Monday, October 10, 2011

Damn You Danish!!

I have a really hard time with certain sounds.  Vowel sounds, especially.

Danish is all about the vowels.  Silent consonants they have aplenty, but not so many silent vowels.  In fact, half the time Danish just sounds like a string of vowel sounds interspersed with sharp intakes of breath.  It's the perfect inverse of Polish.

Not that I know much Polish, apart from some choice swears and random animals, and I couldn't spell it to save my life... but... still...

Where was I going with this?

Right, so, there are a few Danish vowels that sound exactly the same to me.  Å, O, and Ø.

Danes will immediately tell you, no, they sound completely different.  They sound like å, o, and ø - DUH!

I spend a lot of time apologizing and saying "I just can't hear the difference!" and the Dane keeps saying "å - o - ø" again and again and all I hear is "o - o - o" and really, I JUST DON'T HEAR IT!  If the person over pronounces, THEN I can hear it, but since most Danes don't pause and over-pronounce the vowels in words, I'm often confused, or worse.

Confused because:
tog - train(s)
tåge - fog

Should someone tell me about one in the road, perhaps it would be a good idea if I know which one I should be looking out for.  Presumably I would see the train... but what if it was lost in the fog??

Worse because:
hore - whore
hår - hair
høre - to hear

Sometimes I tell people I cut my whores.

Sometimes a conversation with me goes:
Them: Did you hear what I said?
AG: I whore.
Them: Over-share much?



  1. Yeah.. I totally understand.. I mean seriously.. "mand", "mænd". For me it's the same thing, so.. I use context to figure them out/get them to figure me out. For me, høre is like the 'er' in herd (assuming you do the whole British silent l thing), or 'eur' in the French 'fleurs'.. But ø is the real thorn in my side since there are a million ways to pronounce it.. Sure, DB will drill ø, ø, ø into you,but that shit only works when you're reading the ALphabet (or spelling a word out). Case in point, "tøj". "fløj", etc.. Oh well... better you than me.. may the force be with ya!!!

  2. LOL @ I whore :D

    Look at the bright side, you got good career as entertainer :) Ever consider career in stand up comedy?

  3. And the bad part is that I know lots of Americans who have been here 10+ years and they STILL sound like us! :-)

    So you'll be WHORING it up for years to come! LOL

  4. Anonymous6:11 AM

    We English speakers just have to accept that we know about 9 vowel sounds while the Danes have more than 2 dozen. Their language contains all the ones we know, but they have several that don't appear in any common European language we would have learned when young like French, Spanish or German. They do have that unfair advantage over us learning English. As adults, we can learn to distinguish, but it takes much time. Patience! :) But of course you can always torture Danes in return with "z." Zircon, orzotto, zero, trying to hear them stuggle to be able to pronounce the "l" in palm. ;)

  5. Totally random, but I cannot get "lime" correctly at all. Because lime in Norwegian is...lime. Same word in English. But I keep saying "lim," and asking Sverre to run down to the corner shop for glue. Fortunately, he gets it.


Keep it clean, don't be mean....