A crash course in Danish – for fans of ‘Forbrydelsen’

The Danish TV-series Forbrydelsen (or The Killing as BBC has named it) has found a fairly big audience in the UK. The third season is making waves across Denmark and soon our friends across the North Sea will get their thrills. To get people warmed up The Guardian has made a crash course in Danish for fans of The Killing with Jesper Hansen from Scandinavian Studies at UCL (go UCL!).

The video is fun but the best part are some of the comments. Here are my favourites.

Gubl4kii: Jesper, A suggestion: please would you be able to speak the Danish phrases at a slower speed as well as at the normal/usual speed? It would really help! Mange tak!

Jon Østergaard Eilenberg: I hate to break this to you, but actually he is speaking very slow and clear. Normal speed would sound like a mumbling machine gun gone out of control.

I wonder how poor Gubl4kii feels now?

flake: I don’t think it’s actually possible to “learn” Danish. I often doubt whether the Danish actually speak Danish or not, I’m not sure but it might just be 5 million people trying to fool each other into believing that they understand what they’re saying to each other.

I’ve wondered about this too flake! My evidence confirms your hunch! Returning to you flake:

flake: …Yet still, I definitely feel that the whole language (as spoken) is one giant prank on foreigners (and that apparently includes the rest of Scandinavia too).
At least you have the fat tax. Gives me something to laugh about.
Lovely country.

Unfortunately, there is not so long for the fat tax now. So where does that leave us?

Vergilius78: – I dunno, to us Danes, almost all Brits sound posh and extravagant simply because you have far more tonal range in your language. Contrariwise, we sound depressed, insecure and uninterested to foreigners because we have so little ;-)

English has the tonal range but Danes have the vowels. Maltese has neither. Oh boy! No wonder I struggle.

Oh! And what Danes has this guy met? I wonder! Maybe he can send a few my way?

nuisverigeI thought I was the only non-Dane who actually liked the sound of Danish and enjoyed speaking it. I have no problem understanding spoken Danish, so long as they speak very distinctly, and nice and slowly so my brain can catch up.

And one question which has puzzled me for a long time puzzles halfdan as well:

halfdan: So somebody tell me why Danes can’t pronounce ‘Viking’ the English way? It always comes out as Wiking… The strange thing is that I used to teach this… “Say Viking”… “Wiking”, “Say ‘vej’”…”Vej”… “Now put the two together…vej and king”… “Wiking” ! I kid you not, this actually happened.

Interesting to see such a discussion going on about the Danish language on an English newspaper site. It seems as though The Killing guardian blogs for the previous series were quite heavy on Danish stuff too. So maybe I should keep my eyes open for the upcoming one. Can’t wait for the new series (subtitles and all).


2 thoughts on “A crash course in Danish – for fans of ‘Forbrydelsen’

  1. I love your link! I don’t know what I love more! The fact that the english newspaper makes something like that – the wonderful discussion or the great danish-lessons in the video – and best of all: How on earth did YOU find that?

    • How I found the video? Well, British newspapers are my main source of news, so it wasn’t that hard to come across it. It is, however, normal(ish) for British websites to provide a commentary to major tv programmes (be it X factor or Downton Abbey or anything in between), so wasn’t too much of a surprise. Glad you like it!

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