Friday, March 11, 2011

Alas, I didn't go into labor yesterday...

So I had to take my Danish test.

This test was not the Last Danish Test, as in the one that I will have to take before I am free (FREE!) to be as lousy at Danish as I want to be.  This was the test that comes right before That One.  This one is the test that I took only 5 weeks after passing the previous Danish test, which was passed in a very Hail Mary Pass kind of way.

Which means I am fairly confident that I bombed it.

The tests are usually broken up into timed sections on writing, listening, reading comprehension and speaking.  One of my listening sections was about a dentist.  I needed to listen to what was said and answer some of the questions.  One of the questions was something about what was great about his school.  I think.  (Oh yeah, you always know you're going to do well on a test when you realize you don't actually understand the questions being asked.)

Anyway, I heard "comrade-ship" and "girls" - only now that I'm thinking about it... the word for "girls" is "piger" and there may be a Danish word for "peer" that is, well, pronounced "peer" which sounds to me like "piger" (the word for girls, remember) and that what he SAID was "I liked my classmates and peers" not "I liked my classmates and the girls."

Alas, the interpretation of that answer then colored ALL of my other answers. 'Cause this dentist sounded like a JERK.  I mean, WHO THE HELL SAYS THEY LIKED THE CHICKS AT THEIR SCHOOL??  (Apart from every self-proclaimed red-blooded male. [Public Service Announcement: if they actually call themselves a "red-blooded male" just save yourself some time and trouble, pour your drink over their head, hit them with your purse and GO HOME].)  Swear to god, after that I heard that answer, I heard that he liked owning his own clinic because he got to be the boss and he made lots of money.  The Ass!  Nevermind that the first answer I had given for that section ("Why does he like being a dentist?") was "he likes being able to help people who are in pain."

Poor dentist.  One misheard word and he goes from being a sympathetic character to my new nemesis.

Of course, I'm also biased having been subjected to a rather brutal dental cleaning recently.  It wouldn't have been so bad had I been to the dentist some time in the previous 5 years and had I not been 9 months pregnant (swollen gums - because EVERYTHING swells when you are pregnant - leads to copious bleeding).  Note: the dentist had to grudgingly admit that considering I was pregnant and hadn't had my teeth cleaned in 5 years... they looked fine and there were no cavities.  HA!

But the "piger" vs. "peer" error just highlights yet again the problem I have with Danish.  I just don't hear the difference between some words.  All those extra letters... and yet you don't pronounce half of the alphabet anyway and the other half ALL SOUND THE SAME!

On Wednesday in driver's ed I made a rather humorous mistake during the practice test.  I heard "should you turn on your headlights when there is a train?" And I answered "no" because, uh, duh.  But it didn't stick out as a completely stupid question because some of the questions on the practice test ARE incredibly stupid - "you see a girl on a bike in your lane, what should you do?  Should you speed up?  Should you pass her when it is safe to do so?  Should you slow down and follow her?"  Dude, you should TOTALLY slow down and follow her home and then honk and shout "hey baby, what's your star sign!!"  Wait, that wasn't an option?  Damn.

Anyway, the question was ACTUALLY "should you turn on your headlights when there is fog?" The answer, in case you were wondering, is YES!

Word for "train" = tog (pronounced toe)
Word for "fog" = tåge (pronounced toeh)

So the conversation during the answer part of the test went like this:
Drivers Ed Teacher: (in danish) Don't you turn on your lights when there's fog?
AG: (in danglish) No, of course not, that would be dumb.
DET: ???
DB: pssst...(in english)  Fog... we're talking about FOG!
AG: (in english) FOG?!? Oh, I thought the test said "Train"!
Class laughs, DB face/palms, I feel slightly vindicated because you do NOT turn on your headlights when you see a train, so really I was correct.  I WIN Y'ALL!
AG: (in english, under her breath to the DB) Well, how the hell was I supposed to know that - I haven't learned the word for fog yet!

At least this error made some form of sense.  A few weeks ago I missed a question (thank GOD this one occurred at home) because I heard "bamse" which means "teddy bear" instead of "bramser" which means "brakes."  Honestly, had I thought about it for a minute I'm sure I could have figured that out, because in a residential area "should you be prepared to use your teddy bear" really doesn't have ANY place in a driving test.  A test for pedophiles yes, but not for drivers.

Then again, this is DENMARK, it's all foreign and stuff.  Maybe that's just how they roll.  I mean, they think applesauce is a dessert, for crying out loud.  Eight YEARS and suddenly that stupid applesauce dessert people have been forcing on me makes sense now.  You put applesauce in a bowl, sprinkle toasted oatmeal on top and then squirt some whipped cream on top of that and then serve it to the American and call it "apple cake" and then wonder why she looks confused and then confusedly ask her "don't you eat apples in America?"  Seriously, maybe this is a country where you need to be prepared to use your teddy bear when you drive through a residential area.  Danish children tend to be suicidal maniacs running about in the street, perhaps rolling down your window and throwing a teddy bear in their general direction would distract them and you could drive away at faster than 5 mph.  And, by the way, OF COURSE WE EAT APPLES YOU IDIOTS!  WE DON'T SAY "AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE" FOR NOTHING!!!  But we eat applesauce with lunch or dinner.  As a side dish.  Yeah, crazy.  Like a fox.

