August 16, 2018 | Leave a comment
The Law of Jante explained
August 16, 2018 | Leave a comment
The Law of Jante explained
November 2, 2017 | Leave a comment
How to count in Danish
(also known as ‘how to confuse Swedes’)
While the Scandi languages are very close – we can all understand most of each other’s languages, especially after a few beers – there are certain areas where things just stumble and everybody is left lost. This causes all sorts of awkward situations. One such subject is counting in Danish numbers, because Danes count in something called vigesimal – which is basically counting in twenties rather than tens (not dissimilar to the French).
First, the basics: The ones, then the tens…
In Danish: En, to, tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, otte, ni, ti.
Swedish and Norwegian follows a logic structure of counting:
10 in Swedish is Tio. Twenty is Tjugo. Thirty is Tretio. Forty is Firtio. Fifty is Femtio. You see where we’re going with this – logically, adding ten (tio) on the end. It’s similar in Norwegian.
Now, the same in Danish: The singles are fine – and then…
10 = Ti
To understand, we need to look at the old word sinde, which meant ‘times’ (as in ‘multiply’).
We also need to understand that the root of the numbers work on twenties rather than tens. So, 60 is tres – coming from tre(3)-sinde-tyve(20)=tresindetyve=tres(60), [shortened to tres].
Eighty follows similar patterns, as it is of course 4 time 20 = fire(4)-sinde-tyve(20)=firsindetyve=firs(80)
Still with it? Okay, let’s complicate it a bit now. The halves.
Halv 3 = 2½, halv 4 = 3½, halv 5 = 4½
70 is Halvfjers = 3 x 20 + 10 (the half) = halvfjerde-sinde-tyve – shortened to halvfjerds (70).
90 is Halvfems = 4 x 20 + 10 (the half) = halvfem-sinde-tyve – shortened to halvfems (90).
Now remember that no Danes will ever count in the full words – they will only use the shortened version. Also, few Danes understand the logic behind the numbering system, meaning some teachers find it hard to teach maths to younger children, due to this structure – let alone explain it to a foreinger, let alone a drunk Swede stranded in a bar in Copenhagen trying to pay for his beer.
Also, just in case you need something else to set the system aside from say Swedish: In Swedish, you count with the tens first – then the singles. Example: Femti-fyra = 54. The same number in Danish would be Fireoghalvtreds, i.e. the singular number first. So, four-and-half-twenty-times-four-and-a-half-kill-me-now.
Lastly, you need to know that the Danish numbering system is not hyphenated like it is in say, English. So, 95 in English is ninety-five, and the same number in Danish would be written femoghalvfems (five and half fives – the og (and) linking the numbers together to form the final number.
How about ordering four half threes of eggs? 54. Or maybe we’re counting the pigs on the farm – there are three half fives (93).
In short, the Danish numbering system stems from counting in twenties and half twenties – and looking to make anyone who attempts to explain it wish they had never attempted to do so.
It is a constant source of amusement and confusion to the Swedes and Norwegians that Danes can actually work out how to count in the first place.
Next week: how to say 1st, 5th, 10th, and 40th in Danish. This is when it gets really complicated.
This week’s homework: Find a Swede or Norwegian and ask him to count for you in Danish and watch him squirm with uncomfortable feelings.
January 20, 2017 | 1 Comment
How to swear (a little bit)
Look, it’s not our job to educate you on the worst swear words. That simply isn’t a nice thing to do. We do live in Britain, after all, where swearing is frowned upon. So, we’ve made a little handy list of the most common, less offensive ways to adding bad Scandi words to your everyday life, if this is what you’re after.
You can start with these and then move on to the strong stuff, if you so fancy. These words are, by and large, relatively safe to attempt and will bring giggles from your attempts in our native languages, rather than a slap in the face. We hope.
