Snow Words

Posted on 30. Jan, 2015 by in Daily Life, Vocabulary

(Photo by Bjørn A. Bojesen.)

(Photo by Bjørn A. Bojesen.)

Det sner! (It’s snowing!) The last week or so, temperatures have been dropping all over Danmark. Many places finally got a bit of sne (snow). The region where I live – Midtjylland (Central Jutland) – looked like a postkort (postcard) this weekend, with people playing in the snow and even skiing! :-) Today there are only a few klatter (patches) left, but vinteren er ikke forbi (the winter hasn’t ended)! Here’s a handful of snow words. Catch!

snemand (snow man). Snemænd are happy to be built; less so when solen smelter dem (the Sun is melting them), until there’s only a gulerod (carrot) left, lying on the ground.

snebold (snowball). Children love at kaste med (throwing) snebolde, and some adults do, too…

snefnug (snowflakes) are just as beautiful as they sound… There aren’t many Danish words starting with fn-, and fnug [fnook] (fluff, flake) is one of them. Let them fall down on your tunge (tongue). Fnug, fnug!

snestorm (blizzard or snowstorm). Meteorologer (meteorologists) love snestorme, because they always give’em a chance to act really dramatic i fjernsynet (on tv). Skolebørn (school children) are quite fond of them, too, as skolerne (the schools) are occasionally closed når det bliver for vildt (when it gets too wild)…

snevejr (snow weather) is any kind of vejr [vare] (weather) when it’s snowing. It’s often perfect for a gåtur (walk), ’cause, as the saying goes: Der er intet i verden så stille som sne. (There’s nothing in this world as quiet as snow.) Other times, however, sneen (the snow) conspires with vinden (the wind) to make a chilling snefog [SNEHfoww] (snowdrift)… Husk hue, vanter og halstørklæde! (Remember your cap, mittens and scarf!)

tøsne (melting snow or sleet) is the kind of snow that Danes hate driving their biler (cars) through… Danish children, though, hope for some more of the cold, nice frostsne (frost snow) that all of a sudden turns bustling Denmark into a true winter wonderland….

Talking about the future

Posted on 08. Jan, 2015 by in grammar

(Courtesy of Comrade Foot at Flickr.)

(Courtesy of Comrade Foot at Flickr.)

2015 is upon us, so I thought it would be a great idea to look a bit ahead – grammatically speaking, that is! As you may be aware, verbs in Spanish and Esperanto and many other languages have a distinct future tense (yo cantaré/mi kantos = I’ll sing). In English, we’ve got to make compound tricks like I’ll sing or I shall sing or I’m going to sing. You’ll see that dansk is quite similar to English in this respect! :-)

Danes often talk about fremtiden (the future) in nutid (present tense):

  • Færgen sejler på søndag. (The ferry will depart on Sunday. – Literally: The ferry sails…)
  • I år får vi mange stikkelsbær. (This year we’ll get a lot of gooseberries.)
  • Flyver de ud til Venus og Mars? (Will they be flying out to Venus and Mars?)

The last example is from the Kim Larsen song Hvad mon de laver om hundrede år? (”Wonder what they’ll be doing in one hundred years?”) Obviously the sentence must be understood as having the future tense in this context!

However, the present tense is sometimes too ambiguous. The most common solution is to use the word vil (will) + an uninflected verb (infinitive or ”dictionary” form):

  • Turisterne vil strømme til det nye museum. (The tourists will be flocking to the new museum.)
  • Én dag vil du fortryde det her! (One day you’ll regret this!)

Please notice that vil also means wanna, so there can still be a bit of confusion even with this word!

  • Jeg vil spise en is NU! (I want to eat an ice-cream NOW!)
  • Jeg vil spise en is – når det engang bliver sommer. (I’m going to eat an ice-cream – once the summer is here.)

Skal (shall/have to) is often used like vil, but it’s more of an obligation, something you have to do (or commit yourself to do) in the near future:

  • Hvad skal vi spise? (What are we going to eat?)
  • De skal skilles. (They are going to be divorced.)
  • Det skal jeg nok. (Yeah, I’ll do that.)
  • Skal vi danse? (Shall we dance?)

Finally there is kommer til at, which is also quite common, maybe a bit more so in the spoken language:

  • Tror du det kommer til at sne? (Do you think it’s going to snow?)
  • Vi kommer bare til at have det SÅ sjovt!! (We’re just gonna have SO much fun!)

Word of the Year 2014

Posted on 31. Dec, 2014 by in Slang, Vocabulary


’Regnbueaktivist’ was one of the words nominated as the Danish ”word of the year”. (Free image from Open Clipart.)

Every year a handful of Danish language geeks kårer årets danske ord (elect the Danish ”word of the year”). This year, Sproglaboratoriet (’The Language Lab’), a Danish radio programme, had nominated the following twelve ord:

• Byhaver (’city gardens’) are small gardens that have become popular in Danish towns and cities. They may be shared by more than one owner, and folk (people) are careful to ensure that every addition to their little piece-of-wilderness is økologisk (biodynamic) and miljøvenlig (’enviromentally friendly’).

• Digital borger (’digital citizen’) refers to the fact that e-mail and internet skemaer (forms) are replacing letters between det offentlige (public services/the State) and borgerne (the citizens) everywhere in Denmark. Just a couple of years ago people used to receive things like their selvangivelse (tax form) in their postkasse (letter box); now everything is done on Internettet using NemID [nehm ee deh] (’Easy ID’, a kind of password generator).

• Ebola.

• Girafgate. Do you remember the terrible killing of the giraffe Marius back in February? Inspired by the American ”Watergate” scandal, someone mixed Danish with English to create this new word… 

• Hverdagssexisme means ’everyday sexism’. Some people, most often kvinder (women), are still not treated with the respekt they’re entitled to according to Danish laws about ligestilling (equality of status).

• Inklusion. There’s a lot of talk about including immigrants better in the Danish society, including weak pupils better in Danish schools, and so on! :-)

• Konkurrencestat (’competition state/country’). I’m not very much into politics, but whenever politicians bang on about Danes having to ”work harder” I imagine they have this word written all over their brains… Little Denmark competing against giant countries like Kina and USA. Wow.

• Madspild means ”waste of food” and is a problem everywhere in the world, not just in Denmark! :-) That said, there’s a group of people here, called skraldere (dumpster divers), that try to save some of all the fresh mad that supermarkeder dump in containere every day.

• Mobilepay is an app that makes it easy to transfer money between different kontoer (accounts). This app has become so popular that it’s become a verb: ”Jeg mobilepay’er dig lige 20 kroner.” (”I ’mobilepay’ you 20 Kroner in a sec.”)

• Nødløgn (’necessity lie’) is a kind of ”little lie” you say to save yourself. If you’re a guy with an overweight wife and she asks you if she looks fat, a nødløgn could come handy… :-)

• Regnbueaktivist (’rainbow activist’). Hm. I guess this refers either to gay/lesbian activists, or Greenpeace activists! In 2013, the Danish Greenpeace activist Anne Mie Roer Jensen spent many weeks in a Russian prison because of a protest against Russians drilling for oil in the Arctic…

• Retænke should’ve been ”gentænke” (re-think) in ”proper Danish”; this looks like a fun mix of Danish and Latin languages!

And the winner was … mobilepay!

Last year the winning word was the good, ole Danish word undskyld (sorry!), so a number of people protested that an English word was elected… Well, in 2014, lots of people in Denmark mobilepay’ede (’mobilepaid’) each other, and talked about it, and that’s the way words get popular, no matter how you feel about them. :-)

Godt nytår! See you in 2015!