Saturday, February 07, 2009
That brings me of course to Danish...
When I shared an office with Thomas as mates 6 years ago, I used to listen to him on the phone sometimes to see what I could pick up. He'd mail me the odd link to newspaper articles and with a lot of concentration I could get the gist of them mainly through my very rusty knowledge of Swedish. Over the years I got better and better at reading it but because it isn't pronounced anything like it is written (it is even worse than English and that is saying something), I found it hard to draw the parallel between a written word and its spoken form. For instance the word meget sounds more or less to me (and my French speaking kids) like the French word mal. So why the hell do those weird Danes spell it meget???
Finally, now into my third year of living with a Dane I understand! I know what the written words mean in the newspaper, and when Thomas and his parents sit round my table talking I can follow that too. Result!!!
There are only two problems.
The first is pronunciation. Danish is full of weird sounds and Danes are used to speaking English and less used to English-speaking people attempting Danish. On the odd occasion I attempt a Danish word with Thomas or mention any of his friends by name - he completely demoralizes me by looking totally blank as if I have attempted martian. I mentioned the other day I had been speaking to Lykke on facebook. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Ok, I didn't pronounce it wonderfully but as someone who has tried other languages, French and Germans understand you but laugh no matter how badly you pronounce their language. Danes just look blank. I guess they just aren't used to us foreigners even saying hello :-(
The second major obstacle, and the only point I totally lose the conversation when listening to Danes round the table is numbers. Danes have some weird names for numbers - they are nothing like Swedish or German or English. I have no comprehension whatsoever of Danish numbers. I know the sounds - so I know when they are discussing prices or ages, I just have no clue whatsoever which number they are talking about.
I think I'll start a campaign for a Danish spelling and number reform. And maybe I'll also try to get Thomas to understand foreigners might try a wee bit harder to pronounce it, if he tried a wee bit harder to understand bad pronunciation of Danish!