Why Danish? Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Jun 26, 2011 in Uncategorized
Why learn Danish? That is a question the Danes themselves in particular seem to be pondering. When you visit Denmark, you’ll discover that most Danes are very eager to practice their English skills with you! The foreigner who’s having a love affair with the Danish language can have a rather hard time informing everybody that jeg vil gerne tale dansk – ”I would like to speak dansk”.
Although still spoken as a second language in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Danish is in no way a minor world language like Portuguese or even German. Within the Nordic cultures, it seems to have drawn the short straw, too: It does not give access to the mountains of Norway or the wild woodlands of Finland and Sweden, and if Vikings turn you on, Icelandic is the language to go for. (It’ll let you read the ancient sagas.)
Yet from a certain point of view, Danish is a very important language.
It is the key to the Kingdom of Denmark, from jetset Copenhagen to cosy in-the-middle-of-nowhere village taverns to the infinite beaches on Jutland’s west coast. It may sound like havregrød i kog(boiling oatmeal porridge, so Danish poet Benny Andersen), but learning it will connect you with a world full of light-hearted humour, spot-on everyday metaphors, and the silent joy of being.
Danish has been the vehicle of many great minds, including universally enjoyed authors H.C. Andersen and Karen Blixen, and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. In fact, Spanish author Miguel de Unamuno learnt Danish precisely in order to read Kierkegaard!
The Italian guys I met in my hometown Århus a couple of years ago weren’t in doubt either: They wanted to learn Danish so that they could get in touch with all the beautiful, blonde girls that seemed to pop up everywhere!
I remember a Rumanian co-student who used to amuse himself repeating the word agurk (cucumber, pronounced more or less ”a-gooak”) over and over again. He told me Danish sounded like an extraterrestrian language, and he sure had a lot of fun trying to master it!
Before giving the stage to another Danish poet, Piet Hein, I just want to wish you held og lykke! with your Danish studies!
Denmark seen from foreign land
Looks but like a grain of sand.
Denmark as we Danes conceive it
Is so big you won’t believe it.
Why not let us compromise
About Denmark’s proper size?
Which will truly please us all
Since it’s greater than it’s small.
What is your motivation to learn Danish? Tell the other readers by adding a comment!
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