i really enjoy speaking danish. the gurgles and glottal stops fill a space in my mouth that english has never touched. i like the efficiency and directness of the language: the compound nouns, the point-blank names for concepts and descriptions, the way articles are attached to the ends of the nouns. i like expressions that we don't have equivalents of in english, even if i don't always get them and more often than not can't later remember them. visually the language appeals to me, too. i like the three "extra" vowels, the fact that there is no "x" ("ks" is used instead), and all the g's and k's. the discrepancy between orthography and pronounciation, for example the multitude of silent letters - only about half of the letters in "selvfølgelig" (which means "of course" or "obviously" but transliterates to "self following") are pronounced - is a challenge which makes both speaking and spelling difficult, but it keeps things interesting, at least, and adds to the feeling i have that danish is a secret language and it's just a matter of cracking the code. the difficult thing is that there doesn't really seem to be a code. i'm sure there are lots of linguistic rules than can be explained by morphological weakenings or whatever but most of the time it's a trip just to figure out the patterns of this language, let alone what the exceptions are. are g's always silent? no. when do you pronounce an "l"? good question. what about a word-final "n"? most of the time, just use your intuition. what about d's? don't even ask.
i really hated phonology, but i am starting to see how it is useful. i just wish i could remember some of the stuff i learned in that class.
with all these linguistic idiosyncracies aside, the single thing that makes danish "difficult" to learn (as anyone will tell you it is, even though i'd argue that it's really not that complicated of a language - you don't even have to conjugate verbs according to person, let alone gender!) is the social climate. i'll explain. the danish population doesn't expect foreigners to learn danish. they just don't. danish is "only" spoken by five and a half (maybe six) million people, including people in greenland and the faroe islands. denmark's a homogenous country populated mostly by ethnic danes, whose families have spoken danish since before my country was even an idea. immigration on the scale that it's on now is a recent phenomenon in danish history and, simply put, most danes don't expect people who didn't grow up speaking danish (whether "proper" copenhagen danish or provincial southern jutlandic is a different story) to even try to wrap their tongues around these combinations of sounds. and herein lies the challenge. as a foreigner, if you want to be understood by the danes, you have to convince them that they can understand you. your pronunciation has to be spot-on. danish relies heavily on intonation and inflection and if you pronounce a word with the stress in the wrong place, people won't understand you because they're not used to hearing it spoken that way. not because it is wrong, per se, but that is simply Not How It Is Done. there have been attempts by the danish government to revise the danish spelling system to make it, in fact, more systematic and thus easier to learn - even schoolchildren have a hard time learning to spell danish - but these attempts have been met with resistence. i think a deep-seated traditionalism in the "danish national character" (if that even exists) is responsible for keeping people not only hanging on to the quirks of "their" language but also for keeping immigrants out, danes in, and everything, more or less, in its right place.