Slowly I've learned that all the good food in Denmark is considered a dessert and you can only eat it after dinner.  Pancakes, æbleskiver, applesauce, pastries (like the ones Americans call "danishes"), and anything with fruit in it (other than yogurt, but only if the yogurt comes with the fruit already in it, if you add fruit, you may be making a dessert).  I often see Danes eating oranges as a dessert and to me, that's just balmy.  But then I've seen Danes eat potato chips (crisps to the Brits) as a side dish at dinner, along side a fine piece of roasted pork loin.  Yes, potato chips/crisps counted as the "vegetable" - not that all Danes see the point of having a vegetable with a meal.  Sometimes it's like the bloody Atkins diet around here.

So I've learned not to question the ways of the natives (the answer is always "but that's how we do it in Denmark" so really, why bother asking any more) which makes figuring out the driving laws sometimes a bit more complicated.  Especially when you hear either "garble garble garble garble" or you know, the wrong damn word that just happens to sound EXACTLY the same as another word.

At any rate, I'm going to make sure that I have my headlights on at all times, just in case of trains or fog (and the numbers two and twelve which ALSO happen to sound the same as "train") AND I'm going to start carrying spare teddy bears because YOU CAN'T BE TOO CAREFUL in residential areas.


  1. Heather11:52 AM

    Same problem - all the words (that one can hear) sound the same. Let's not even get started on pronunciation. For example, the poor girl at the bakery who thought I kept saying 'croissant' when I was actually saying 'kanelstang'

  2. Okay, now that I have finally finished laughing ...

    They haven't changed the test! I had that EXACT same weird dentist guy on my mod 4 test and I also thought I failed big time, because I really had trouble understanding anything that dude said. I did end up passing though and you probably will as well!

    On the other hand, I took my driver's test in English. There wasn't a chance in hell I was going through that nightmare in Danish!

    The side dish potato chips - does your danish family use those weird potato puff things? I believe they are called "menu" chips - it's like a potato chip that's been injected with air. Very strange thing that. And yeah, I don't get why it's served with pork and duck.

  3. LOL

    Thanks! That was my second great laugh of the day. I must go out an buy a teddy bear for my car.

    (first laugh was when Lia barked at the postman while having half a slice of toast in her mouth)

  4. Ha ha ha teddy bears! Loved that! Its true - you just don't know sometimes.

    In this part of Texas everyone drives with their headlights on all the time because supposedly its safer. Not just the regular headlights but the bright setting. All the time. The only time they turn them off is when it rains. Sigh.

    Whipped cream on applesauce? Eew. Though I must admit that adding heavy whipping cream to an apple pie (thus making a 'Dutch' apple pie) is heavenly.

  5. Everyone in DK drives around with their lights on all the time too - in fact most people think it's the law to have the lights on all the time. Only it's not actually what the law says. The law says you must have your lights on from sundown to sun up and when conditions are poor (such as when it's raining, snowing, overcast, foggy, etc.). Since the weather normally sucks in DK, it just makes it much easier to have your lights on all the time.

    Strangely enough, "cars" were the topic I chose to talk about for the second part of my speaking section and we talked about the headlight rule.

  6. You have to drive with the driving light all the time. If you don't have a driving light, then you have to drive with the short distance light. The sun-down to sun-up rule is for the short distance and long distance lights. After dark, you are not allowed to drive with your driving light. At least that's what I remember from when I took my license. :)

  7. Anonymous12:00 AM

    Danes don't actually 'eat' vegetables, they are used as decoration, shunted to the side of the plate, whilst they consume mega chunks of deceased animal, and then deftly disposed of into the garbage.

  8. Hmmm...that's quite a toss up as to which would be more painful, childbirth or the Danish test...Tell the Spawn that it's high time she gets her act in gear and makes her grand entrance into the world!

  9. Anonymous2:21 PM

    Dude, last night, I had a dream about being pregnant. Usually, when I dream about being pregnant (which is rare), a friend or family member totally drops a sprog.

    So? Any twinges? Any, you know, babies come out of you? xxx

    Btw, the dream was a nightmare. HTH.

  10. the-Not-So-Divine-Miss-M1:14 PM

    Always, always bring the teddy bears. They like to go for a joyride as much as the next person.

    I recently had a student describe his new-found strategy for pronouncing Danish as "Start out with gusto, then teeter out in the middle of the word. Same strategy applies to the overall sentence".
    All foreigners suffer from Danish (I wanna add an '-itis'), and danes suffer, too. I moved 350 km west of Copenhagen, and I occasionally have to turn my decoder ring a few notches to the left and stare stupidly at the mouth of some garbled jutlandian speaker in order to understand whether he's talking about preg-testing cows or digging out lakes (grawitsteståkør is almost the same as grawudtesør). And dude, I so don't want to know about either of 'em. Slap me with a teddy bear!

  11. ViViYaYa7:40 PM

    hmmm..... no post since the 11th. Perhaps the 'goddess' has dropped the Spawn. Hope all is well.


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