It is easy for a tourist to get around Denmark without speaking Danish. Really, almost everyone does speak English. But since I am living here, I have found plenty of good reasons for learning Danish.
- When letters come from the bank or the tax office, it is tedious to type them into Google Translate.
- The Boy and I set off the emergency alarm in Ikea because I didn’t realize that it was an Emergency Exit door. Oops. And no, the sign was not in red. It was in green.
- I have been out socializing with people who speak Danish and they will prefer to speak Danish to each other. One of them will kindly turn to me and translate. But this conversational pattern gets old and makes me feel dumb.
- I want to be able to follow the local news. God forbid that there would be a major emergency that would need my attention – I would really be screwed. But even a minor matter such as bad weather or a water main break would be beyond my scope of comprehension.
- We were on a train that had an unforeseen journey change. The announcement (in Danish of course) explained that we should get off the train at the next stop and then re-board on a different change. Needless to say, we did not get off the train. Our mistake ended up adding several hours to our journey. And the conductor fussed with me. And I had to get re-ticketed. Not fun.
- I want to help The Boy practice Danish. He is super-eager to learn. Danish children begin learning English around age 10 or so. Consequently, The Boy is often maneuvering through a world where everyone does NOT speak English. He of course learns faster than me:)
“But Danish is HARD.”
I hear this all of the time. Is it meant to discourage me? I don’t know. Do I think that Danish is hard? Yes and no. I can only compare it to studying Spanish, the only other language that I have ever really attempted to learn.
- The grammar is not difficult. It is quite similar to English. And the verbs are delightful! They are the same for each person: “Jeg er, du er, han her = I am, you are, he is.” Compared to Spanish the verbs are SIMPLE.
- Pronunciation is a beast. Like French, there are lots of silent consonants. Looking at the written word gives only little clues to the pronunciation. By comparison, Spanish is just about always pronounced as it is written. Someone pointed out to me that even Danish children have to work really hard to learn their spelling. Somehow, this made me feel better! But my situation is reversed. I tend to encounter the written word first then have to figure out how it is said.
Well, that is enough for now. In a future blog post, I will explain my study methods and blog about my progress.