I have lived in Denmark 19 months, and I am afraid that my spoken Danish is getting worse....I would think that the longer you live here, the more people would be able to understand you, right? Well, for me, this is working in the opposite way. Each time I speak to a stranger in Danish, they answer me in English. Are they just incredibly polite, thinking they are helping me, or is my Danish just THAT bad???
I restaurant i fredags/In a restaurant on Friday:
(på dansk/in Danish)Vi har bestilt et bord- Mads Nørgaard.
(We have a reservation under the name Mads Nørgaard).
(på engelsk/in English) What was the name again?
(på dansk/in Danish) Jeg vil have nummer sytten og nummer tredive.
(på engelsk/ IN ENGLISH!) You want number seventeen and number thirty?
(på dansk/in Danish) Jeg vil meget gerne have en kop kaffe.
(på ENGELSK/in ENGLISH) Did you want that black or with cream?
I butik sidste weekend/In a shop last weekend:
Kan jeg hjælpe dig med noget? (Can I help you with anything?)
(på dansk/in Danish) Ellers tak. Jeg kigger lidt. (No thanks, I will just look a bit.)
(På ENGELSK! /In ENGLISH!) Let me know if you need something.
Skal min mund nogen siden lærer at tale rigtigt dansk???
Will my mouth ever learn to speak Danish the right way???
I think it's just politeness. I know, I have a tendency to switch to English if I hear someone is an American or a Brit, especially if it's a complete stranger. If we're meeting up with new friends, I usually ask what language I should speak in (like I did at Patti's place).
I think the best thing to do is to smile and ask people if they'd speak Danish to you so that you can practise.
I remember once shopping in Netto and not saying a single word whilst putting my items on the belt to be scanned. Imagine my shock when the assistant told me, in English, 'that will be 215 krone'!
How did she know I was a foreigner?!
People just want to show off that they can speak English. Just keep speaking Danish to them, regardless, and they will catch on.
They do the same things with me too! My Husband and his family claim it's because they get excited to be able to use/speak English and just want to be able to converse easy with us... not necessarily because we cannot be understood or whatever...
Take heart, darlin'!
At least they weren't rude and look at you like you were the monster from the planet zoltar or something like a Norwegian would do if you weren't pronouncing Norwegian correctly. They'd rather make you keep fumbling with the words then speak English to you...
It's so annoying, isn't it? Just keep on talking Danish... I think people are just trying to be helpful...
Oh my god, this is hilarious. I have had those weird conversations so many times! I can't stand it anymore, and I always follow up in Danish until the waiter/sales person feels so bad they switch back to Danish ;-)
I think they're being polite because I often switch to different languages when I know a person is not good in English or French. I have trouble speaking and understanding Danish...It hurts my brain.
Yes, it's one of those "You know you've been in Denmark too long when ..." things. Annoying isn't it? I once carefully explained the problem, in Danish, to a colleague, and his entirely unironic reply was "yes, that must be annoying". Delivered in English.
Ii think it's sweet, Kelli. Enjoy it! Your Danish will get better. At least you're not experienceing the wall-of-Danish syndrome.
What Kirstin said. And what May said. We get terribly excited at the chance of "airing" our English. Even the Queen admitted to having done Prince Henrik a "bjørnetjeneste" when she spoke French to him the first years they were together, just to be polite *and* practice her French.
Btw, what is "bjørnetjeneste" in English - a favour, which isn't a favour at all???
Now I, on the other hand, can't seem to get anyone to use English with me... maybe I'm just not trying it in the right places!
happens to me constantly but I wouldn't worry, I don't think they mean anything bad. I just continue back in Danish. But have you noticed that all expats can understand each others Danish perfectly, while Danes are always saying, 'Hvad siger du?'
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