Language Shock – the Danish way!

On the sunny August of 2013 I found myself walking in the beautiful streets and alleys of Aarhus. My excitement was indescribable and I instantly knew that I could easily call this place home . Admittedly, it took me longer to realize the amount of weird that equals to the Danish language, even though I was given two chances.

Incident No. 1: When I realised, after some research, that Aarhus is not pronounced with a long “a”, but instead |ɒ:hu’s|. Uuum, what now?! It’s clearly an “a”, let alone two of them, how can this be possibly give an “aw” sound? And where did the “r” disappear to…?

Incident No. 2: I had just arrived in Aarhus, and had to ask the bus driver  where Banegårdspladsen is. What followed was two of the worst minutes of my life, with me, sweaty and exhausted, trying to pronounce that railroad of a word to a confused – yet incredibly polite – bus driver. Needless to say, he couldn’t understand what I was saying, and I couldn’t understand what he was saying, even though we were basically talking about the same address. And guess who pronounced it wrongly. Like, obviously. But the shock didn’t hit me there either, most likely because I was experiencing the “freshly-arrived-and-where-do-I-go-next” shock.

It wasn’t until a lovely Saturday afternoon, while I was sipping an iced coffee in a café by the canal, that I experienced this so-called language shock. I was discreetly observing Danes at the nearby tables and then, while I was focusing on a particular group of friends, it hit me. BAM! Language shock. What was that language? Why was it so guttural and mumbly?!

I said to myself: Calm down, Marina, it’s only the first contact with it. And calmed down I did. For that moment.


The place where it all happened #danishlanguageshock

After two weeks, I was perfectly comfortable with saying “Tak” and “Hej”. Still, I was shocked every time I heard Danes speak. But it sounds so aggressive! I said to a friend. Why is their language so unwelcoming? Why couldn’t it be more friendly, like its people!? My friend reassured me that I would get the hang of it eventually. I honestly didn’t think so. Whenever I would try to read street signs, or labels in the supermarkets, I would end up stomping my feet and sighing in disappointment. What I kept thinking, again and again, was how unbelievably great it is that this nation speaks really good English!

So there you have it, my first-ever impressions of Danish. At some point I think I was actually considering to form a group with people suffering from PDSD – post Danish stress disorder. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way! Let me know, it’s never too late to start one!

Vi ses,



3 thoughts on “Language Shock – the Danish way!

  1. So true – I once spended quite som time looking for a bus to a place with 2 L’s in the name, finding out later it was spelled with 2 D’s… Who knew 😉


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