Posted by: ilanasmith | February 21, 2007

Jeg Kan Ikke Tale Dansk

If you’re going to move to a country where you don’t speak the language, Denmark is a pretty great choice.  While the signs and the websites and radio and television don’t usually speak English, everyone else does.  Everyone!  It’s ridiculous.  They speak to me in Danish, I answer in English, and without a missed beat, the conversation continues.  Everyone!  (Where everyone = everyone minus my weird Baba-Yaga-looking next door neighbour, but Australian-level language skills are not her only problem.)

The general consensus is that you can get along perfectly well without speaking a word of Danish.  I’ll testify to this.  I might get confused on the Metro by the friendly announcement that tells me why we seem to have taken a smoko on the tracks for no apparent reason, and I might be completely stumped at the supermarket, wondering which washing detergents don’t contain bleach, but otherwise I’m doing fine. 

This doesn’t mean I’m necessarily happy about it.  It’s not just due to my aversion to having to speak to real people rather than just look information up.  I’m very conscious of not speaking the language and am going to give learning it a go.

Last night I had my first Danish lesson.  It was pretty fun.  Danish pronounciation and spelling will, however, be the death of me.  Sometimes letters are randomly pronounced in different ways.  Often, bunches of letters aren’t pronounced at all.  "Of course" (or obviously, or naturally, or something like it) for example is ‘selvfølgelig’.  In our class, we did an exercise where we struck out the unpronounced letters.  (Apparently I should get very used to this exercise.)  Selvfølgelig ends up as selvlgelig; "seføli" (= "sefOORly"). 

With my memory being so picture-based, I can’t remember any of these words or phrases until I’ve seen them written down.  Once I’ve seen them written down, the pronounciation is gone.  It’s gonna be tough.

My logical nerdy little mind wouldn’t mind so much if there was deviation from the norm, as long as there was some kind of consistency. But there isn’t.  Selvfølgelig.



  1. Hi! I’m learning danish to. I think the language have a complicated pronnunciation but the grammar is easier. I’m spanish and actually i’m living in Spain until 7th of July. My girlfriend is danish and finally, after 7 years living in Spain i’m decided to move to Denmark. I tried to learn some danish online but i think that’s almost imposible. Sorry if my english is not good. I would like to receive an advice from one person who is learning danish like you. I’ll go to Aarhus, do you know something about how to learn danish there? Thanks!

  2. hej jeg er fra turkiet og jeg vil laere dansk jeg vil bedre min dansk jeg snake ikke mal tak for hjelp

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: