How Hard Is Danish?

Posted on 30. Sep, 2015 by in Learning

(Free image from OpenClipart.)

(Free image from OpenClipart.)

How hard is Danish actually? I’d say it depends a lot on your native language (in addition to your tongue-twisting skills, of course!) If you’re an English-speaker – good on you. Both languages come from the same Germanic roots, and there are loads of similarities, grammar-wise and vocabulary-wise:

De har en kniv. (They have a knife.)
Naboens ko giver god mælk. (The neighbour’s cow gives [some] good milk.)

Some things are even easier than in English, such as the present tense of verbs:

Jeg løber. (I’m running.)
Du løber. (You’re running.)
Han løber hver onsdag. (He runs every Wednesday.)

…or such as the way questions are made:

Løber du? (Are you running?)
Løber du tit? (Do you often run?)

Other things, of course, are harder. For example, Danish nouns have got two different genders, and for each new noun learnt you have to memorize whether it’s an en or et word – and modify any adjective accordingly:

Solen er rød. (The sun is red.)
Huset er rødt. (The house is red.)

Here are a couple of things that Danes themselves struggle with:

• final -er. Like in British English, final Rs are rarely pronounced in Danish. They do, however, ”colour” the vowel next to them – compare tale [tal-uh] (speech) and taler [tal-oʳ] (speeches). The problem is when there’s already a ”colouring” R before the final -er! You just cannot hear the difference between lære ([to] learn) and lærer (learns) or between køre ([to] drive) and kører (drives). Many Danes mix such words up all the time! :-)

sin. In theory, han tog hans hat means ”he took someone else’s hat”. ”He took his own hat” would be han tog sin hat. The distinction between hans/hendes (his/her) and sin (his/her own) has disappeared in many dialects, and some people are simply making wild guesses! :-)

During the next couple of months, I’d like to help you overcome some of your Danish struggles. To that end, this blog needs your help! So, please take some time to drop a comment answering the following: In your experience, what is the most difficult part of learning Danish? What really makes YOU fret, sweat and despair?

A Danish Quiz

Posted on 21. Sep, 2015 by in Denmark and the World, Fun

The Queen’s guards marching at Amalienborg in Copenhagen. (Photo by Tuala Hjarnø at Flickr, CC License.)

The Queen’s guards marching at Amalienborg in Copenhagen. (Photo by Tuala Hjarnø at Flickr, CC License.)

How much do you know about Danish culture? Here’s a quick quiz to speed up your brain…

1. Danes are said to talk with a … in their mouth.
Æ. frø (frog)
Ø. kartoffel (potato)
Å. rugbrød (rye bread)

2. LEGO is short for
Æ. leg godt (play well)
Ø. lev godt (live well)
Å. lille egoist (little egoist)

3. When Danes have eaten, they often say
Æ. skål (cheers)
Ø. tak for mad (thanks for the food)
Å. (nothing – they just leave the table)

4. Denmark was the first country to legalize
Æ. slavery
Ø. marijuana
Å. pornography

5. Dannebrog, the Danish flag, is said to have fallen from the sky in
Æ. Estonia
Ø. Poland
Å. Atlantis

6. The Queen of Denmark is called
Æ. Margrethe I
Ø. Margrethe III
Å. Margrethe II

7. The famous tongue-twister rødgrød med fløde actually means
Æ. Rotten bread with butter
Ø. Red porridge with cream
Å. Leftover porridge with cream

8. Danish is spoken natively in
Æ. Denmark and Poland
Ø. Denmark and parts of Germany
Å. Denmark and parts of Sweden

9. In which film can you hear Viggo Mortensen speaking Danish
Æ. Jauja
Ø. Eastern Promises
Å. The Fellowship of the Ring

10. How did former PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt get the world’s attention
Æ. She signed a famous deal with the EU
Ø. She made Vladimir Putin burst into laughter at a funeral
Å. She took a selfie with Barack Obama

11. The Danish language is difficult because it has got so many finely tuned
Æ. hiccups
Ø. burps
Å. vowels

12. The national bird of Denmark is the
Æ. svale (swallow)
Ø. svane (swan)
Å. spurv (sparrow)

13. Danes still love to talk about the year 1992 when
Æ. De danske fodbolddrenge (the Danish football ”boys”) beat Germany and became European Champions
Ø. De danske håndboldpiger (the Danish handball ”girls”) beat Croacia and became European Champions
Å. The Danish language got a new vowel

14. In 2014, Danes voted that their national dish should be
Æ. Bøf med løg (hamburger steak with onion)
Ø. Stegt rødspætte (fried plaice [a very flat kind of fish])
Å. Stegt flæsk med persillesovs (fried pork with parsley sauce)

15. In September 2015, the first Danish astronaut landed at the International Space Station. His name is
Æ. Andreas Mogensen
Ø. Wulff Morgenthaler
Å. Benny Andersen

The answers are… 1ø 2æ 3ø 4å 5æ 6å 7ø 8ø 9æ 10å 11å 12ø 13æ 14å 15æ

So, how many did you get right? :-)

Danish for Librarians

Posted on 31. Aug, 2015 by in Culture, Literature

Scene from Rødovre Library. (Courtesy of seier+seier at Flickr, CC License.)

