Friday, August 28, 2009
What Gets Lost In Translation
For starters, "please" and "excuse me." The Danish don't have words for them. I think it's pretty revealing, but Danes use a word, "undskyld," AFTER they've pushed or shoved you or what have you. That's the norm. I've been using unskyld a lot more than the average Dane, but I'm also a lot more clumsy than the average Dane. I also have no idea if anyone's heard it yet, since I'm a bit freaked to use Danish so it comes out both soft and, quite probably, completely wrong.
It's pronounced something like "ooun-skuhld." Yeah, try that one on for size.
I keep wanting to say "please" and "thank you," and that makes you stand out as a foreigner. They do have a word for "thank you" -- tak. The Danes sort of just toss it off, as a really short syllable, "tahk" or "tek." My prolonged "ahh" sound is a dead giveaway, as is my tendency to try for "thank you very much," which most Danes wouldn't bother with. I said "tusind tak" (thousand thanks) to a Danish barista today at a cafe near my flat and she looked at me suspiciously and said, "Already very clever." This was likely an example of the local pastime, dry mocking.