Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Warning: Danish alert

I hear Danish every day.
And not that I am an eavesdropper or a naturally nosy person, but I listen to all the Danish conversations around me (that I am not directly involved with) because that is the only way I can train my ear to understand all the 60+ dialects plus get all of those "talesprog" (conversation lingo) things that no one teaches you in grammar lessons! 
So I listen.
And I learn.
I always make little goals for myself based on what I hear and learn.
For example, I know that I will be a fully integrated Danish wife when I can finally remember to use "ikke også" at the end of about 50% of my sentences! I want to do that so badly ...just like the Danes do, but I can never remember! BUT Someday!

Anyway, in all of my listening and learning,  the last 2 weeks I have picked up on a word/phrase that EVERYONE uses allllll the time in his/her speech. However it is used in so many different contexts that I just had no hope of learning what it was. But seriously, I bet I hear it 100 times a day!

So today, I made it my goal to memorize some of the phrases where I hear it and go home and ask Mads what the heck it was because my wonderful high-level "use your context clues" skills were just not cutting it this time!

Here is how that conversation went:
Me: Ok, skat, there is this word I keep hearing all the dang time, but I have no clue what it is.
Him: Ok, what is it?
Me: I think it is something like "et landt".
Him: Can't be..that is not a word.
Me: Listen to me say it again...listen carefully because I swear YOU say it all the time, all my colleagues say it, my students say it, so you have to figure out what I am trying to say...."et landt".
Him: Seriously , I have no clue.
Me: Ok the way it was used in a meeting today was this "Et landt tidspunkt"..
And then the laughter began.
And continued.

Him: No wonder you have no idea what it is... it is really THREE WORDS that we have smushed into one, in the typical Danish way! What they are saying (and what I say all the time) is "et eller andet".
(as he continues to chuckle)

Me (sighing in exasperation, and holding my head in my 2 hands): WHY DO YOU PEOPLE DO THIS TO ME? There is no code book that tells me when to smush the words and which words to smush. How do you take the 5 syllables of "et eller andet" and get 2 syllables? Seriously? How?! 

Him (beating his chest like a cave man): Me proud Danish man. Don't need grammar. You foreigner can't know secrets! 

So all you Danish-learning udlændinge out there.... LISTEN UP! I know you are hearing this "sound" as often as I am... so now you know:

ET ELLER ANDET sounds like "et landt" but it means "THIS OR THAT", "ONE OR THE OTHER" or any other "you got two choices" kind of meaning you can use it for! I took the bullet for my fellow foreigners on this one! 

Now the rest of you get out there and crack the next "SMUSHED WORD CODE PÅ DANSK" and share it with the rest of us!  


May said...

Argh, please don't start saying "ikke også" as a default sentence ending, it is sooo annoying to listen to. ;)

Especially the people from Copenhagen and their "ik'?" it makes me want to spork them.

PiNG aka Patti said...

"Me proud Danish man. Don't need grammar." LOL

The ikke også drives me bonkers - it makes NO sense.

Anonymous said...

LOL! Reminds me of some of the dialects in Sweden up North... very hard to understand.

Skogkjerring said...

Norwegian women take what sounds like a deep breath in almost a "yes" word but without the actual word when they are agreeing with something, it's just a breath but it's like with that breath (and it's sucking air in- not pushing it out) you sound like you are agreeing with something...I apparently began doing that myself when we lived on the coast but I don't think I do it as much here because I don't notice as many doing it here...but they have different dialects here so I guess I've probably picked up something else here which I am not aware of!! It's all part of the fun of being a foreigner and trying to learn a new language at our ages!!! ;-)

Nuno said...

I'm surprised you didn't know what it meant. You will integrate a lot quicker if you immerse yourself in Danish society. It sounds like you're living a parallel existence, speaking Danish only when you have to.

MoMo 2.0 said...

OMG Amy, they do it here too!! Jess thought Mads had asthma at first... all that inhaling! LOL

May-lin, no worries... I will never be THAT Jysk! :-)

And Nuno, I speak Danish all day long. Not sure where you are getting your information from, but I am 100% in agreement that you must fully immerse yourself. Hope you are doing the same.

Nuno said...

I'm just saying that "et eller andet" is about as simple as it comes. I would have thought after a few months here, anyone would be able to get it. Apologies if you think I'm being pedantic.

MoMo 2.0 said...

No apologies...just wanted to be clear that I am not a foreigner who complains about the language but refuses to use it.... It was just one of those utterances that I always ignored because I did not need it for my comprehension. However, today, I realized exactly how many times a day I hear it!

May said...

I wouldn't say that the excessive use is as much jysk as it is...hmmm...difficult to explain. Just don't do it. ;)

Jon said...

Amy- I noticed that more in the Oslo area than Bergen, but I wondered about it. Thanks for some explanation!

The Blogless Sister said...

Ahem - as a native Danish speaker I feel it is my duty to inform you that the correct pronunciation of "ikke også" is "iggå". Or "eggå", depending on where you live.
Also, "slet ikke" should be abbreviated to "slek".


[go vigænd] from Århus (where I believe "iggå" is to be found at the end of approx. 67% of all sentences)

Anonymous said...

"...just wanted to be clear that I am not a foreigner who complains about the language but refuses to use it..."

OUCH! That's a bit below the belt.

Nuno said...

I don't understand how you could hear an expression all the time yet, fail to understand it, yet say you don't need to understand it. Surely hearing something all the time is reason enough to want to know what is being said?

The only way to really get Danish is to throw yourself into it 100%. That means you speak it 24/7, no matter what.

I promise you it will get better, though. Just keep it up, and you'll be fluent in no time. I always say it takes 1-year to get the basics, 2-years to understand the language, and 3-years to be fully functional.

MoMo 2.0 said...

I agree with you, but have you ever stopped to count how many EXTRA (somewhat useless) words & phrases that Danes have in their TALEsprog? If I tried to learn every word said, I would never get the content. I can understand 100% of every conversation I hear because I know the content, but I cannot tell you every word that is SPOKEN (although I just about can written) because there are so many unnecessary little udtryk that Danes include (especially in Jydsk) that foreigners don't stand a chance of really knowing for many years to come... it's like the unwritten social norms... you learn them as you are IN IT, which I am, but it takes time.

Every time I heard "etellerandet" as a Sound/grunt/whatever, I could still tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt what the person had said, but if I focus on each word, I will never be able to communicate back with them... at least not yet. Ask me in a few more years.

Kelly said...

I noticed the quick breath inhalation yes-noise that Danish women make a lot when I was living in Århus. I don't hear it as much here in Copenhagen. Danes don't understand what I'm talking about when I mention it. It's really strange.

Another phrase that took me a long time to figure out was "ikke engang" ("not even"), which in spoken Danish is abbreviated to "engang" (even), meaning the exact opposite! :-)