Scene from Rødovre Library. (Courtesy of seier+seier at Flickr, CC License.)

Talking is king, but sometimes en god bog (a good book) may be your best friend in your struggle to absorb the charming Danish language! Finding a bibliotek [beebleeohTEHK] (library) is never a problem in Denmark, as even smaller towns use to have a public library. Most often, however, you will need a Danish address and  personnummer (civil registration number) in order to get a lånerkort (library card). Of course, you’re always welcome to stay at the library and read its books and aviser (newspapers) on the spot. Many Danish libraries also have free extra services such as computere and printere and mødelokaler (meeting rooms). Below are a couple of dialogues between a låner (patron) and a bibliotekar (librarian). (Please note that a direct translation between the two languages is not always possible.) Be aware that customer service in Denmark is increasingly web-based, so there’s a chance the librarian might refer you to a hjemmeside [YEMMehseetheh] (webpage, homepage) before the dialogue gets too lengthy! :-) Most official webpages also come in an English-language version.

1. Lånerkort (Library Card)

Librarian: Hej (Hello).
Patron: Hej, jeg vil gerne låne den her bog. (Hi, I would like to check out this book.)
Librarian: Okay. Har du et lånerkort? (Sure! Do you have a library card?)
Patron: Nej (No).
Librarian: Okay. Hvis du vil have et, skal du oprette dig som bruger inde på vores hjemmeside. Jeg skal også lige se dit sygesikringsbevis. (Okay. To get one, you’ll need you to register as a user on our homepage. I’ll also need to see your Danish health card.)
Patron: Fint. Det gør jeg. Hvad giver lånerkortet adgang til? (Sure, I’ll do that. What can I access with my library card?)
Librarian: Det giver adgang til alle resourcerne i vores system, fra bøger, lydbøger, cd’er, dvd’er til online-tjenester som Transparent Language Online. (You can access any resource in our system, including books, audio books, CDs, DVDs, and even online services like Transparent Language Online.)
Patron: Fedt! Jeg har allerede registreret mig. Her er mit sygesikringsbevis. (Wow! I’ve already registered. Here’s my health card.)
Librarian: Super. Jeg har oprettet dig som låner, og bogen er blevet udlånt i dit navn. (Great, I’ve established you as a user, and checked out the book to you [the book has been checked out in your name].)
Patron: Hvornår skal den afleveres? (When is it due?)
Librarian: Du skal aflevere bogen igen i løbet af en måned. (You need to return the book within a month.)
Patron: Kan lånet forlænges? (Can I renew it?)
Librarian: Ja, du logger bare ind på vores hjemmeside, og så kan du forlænge lånet så længe der ikke står andre i kø. (Yes! Just log into our website and you can renew it as long as no one has it on hold [no one else is standing in line].)
Patron: Mange tak. (Thank you so much.)
Librarian: Det var så lidt. God fornøjelse! (You’re welcome! Enjoy!)

2. Udlån (Checking Out Materials)

Patron: Hej! Jeg vil gerne låne Den Grimme Ælling, men jeg kan ikke finde den på hylden. (Hi! I’d like to check out The Ugly Duckling but I can’t seem to find it on the shelf.)
Librarian: Lige et øjeblik, så tjekker jeg vores database. (Okay, just one minute while I check our database.)
Patron: Okay. (No problem.)
Librarian: Jeg er ked af det, men bogen er udlånt indtil næste uge. Vil du reservere den? (I’m sorry, that book has been checked out until next week. Would you like to put it on hold?)
Patron: Ja tak. (Yes, please.)
Librarian: Fint. Giv mig lige dit lånerkort. Du får en mail når bogen er tilgængelig. (Okay, let me scan your library card. You’ll get a mail when it’s available.)
Patron: Super! Har du nogle gode læseforslag i mellemtiden? (Great! In the meantime, do you have any other recommendations [some good reading recommendations]?)
Librarian: Selvfølgelig. Hvad for nogle bøger kan du lide? (Always! [Of course.] What kinds of books do you like?)
Patron: Jeg er meget glad for biografier, men jeg læser også en masse moderne faglitteratur. (I really enjoy biographies, but I also read lots of contemporary non-fiction.)
Librarian: Jeg skriver lige nogle forslag til dig. Du kan også søge efter tilsvarende bøger på vores hjemmeside. (Let me write down some suggestions [for you]. You can also search our homepage to find similar books.)
Patron: Fantastisk! Hvor mange bøger kan man låne samtidig? (Awesome! How many books can I check out at once?)
Librarian: Så mange som du vil! (As many as you’d like!)
Patron: Og hvor længe kan man låne en bog? (And for how long can I check books out?)
Librarian: Du kan låne en bog i en måned ad gangen. (You may check out a book for a month at a time.)
Patron: Får man bøde for at aflevere for sent? (Do you charge fees for late returns?)
Librarian: Ja, men vi sender dig først en påmindelse på mail. Her er listen. Sig endelig til hvis du har brug for mere hjælp! (Yes, but we’ll send you a reminder e-mail before it’s due. Here’s the list, let me know if you need any help.)
Patron: Mange tak! (Thanks so much!)

3. God læselyst! (Enjoy your reading!)