon. In Maps 4.0 and 4.2 the spread of the pronunciation of [d] and [g] are shown. The ÷ represents the null or zero morpheme in the maps, the -j and -r are [ɪ̯] and [ɐ̯] respectively and q is the devoiced velar stop [ɡ̊] while ch stands for the fricative [χ]. Vends and Læsø are regions usually belonging to the NJy dialectal region whereas Fjolds is the border region between Germany and Denmark, normally considered part of Sønderjysk.

Standard Lenition[1] -v Stop [t] +v Stop [d] + or – v fricative [s, z, ð, θ] Flapping [ɾ] Approximant [ð̞, j, r] zero
Old Danish Standard Danish NVJy, NJy, SydJy MØJy; MVJy, SønJy1 Vends, East SønJy
Jysk Alveolars {t}, [t] {d}, [d̥] [ð̞] - [ɪ̯; ɐ̯] null
Old Danish Standard Danish, MØJy, Fjolde NordJy, MØJy; Midt- and SydJy, North SønJy; SønJy Læsø
Jysk Bilabials {p}, [p] {b}, [b̥] [β; v; f] - [w] -
Old Danish Standard Danish, Northern Jysk, North SønJy SønJy
Jysk Velars {k}, [k] {g}, [ɡ̊] [x] - - -

e.g. In Southern Jutlandic, Scandinavian post-vocalic p, k become [f, x] word-finally, whereas Standard Danish has b, g, e.g. søge 'to seek' [ˈsøːx] = Standard Danish [ˈsøː(ɪ̯)], tabe 'lose' [ˈtʰɑːf] = Standard Danish [ˈtˢæːbə, ˈtˢæːʊ]. In the northern part of Southern Jutland, these sounds are voiced fricatives between vowels, i.e. [v, ɣ]: e.g. søger 'seeks' [ˈsøːɣə] = Standard Danish [ˈsøːɐ], taber 'loses' [ˈtʰɑːvə] = Standard Danish [ˈtˢæːˀbɐ, ˈtˢæʊ̯ˀɐ].


Standard Danish has a large vowel inventory and contrasts length on many vowels. Vowels can also be glottalized where the so-called stød is present and many change their quality depending on whether or not it is preceded or followed by an /r/.

[7] Front Unrounded Front Rounded Central Unrounded Central Rounded Back Unrounded Back Rounded
Close i, i: y, y: - - - u, u:
Near Close ɪ - - ʊ - -
Close Mid e, eː ø, ø: - - - o, o:
Open Mid ɛ, ɛ: œ, œː ə - - ɔ, ɔː
Near Open æ, æ: - ɐ ʌ - -
Open a ɶ, ɶː - - ɑ, ɑː ɒ, ɒː

Jysk exhibits many diphthongs, which are not present in standard Danish. The long stressed mid vowels, /e:/, /ø:/, and /o:/ become /iə/, /yə/, and /uə/ respectively in central Jutland as well as SSlesv, e.g. ben [ˈbiˀən] = Standard Danish [ˈbeːˀn] 'leg', bonde 'farmer' [ˈbuəɲ] = Standard Danish [ˈbɔnə] (< bōndi). SønJy has the same vowel quality for these vowels, but exhibits a tonal distinction, which is present in place of the Danish stød. NJy raises them without diphthonging them to /i:/, /y:/, and /u:/ respectively. In a small area of Mid Western Jutland called Hards the vowels become diphthonged with a glide, much like in English and are pronounced as /ej/, /øj/, and /ow/. In Norther Jutland /i:/, /y:/, and /u:/ are also diphthonged in two syllable words with a glide. NJy always has the glide present (/ij/, /yj/, /uw/) and NVJy tends towards the glide, but it is not present for all speakers. Long a and å have been raised to [ɔː] and [oː] respectively in northern Jutlandic, e.g. sagde 'said' [ˈsɔː] = Standard Danish [ˈsæː(ə)], 'go, walk' [ˈɡoːˀ] = Standard Danish [ˈɡ̊ɔːˀ]. Map 2.2 shows the different possible pronunciations for the standard Danish mid, stressed vowels which is further explained in the following table.

