How to spot a Danish chicken

Posted on 20. May, 2015 by in Denmark and the World, Design, Food, Society

Reklamer (ads) can be a great way of picking up ord og udtryk (words and expressions). Very often, you also learn something about kulturen (the culture). This is particularly true in Danmark, I think. Ads here very often use humor or ironi or ordspil (word-play) – remember the movie about buspassageren (the bus passenger)?

The following three plakater (posters) were hanging at a banegård (train station). I think they illustrate danskhed (Danishness) in a really nice way. The product they’re trying at sælge (to sell) is kylling (chicken) from the firm Dansk Kylling. Many Danes don’t trust the quality of kød (meat) from other EU-lande (EU countries), so the name and the ads pander a bit to that fear. Of course, you can also look positively at it: People may want to support local landmænd (farmers). There is even the issue of salmonella, a grisly virus that keeps popping up in food stuff like eggs and chicken. If it’s dansk it must be safe, that seems to be the message! :-)

Hvordan ved man om en kylling er dansk? (How do you know if a chicken is Danish?)

IMG_25531. Tjek om den åbner døren i badesandaler. (See if it opens the door wearing slippers.) Danes are notorious for their informality; in fact a survey once found the Danes to be the most casually dressed people in the EU!

IMG_25511. Hvis den går til 1. maj og er lidt i tvivl om hvorfor. (If it goes to a May 1st [rally] and is a bit in doubt as to why [it does it].) Denmark has a strong workers union tradition. The thing is, however, that nowadays most Danes live really nice lives and have only small ”first-world problems”. So, people go to the ”socialist day” of May 1st to enjoy themselves and drink øl

IMG_25521. Spørg hvor den var den 26. juni 1992. (Ask where it was on June 26th, 1992.) As every fodboldfan (football/soccer fan) knows, this was the date when Denmark beat Tyskland (Germany), becoming European Football Champion for the first time ever. The supporter, of course, is wearing a klaphat.

Okay, when you’re done with step 1., the ad asks you to

2. Tjek om emballagen i supermarkedet er mærket ”dansk kylling”. (Check if the packing in the supermarket is marked with ”Danish Chicken”).

Remember the words you forget

Posted on 13. May, 2015 by in Learning, Vocabulary

(Photo courtesy of Cyron at Flickr, CC License.)

(Photo courtesy of Cyron at Flickr, CC License.)

Together with my students at a language course, I recently found a great way of activating det passive ordforråd (the passive vocabulary). I wrote a simple word on tavlen (the blackboard), asking my students to find its modsætning (opposite). Then we picked another word, found its ”opposite”, and the game went on and on and on… The students were surprised how many words they knew! :-)

Let’s play this game here on the blog. I’ll add only one translation, the other you’ll have to add in your mind!

god (good) – dårlig

sulten (hungry) – mæt

tom (empty) – fuld

fuld (drunk) – ædru

lille (small) – stor

dag (day) – nat

kvinde (woman) – mand

mørk (dark) – lys

hvid (white) – sort

her (here) – der

trist (sad) – glad

tung (heavy) – let

let (easy) – svær

ude (outside) – inde

land (countryside) – by

ung (young) – gammel

tynd (thin) – tyk

at græde (to weep) – at grine

sund (healthy) – usund

fjende (enemy) – ven

krig (war) – fred

had (hate) – kærlighed

spørgsmål (question) – svar

klog (knowledgeable) – dum

bjerg (mountain) – dal

syg (ill) – rask

farlig (dangerous) – tryg

smuk (beautiful) – grim

kedelig (boring) – sjov

at huske (to remember) – at glemme

Now, that isn’t too svær, is it? :-) Many words have a ”twin” or a ”partner” that somehow is linked to it without being an actual opposite. Take for instance

hund (dog) – kat

at spise (to eat) – at drikke

at skynde sig (to hurry) – at vente

Do you agree with those? What are the opposites or ”partners” of

is (ice)

hav (sea)

ansigt (face)

fod (foot)

stilhed (silence)

kød (meat)

at smile (to smile)

at snakke (to talk)

blå (blue)

regn (rain)


Sometimes, words seem to come in sets of 3 or 4: far, mor, børn (dad, mum, kids) – sol, måne, stjerne (sun, moon, star) – nord, syd, øst, vest (N, S, E, W) – øre, næse, øje, mund (ear, nose, eye, mouth). Maybe we could ”gamify” those sets as well…

Crossing the Border

Posted on 30. Apr, 2015 by in Geography, History, Society

The INDGANG (Danish: entrance) to Poetsch shopping centre in Padborg, Germany.

The INDGANG (Danish: entrance) to Poetsch shopping centre in Padborg, Germany.

Vil du med til grænsen? (Do you want to [go] with [us] to the border?) When two friends offered me en plads i bilen (a spot in the car), I couldn’t miss the chance to go on my first ever grænsehandel (border trade [trip]). Not that I actually needed to købe (buy) anything on the German side of the grænse between Danmark and Tyskland (Germany)… But with so many people talking about their border-crossings, I too wanted to take a look…

Grænselandet (the border district) has always been a ”hot zone” between danskerne (the Danes) and their southern naboer (neighbours). At the ”foot” of the Jylland peninsula are the two old duchies of Slesvig og Holsten (in German: Schleswig und Holstein). At one point of history, they were ruled by the king of Denmark. Later on, they became German. (In 1864, Denmark lost a war against Germany [Prussia] over these territories – to commemorate the 150th anniversary of nederlaget, the defeat, Danish television broadcast the very expensive series ”1864” last year.) In 1920, the people of Nordslesvig (Northern Slesvig) voted to be reunited with Denmark. To celebrate the historical moment, King Christian X crossed the former border at the stream Kongeåen (King’s Stream) on a hvid hest (white horse).

Today, there is a small group of German-speakers in Southernmost Denmark, and a bigger minority of Danish-speakers in Northernmost Germany. The German Danes have their own skoler (schools), butikker (shops) and everything. They’re quite visible, for example in the city of Flensburg, where you find Danish restaurants with little Dannebrog flags, a couple of bilingual street signs, and so on. I think Denmark has been less respectful to its Danish Germans – for example, some days ago, people in Åbenrå tore down a new sign that had added the town’s German name (Apenrade).

”Dansk Softis” in Flensburg. In Denmark, the sign would’ve said ”Dansk Softice”.

”Dansk Softis” in Flensburg. In Denmark, the sign would’ve said ”Dansk Softice”.

So, back to indkøbene (the ”shoppings”): Just at the other side of the border, you pass some enormous warehouses with big parkeringspladser (parking lots). All the cars are clearly from Denmark. The billboards are in Danish. You choose a mall, grab an indkøbsvogn (shopping trolley) and hunt down goods such as øl (beer), slik (candy, sweets) and cigaretter. The lady at the counter speaks Danish.

Why are there so many Danes driving to Germany to shop goods that you can easily get in Denmark? One of my two companions told me it was just part of life for people in Southern Jutland. If you buy large amounts of something – such as dåseøl (canned beer) – you may even save some money: Goods are still a bit cheaper in Germany than in Denmark. But hey, even if they weren’t, nothing really tops the thrill of crossing grænsen, does it? :-)