It’s worth noting that for some reason, Danes (including people on Danish radio and also really young kids – even aged around 5-6) have adopted to swearing in English, using mainly the words f*ck and sh*t. This sounds incredibly rude to a British person, but to Danes, the words means very little so they carry on and dollop a good unhealthy dose of F*ck and Sh*t in their every day language. To most ex-pat Danes returning to Denmark after a few years in Blighty, this means there is a month long period of re-adjustment where they spend most of their time in toe-cringing situations when the guy at the local super market uses the word f*ck to describe being out of bacon flavoured crisps. It is entirely normal, though, to swear in English in Denmark.
Because it has no meaning in the Danish language, kids also swear at school, at home and to their grandmother – in English. They’d likely never do it in Danish, though.
You may encounter the expression “f*ck dig” which is the Danish way of saying ‘f*ck you’, except in a way that doesn’t really mean anything.
Yes, we know. Un-curl those toes now, it is perfectly normal.
All three languages have many similarities in their daily swearing and it is easy to see how connected we all are when you look at our less nice ways of saying things.
And that concludes our short helpful curse guide. We accept no responsibility for people getting annoyed with you for swearing in our languages.
October 16, 2014 | 49 Comments
So, if you happen to work next to one of us and we have irritated you by borrowing your stapler one too many times, here are little ways you can get back at us.
Scandinavia is Denmark, Sweden and Norway. That’s it. Different countries, different languages, different cultures with some similarities. Finland is sometimes included, but officially, it’s not really Scandinavia.
And no, it’s not because we are small countries, either – you can fit the UK into Scandinavia about five times. So why do you still insist on telling us we’re all the same?
Because we don’t like dirt being dragged all over the house. Except when there’s a party (although, please ask first and never wear heels on our nice wooden floors).
When you go to a Scandinavian house, expect to remove your shoes in the hallway. It will happen, unless we’re feeling too polite to mention it (unlikely: we’re quite direct, if you hadn’t noticed).
We drink more coffee than anyone else in the whole world. More than the Italians, more than the French… More than anyone. By quite a massive stretch, too.
We drink tons of it. Strong, delicious filter coffee. And we don’t understand why you can only have one cup a day when our veins are constantly pumping like a bad Basshunter tune. In short, we’re wired from morning to night.
Far, far away. Not even neighbours.
Switzerland is Central Europe. They speak 5 languages, none of which are even close to Swedish. Nothing to do with ABBA or Volvo or blondes.
We will win that discussion. Even if you fight it, we will win it – passionately. There is no way you can win an argument with about the benefit of single taps. We invented Ikea, we are the kings of common sense design.
And don’t start on the carpet in the bathroom…
This is such an important point, even though it only really affects Norway. KitKats are so not even close to Kvikklunsj. Don’t compare them, don’t tell us KitKats are superior. Don’t go there.
Without Eurovision, you’d have no songs to dance to at the office party. No Dancing Queen, no Mamma Mia, no Money Money Money. Don’t knock it: We gave cheese to you guys. Be grateful.
Yes, of course we do. And also roaming the streets of Copenhagen. Some of us keep them as pets, next to our penguins.
Say ‘bork, bork, bork’ and we die a little bit inside.
I don’t? And you don’t look Welsh, either.
Wonderful. Read point one.
We have lunch between 11 am and midday, if you let us. We just do.
Try not to interfere with our weirdness about breaks. This also includes trying to interfere with our need for coffee breaks (fika breaks) at least twice a day: One must make time for cake & coffee breaks.
Because, trust us, we WILL answer. In great detail and we don’t understand how to read your polite British nods of evil as we explain about our dodgy knee.
You don’t want to know about out knee? Don’t ask us, we won’t mind. It will remove a lot of social awkwardness for us if we just skip the ‘how are you’ bit.
Yes, and we feel cold. Just like you. Our veins are not made of ice, they are filled with hot Basshunter coffee, remember?
Every day, all the time, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
(Just kidding: we only eat herring for lunch).