Std. Danish NJy NVJy MVJy MØJy SydJy SønJy SSlesv
/i:/ (2 Sylb) [ij] [i(j)] [i:] [i:] [i:] [i:] [i:]
/y:/ (2 Sylb) [yj] [y(j)] [y:] [y:] [y:] [y:] [y:]
/u:/ (2 Sylb) [uw] [u(w)] [u:] [u:] [u:] [u:] [u:]
/e:/ [i:] [iə] [ej] [iə] [iə] [e:] [iə]
/ø:/ [y:] [yə] [øj] [yə] [yə] [ø:] [yə]
/o:/ [u:] [uə] [ow] [uə] [uə] [o:] [uə]
/æː/ [e:] [œː] [œː] [œː] [œː] [œː] [eœ]
/ɔː/ [o:] [o:] [o:] [o:] [o:] [ɔː] [oɒ]
/ɑː/ [o:] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɒː] [ɒː]

Outside of these diphthongs arising from changes in pronunciation from standard Danish long vowels, there are also the following diphthongs: [ow], [ɔw], [ej], [æj] [ɒw] [iw]/[yw], [ew]/[øw] and [æw]/[œw]. [ow] and [ɔw] are both present in Vends, NVJy and MVJy but only one occurs in Østjysk, SønJy and SydJy. There is a tendency towards [ɔw], but in MØJy [ow] can be found instead. The same sort of alternation is also seen with [ej] and [æj]. In MVJy, NJy and NVJy both diphthongs exist. In MØJy there is an alternation between the two, but each speaker only has one. In SydJy and SønJy only [æj] is found. [ɒw] is present as a diphthong in all of Jutland with the exception of the island of Fanø (off of South western Jutland), but has different pronunciations depending on length of the segments. The remaining diphthongs show a distribution based on rounding. In the majority of Jutland the unrounded diphthong is rounded. In South Eastern Jutland the rounded one is unrounded and only in certain parts of Sønderjylland are both diphthongs preserved. Map 2.7 shows the rounding alternation for the front, close diphthong [iw]/[yw]. An interesting phenomenon in West SønJy and MVJy, NVJy as well as NJy is the so-called klusilspring. The klusilspring can be seen as a modified stød that only occurs on high vowels (/i:/, /y:/, and /u:/). These long vowels are shortened and then followed by a klusil, or plosive, or in some cases a spirant.[8] (See Map 2.1) In Vends (NJy) and west Sønderjysk the three pronunciations become: [itj], [ytj], and [uk] and they have the same pronouciation but followed by a schwa if not in the coda. An area in NVJy designated on the map as Him-V has instead [ikj], [ykj] and [uk] and in MVJy it is similar with the /u:/ also containing a glide [ukw] and in all three cases a schwa is inserted if it is not in the coda of the syllable. The rest of NVJy along the coast has the schwa as well but a fricative instead of a stop, so the sounds are [iɕ], [yɕ], and [uɕ]. In the rest of the jysk dialects the vowel quality is overall the same, with gliding in NVJy (Han-V and Han-Ø) on the map and only unrounded front vowels in Djurs.


As mentioned earlier, the klusilspring is an alternate of the stød that occurs only with high vowels. In the other mainland Scandinavian languages as well as SønJy, there are two different tonemes which distinguish between words that were originally one or two syllables. Tone 1 is a simple rising then falling tone in most dialects and tone 2 is more complex, e.g. hus 'house' [ˈhúːs] = Standard Danish [ˈhuːˀs] ~ huse 'houses' [ˈhùːs] = Standard Danish [ˈhuːsə]. In standard Danish as well as jysk, tone 1 is replaced with a nonsegmental glottalization and tone 2 disappears entirely. Glottalization can only occur on vowels or sonorants and only in one or two-syllable words and is realized in transcription as a [']. However, in two-syllable words the second syllable must be a derivational morpheme as the historical environment of tone 1 was one-syllable words and tone 2 only occurred on two-syllable words. Due to apocope and the morphology, both tones and the stød can now be found on one- and two-syllable words. There can be multiple stød segments per word, if the word is a compound, which separates its phonetically from the tonemes of Swedish, Norwegian and Sønderjysk, which can only occur once over the whole word. However, in contrast to the standard Danish stød, the jysk stød does not usually occur in monosyllabic words with a sonorant + voiceless consonant. Only Djurs and the city dialect of Aarhus have the stød in this environment. As mentioned before, most of north west Jutland does not have a stød after short high vowels, and instead has the klusilspring. The stød is still present on sonorants and mid and low vowels in the proper environment. Western jysk also has a stød on the vowel in originally two-syllable words with a geminate voiceless consonant such as {tt}, {kk}, or {pp} e.g. katte 'cats' [ˈkʰaˀt] = Standard Danish [ˈkʰæd̥ə]; ikke 'not' [ˈeˀ(t)] = Standard Danish [ˈeɡ̊ə].

Other phonological characteristics


The distribution of one, two, and three grammatical genders in Danish dialects. In Zealand the transition from three to two genders has happened fairly recently. West of the red line the definite article goes before the word as in English or German; east of the line it takes the form of a suffix.

One of the hallmarks of the Scandinavian languages is the postclitic definite marker. For example: en mand 'a man', mand-en 'the man'. In standard Danish this postclitic marker is only used when there is no adjective present, but if there is an adjective, a definite article is used instead: den store mand 'the big man'. Further, standard Danish has a two gender system, distinguishing between the neuter (intetkøn, -et) and "other" (fælleskøn, -en) genders. In Jutland, however, very few dialects match the standard in these two aspects. There are dialects with one, two and three genders, as well as dialects lacking the postclitic definite marker entirely.


Originally the Scandinavian languages, like modern German as well as Icelandic, had three genders. These three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter are still present in many dialects, notably most dialects of Norwegian. However, in all standard versions of the mainland Scandinavian languages, there are only two genders (Norwegian has three genders, but in Bokmål – one of two written standards – feminine nouns may be inflected like the masculine nouns, making it possible to use only two genders). The masculine and feminine fell together, taking the feminine article and the neuter stayed separate. Three genders remain in northern Jutland and far in the east, which could potentially be explained through dialect contact with both Norwegian and Swedish dialects which preserve all three genders. The loss of all gender distinction in the west, though, is unique to Jysk.

3 Genders 2 Genders 1 Gender
Region Vends, Djurs East Jutland, SønJy West Jutland
masculine 'a man' i(n) mand
feminine 'a woman' æn kone
common gender æn kone, æn mand æn kone, æn mand, æn hus
neuter 'a house' æt hus æt hus


The definite marker is also not consistent in the jysk dialects. In the west, where only one gender is present, as well as all of SydJy and SønJy the definite marker is a free morpheme that comes before the noun. It is not, however, the same as the free morpheme found in standard Danish when an adjective precedes a noun. It is phonetically realised as [æ].

West and South Jutland East and North Jutland, Standard
masculine 'the man' æ mand manden
neuter 'the house' æ hus huset
feminine 'the woman' æ kone konen
plural 'the men' æ mænd mændene

There are also small areas in Jutland where predicate adjectives as well as adjectives in indefinite noun phrases have gender congruence in the neuter form. In SSlesv, easternmost Djurs and on the island of Samsø, adjectives take a -t ending which patterns with standard Danish: for example, et grønt glas and glasset er grønt. [æt gʁœːnt glas; glas.ət æ gʁœːnt] 'a green glass; the glass is green' In Vends (NJy) there is no congruence on adjectives in indefinite noun phrases, but the -t is still present in predicate adjectives. The variability in the examples also reflects differences between number of genders, postclitic versus enclitic article and apocope. [æ gʁœn' glas; glast æ gʁœnt] (same gloss) In the rest of Jutland, as a result of apocope, the -t disappears completely. [ æt (æn) gʁœn' glas; glas.ə(t) (æ glas) æ gʁœn'] (same gloss)[1]


The presence of a separate free morpheme definite marker in the western Jysk dialects [æ] has come to cause a contrastive semantic meaning difference with the standard Danish dem. Nouns that can be analyzed as mass nouns, as opposed to count nouns can take the [æ] article before an adjective. If the noun is, however, meant to be a count noun it uses the standard Danish plural article dem. An example of this would be dem små kartofler versus æ små kartofler 'the small potatoes'. dem små kartofler refers to the small potatoes in a set, i.e. those 5 small potatoes on the table. æ små kartofler refers instead to a mass noun, meaning potatoes that are generally small. It is like saying "the yellow potatoes" in English. It can either mean yellow potatoes as a whole, a mass noun or the yellow potatoes sitting on the table, as opposed to the red ones.

There is also a tendency to use hans or hendes instead of the "correct" sin when referring to the subject of the sentence. This means there is no longer a distinction between whether the possessive pronoun refers to the subject of the sentence or a third person, however, use of a word like egen/t 'own' can paraphrastically accomplish the same thing.

