Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conversation stoppers

When my younger brother was much younger than he is now, he had this really adorable habit of answering the phone, "Hello," and if it wasn't anyone he knew, setting the handset down on the counter and wandering away. I imagine this annoyed telemarketers and charities to no end.

I am always trying to be polite to these people, because we all need jobs and frankly, they are far better than car salesmen (apologies to readers who are, but the next time one of you slimy bastards oozes up to me and tries to sell me something with a sun roof when all I want is to know is the gas milage, I swear on a stack of Danish dictionaries someone is going to learn the definition of "smerte").

Anyway I had the following conversation yesterday:
Phone rings.
Archaeogoddess: "Hello?" (I never answer the phone with the proper Danish greeting, it just does NOT come out of my mouth until after "hello" and most of the time not even then.)
Danish woman: Garble garble garble garble garble....
AG: *interrupting* Oh, um, jeg kan taler lit dansk. ("Oh, um, I can speak little Danish.")
Danish woman: Oh. Kender du Fotex og Bilka? ("Do you know Fotex and Bilka?")
***Quick aside: Fotex and Bilka are Safeway and Walmart-ish stores***
AG: *slightly confused as to where this conversation is leading* Fotex and Bilka? (Interior monologue: crap, if she wants directions she's got another thing coming, I have NO idea where Bilka is other than NOT IN DOWNTOWN ÅRHUS.)
Danish woman: *switching to English in frustration* Did you get the advertisement (pronounced the British way: ad-VERT-is-ment) for Fotex and Bilka this week?
AG: (Interior monologue: why did you lose yours? Is there some sort of mysterious shortage of Fotex and Bilka flyers?) *still confused* I don't know.
Danish woman: *detectable note of rising frustration* You don't KNOW?
AG: *happily, because I am finally able to add something intelligent to the conversation* No, when I get ads I just throw them all away!
Danish woman: *quickly realizing this is a lost cause* Oh, never mind then, thank you! *hangs up*

My husband points out that we have a "no, thank you" on our mailbox so we don't get those ads. The ads I'm throwing away every week are those that come through the mail and are in the newspaper. Don't ask me how we can request that we don't receive ads and then still get ads anyway, I'm a stranger here myself. (And please don't explain to me why this happens in the comment section, this mystery of Danish commercialism is filed under "don't really care.")

Other conversations of note:

After a long day, following a previous night of restless and intermittent sleep, my husband and I, exhausted and quite out of our heads, retired to the bed. As one does, I put my head on his chest.
Danish Boy: Your head is really heavy.
AG: That's because it's full of smarts. *Moves head* You know, a head only weighs 8 pounds, the same as a baby. I'm just trying to toughen you up for when we have one.
***Quick aside: Before you all get excited - NO, I am NOT pregnant and NO we are not trying, so stop bouncing in your seat and waving your hands about excitedly.***
DB: Yes, but a baby is all spread out and not round like a ball.
AG: My head is not round like a ball.
DB: Okay, like a cheese then.

Normally, I do not mock my husband's accent and normally I do not correct his pronunciation as long as it is close enough to be understood. This is because 1) I think it's rude to correct pronunciation if it's just slightly off and 2) I really HATE it when people do it to me. However, it seems I need to work with him on a few small things, like the letter V.
DB: I had some nice people in the cab today.
AG: Oh?
DB: Two women and a little boy. The women were originally from Africa, but now one lives in New York, wore western dress and spoke English, and the other one spoke beautiful Danish and wore a whale.

***These conversations have been approved for posting by my husband, who is beginning to have dreams of me becoming a world famous blogger who will be able to support us both with my cunning wit and mad typing skills.***


  1. this reminds me of a funny conversation i had recently. some old drunk danish guy calls me up. i answer in english, he talks in danish, i say 'im sorry i think you got the wrong number', he keeps on talking and then i try to say it in danish and then he starts to insist i continue the conversation in danish and gets really mad when i switch back to english again. it was really weird.

  2. LOL! Weegies say whale and Wegas and...oh, the v's crack me up. I love their accents, I really do. Especially how Norwegians don't have the "th" sound, so they pronounce it as a hard d or t sound. Like Sverre chasing the dog around after it's stolen socks and calling him a "naaasty teef."

  3. Hahaha....I especially love the last one, because Peter is always pronouncing his V's and W's and there are times I still have to translate for him when he is talking to someone that isn't used to his accent.

    I found out the other day that Danes cannot pronounce artichoke.

  4. My boy, for many years thought people said "making hens meat'.He assumed it meant being so poor u only ate chicken and not a good cut of beef or some shit like that. ha ha. He only very recently read the written version "making ends meet'. I am not as nice aa you though, I tease him about it mercilessly.

  5. Anonymous2:10 PM

    .......ok I don't get it. What is that person wearing? Can't be real whale, right? LOL

  6. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Speaking about pronunciation, my boyfriend always forgot how to pronounce "flood". He always say "flod" with o as in u in Danish and the soft d. Funny

  7. @ the Writer: She was wearing a veil. :-)

  8. Anonymous6:22 PM

    HAHA! I've had sooo many tutorials to teach my now husband AND my ex-boyfriend the proper pronunciation of Darth Wader. They just CAN not do it. I've given up.

  9. haha what strange and funny experiences you've gone through!

    part and parcel of settling and living in a foreign land!

    but they do make life more interesting!


  10. I got a call yesterday, I ran from what I was doing (locking the door). The man started up in Danish. I said "I don't speak Danish" and he said "Is there anyone in the house that does?" and I thought that was pretty rude (is your momma home, honey?) and I told him no and then he JUST HUNG UP.
    What ever happened to "sorry to disturb you, bye bye" even in Danish?

  11. Ohhh the V thing drives me nuts as well - we happen to drive a Wolwo.

    The other thing that makes me crazy is saying the English words with the emphasis on the wrong syllable, which is virtually impossible to explain via writing, but trust me, it'll make you crazy~!

  12. Ah - wearing a whale. Just like we have Darth Wader over here in Sweden!

  13. @ Patti: Whenever that happens I say (if the person is married to me and therefore can handle the humor) "I think you put the em-PHASIS on the wrong syl-LA-ble." (Had to explain it the first time, though, "Well, you see, you are supposed to say "EMPH-asis, but see, I said em-PHASIS, and then you're supposed to say SYLL-able, not syl-LA-ble, so really I was saying 'You put the emphasis on the wrong syllable' funny, yes? YES??")

  14. @arch - that's one of my favorite sayings! It's how I normally tell people they can learn to speak Danish - just take every danish word, change any 'c' to a 'k' and any 'ph' to an 'f' and then put the em-PHASIS on the wrong syl-LA-ble. Voila - you're speaking Danish.

  15. This is PRECIOUS!!! I love it when I am not the only one thinking I am saying something totally right and finding out I am saying something that elicits GIGGLES!


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