Greenland may be known for its icy landscapes, beautiful glaciers, and awe-inspiring world-class natural wonders. But for anyone planning to travel to Greenland and not familiar with the country, the question that comes to mind is:
Is English widely spoken in Greenland?
The answer to this is a bit more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Greenland, a self-governed territory of Denmark, has two official languages: Kalaallisut (Greenlandic) and Danish, but English is widely spoken by many people.
The history of Languages in Greenland
Before 1979, Danish was the only official language used in Greenland. However, after that year, Kalaallisut or Greenlandic also became an official language. That said, you’ll still find people who do not speak English fluently. It’s important to keep in mind that while you may find English spoken widely in cities and towns visited by tourists, the hinterlands, more rural areas, and remote communities may not have such a high proficiency in the language. In those areas, it’s better to communicate in Greenlandic or Danish.
English in Greenland Cities
Most people who travel to Greenland and come out of the airports are surprised to hear English spoken so widely. The airports will have attendants who speak both Danish and English, but everyone else is easy to approach in English. Greenland’s main cities Nuuk, Sisimiut, Kangerlussuaq, Ilulissat, Qaqortoq, Tasiilaq, and Paamiut all have a high proficiency in English as these are the most visited areas in Greenland.
Travellers should not shy away from visiting remote communities, especially if they have a specific interest in the culture and history of Greenland. After all, half the fun of travelling is discovering how people live their day-to-day lives.
Greenlandic and Danish Language
Why are the other languages of the country important? Greenlandic is the first language of around 50,000 of the 56,000 inhabitants of Greenland. Danish is also spoken by most of the population as well which is of the same language family as English. Greenlandic, on the other hand, is completely unrelated to English and Danish and can be quite challenging for most people to learn. However, Danish and English are closely related, and some aspects of the grammar are quite similar.
Cultural Differences in Speaking English
When visitors travel to Greenland for the first time, they may notice that the English spoken in Greenland may have a slightly different accent compared to what they are used to in other English-speaking countries. The way Greenlanders use tone and inflection may seem strange to some travellers, but it’s part of the fascinating mix of cultural differences that make each country unique.
Traveling to Greenland can be an exciting adventure. It’s a land of breathtaking landscapes, unique culture, and languages different from anywhere in the world. While English is widely spoken throughout most of the country, some rural areas may not have a high proficiency in English, which makes it essential to learn a few essential phrases in Greenlandic or Danish.
In essence, travellers should not worry about the language barrier when traveling to Greenland, and they should embrace the wonderful opportunity to learn about new languages and new cultures that make the country unique.