Standard Danish Han ser sin hund 'He sees his (own) dog' Han ser hans hund 'He sees his (another person's) dog' Hans hund ser ham 'His dog sees him' (ambiguous)
Jysk Han ser hans hund 'He sees his dog' (ambiguous) Han ser hans hund 'He sees his dog' (ambiguous) Hans hund ser ham 'His dog sees him' (ambiguous)

Jutlandic regiolects


Today the old dialects, tied as they were to the rural districts, are yielding to new regional standards based on Standard Danish. Several factors have contributed to this process: The dialects — especially in the northernmost, western and southern regions — are often hard to understand for people originating outside Jutland. The dialects enjoy little prestige both nationally (the population of Zealand like to believe that the Jutlanders are slower not only in speech, but also in thought) and regionally (the dialect is associated with rural life). The Danish cultural, media and business life is centered around Copenhagen, and Jutland has only in recent decades seen substantial economic growth. Through the 20th century dialects were usually suppressed by media, state institutions and schools. In recent decades a more liberal attitude towards dialects has emerged, but since the number of speakers has decreased, and almost all of the remaining dialect speakers master a regional form of Standard Danish as well, dialects are now rather being ignored.


The new Jutlandic "regiolects" are identical to the Copenhagen variety in most aspects and differs from it primarily with a distinct accent. Typical features are:

  1. a higher tendency of apocope of unstressed [ə] (cf. above).
  2. a higher pitch towards the end of a stressed syllable.
  3. a slightly different distribution of stød, e.g. vej 'way' [ˈʋaɪ̯] = Standard Danish [ˈʋaɪ̯ˀ]; hammer 'hammer' [ˈhɑmˀɐ] = Standard Danish [ˈhɑmɐ].
  4. the ending -et (definite article or passive participle) is pronounced [-(ə)d̥] instead of [-ð̩], e.g. hented 'fetched' [ˈhɛnd̥əd̥] = Standard Danish [ˈhɛnd̥ð̩]; meget 'very, much' [ˈmaːɪ̯d̥] = Standard Danish [ˈmaːð̩, ˈmɑːð̩]
  5. postvocalic d is pronounced [ɪ̯] or, before i, [d̥] in certain varieties of the regiolect, e.g. bade 'bath' [ˈb̥æːɪ̯] = Standard Danish ˈb̥æːð̩], stadig 'still' [ˈsd̥æːd̥i] = Standard Danish [ˈsd̥æːði]. This pronunciation is not favoured by the younger speakers.
  6. or is pronounced [ɒː] in words where Standard Danish has [oɐ̯] (in closed syllables), e.g. torn 'thorn' [ˈtˢɒːˀn] = Standard Danish [ˈtˢoɐ̯ˀn]. On the other hand, one also hears hypercorrect pronunciations like tårn 'tower' [ˈtˢoɐ̯ˀn] = Standard Danish [ˈtˢɒːˀn].
  7. the strong verbs have -en in the past participle, not only in adjectival use (as in Standard Danish), but also in the compound perfect, e.g. han har funden = SD han har fundet den. These forms belong to the low register of the Jutlandic regiolects.
  8. a frequent use of hans, hendes 'his, her' instead of the reflexive pronoun sin when referring to the subject of the sentence, e.g. han kyssede hans kone 'he kissed his wife' = Standard Danish han kyssede sin kone (the other sentence would mean that he kissed somebody else's wife).
  9. a lack of distinction between transitive and intransitive forms of certain related verbs like ligge ~ lægge 'lie, lay', e.g. han lagde i sengen 'he lay in the bed' = Standard Danish han lå i sengen (eastern speakers don't distinguish the present and the infinitive of these verbs either).
  10. remnants of a regional vocabulary; in Eastern Jutland these words include træls [ˈtˢʁɑls] 'annoying' (~ SD irriterende [i(ɐ̯)ˈtˢeɐ̯ˀnə]), og [ˈʌ] 'too' (~ SD også [ˈʌsə]), ikke og [eˈɡ̊ʌ] or, in higher style, ikke også [eˈɡ̊ʌsə] 'isn't it' (~ SD ikke, ikke sandt [ˈeɡ̊(ə), eɡ̊ˈsænˀd̥]).


  1. 1 2 3 "Jysk Ordbog" (in Danish). Peter Skautrup Centret (Aarhus University). Dictionary on Jutlandic dialects.
  2. Ethnologue entry
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Jutish". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Hart, Margot Sue (2010). Consonant Lenition in Danish. Tromsø: University of Tromsø. p. 11.
  5. Nielsen, Niels Åge (1959). De jyske Dialekter. Copenhagen: Gyldendal. pp. 39–49.
  6. Hart, Margot Sue (2010). Consonant Lenition in Danish. Tromsø: University of Tromsø. p. 16.
  7. Galberg, Henrik; et al. (2003). Take Danish - for instance "The vowel system of Danish and phonological theory". Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag. pp. 41–47.
  8. Nielsen, Niels Åge (1959). De jyske Dialekter. Copenhagen: Gyldendal. p. 48.

See also

Jutlandic dialect test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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