language, immigration, heritage


In the latter half of the nineteenth century, over 22,000 Scandinavians joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (hereafter referred to as the church or the LDS church) and migrated to Utah.1 Well over half of these Scandinavians, 12,350 (not including children age 12 and under), were Danes.2

This influx of people who spoke a language other than English and came from a cultural background different from that of the original Anglo-American settlers of Utah presented some perplexing challenges. Even Brigham Young, the territorial governor and LDS church president, found them difficult to resolve. According to local folklore, he once said, "Twenty-eight wagons and all Danish! That language! Everything they say comes out upside down or inside out."3 For many decades, Young and other government and church leaders wrestled with linguistic issues in their efforts to help the Danes integrate into Utah society.