How to stop Danes from switching to English

Simple Danish Newsletter #7

Hi friends,

We hope you are having a great week 😊

Embarking on the Danish language journey is no small task, and it comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when you find yourself amidst Danes who switch to English at the slightest detection of an accent or struggle in your pronunciation. It’s a well-intentioned gesture, sure, but it can put a damper on your quest to master Danish, and it can be quite frustrating when you are purposefully trying to practice!

I remember being at an after-work gathering with a few students some years back, where I met a Spanish student who was remarkably good at Danish, despite being in the country for less than one year.

At some point in our conversations, someone tried to switch the conversation to English, but he stopped them and politely asked if we could continue in Danish.

That got us talking about how he had become so good at Danish in such a short amount of time, and he mentioned insisting on doing two things: 1) Insisting to continue the conversation in Danish, and 2) not being afraid of asking what words he didn’t understand meant.

That takes guts, but I am sure it is part of why he was so successful in learning the language quickly. And once he had asked to keep the conversation going in Danish, everyone respected that. So I am also sure that if you ask the same, people will respect that decision too. Here are some phrases you can use to keep the conversation going in Danish:

  • Jeg vil gerne øve mit dansk, er det i orden hvis vi fortsætter på dansk?
  • Er det okay, hvis vi skifter (tilbage) til dansk?
  • Kan vi fortsætte på Dansk?
  • Er det okay hvis vi ikke snakker Engelsk, men kun snakker Dansk?

And here are a few ways you can ask about the meaning of a word:

  • Hvad betyder “….” ?
  • Kan du forklare hvad “…” betyder?
  • Det forstod jeg ikke, hvad betyder det?

It might be scary, but if you embrace these strategies we are sure you will progress faster in your learning, and with time, who knows, Danes might take the hint and stop switching to English so quickly 😉

❤️ Our Favourite things

Our favourite Danish Comic Strips

By quite a margin, our favourite comic strip in Danish is the hilarious WulffMorgenthaler (Instagram, Website), created by Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler. Their comics are quite often over the line, grotesque, but still somehow relevant critiques of society. We think they are a great way to get better acquainted with Danish humour, and what’s up and down in Danish society. They sell a physical calendar, with one comic per day that we have been using for many years. It also makes for a great, small, Christmas gift.

Cooking videos we are watching

How does listening to Danish, and learning to cook Michelin-quality food sound? KøkkenFandango by René Mammen, Headchef at Substans, a Michelin starred restaurant in Aarhus, has been creating cooking videos on his YouTube channel for quite a while now. The Danish in his videos is not easy, it is fast paced, and they speak with a jutlandish Dialect to further complicate things. But the quality of the videos is great, and we can personally attest to the quality of the food in the videos, it is incredibly delicious!

Idiom of the week: Der hvor kragerne vender

Where the crows turn around is used to to mean the same as in the middle of nowhere, although I like the illustrativeness of the Danish phrase much more than in the middle of nowhere. It means somewhere so far away, that even the crows don’t dare go there. You can for example say; Rasmus er vokset op på landet. Der hvor kragerne vender. Or if someone asks you what you did this weekend, you can say: jeg var ude at gå en tur, helt derude hvor kragerne vender. Or if people ask you where you are from: jeg er fra en lille by ude hvor kragerne vender.

That’s all from us for this week. We hope you have enjoyed this week’s newsletter. You can let us know what you think by replying to this mail.

Have a great week 😊

Best regards,

Antonina & Rasmus