My parents-in-law live in a little village in West Wales, the kind of place with only one of everything – one chapel, one garage, one fish-and-chip shop, one pub and one corner shop. And this little village, as luck would have it, has one of something else too – one Danish person, to be precise!
The Dane in question is Kirsten, originally from another little village herself, but one that is found some 40 kilometres from Aarhus. She and her husband, David, usually live in England but often come and stay next door to my parents-in-law for short holidays by the coast. A few weeks ago, it turned out that both they and I were in the same place at the same time and so, like some sort of linguistic matchmakers, my parents-in-law set us up with a meeting.
I was both eager to meet Kirsten and slightly terrified of making a fool of myself. However, I needn’t have worried as she was both easy to talk to, and a kind and patient conversation partner. She was initially very curious to know what made me choose to study Danish so, over tea and my mother-in-law’s delicious lemon cake, I explained the story I’ve already shared with you here. Then, she decided to move up a gear and stated that she would now try speaking some Danish with me – eek! Happily, she spoke very clearly and chose her words carefully and, to my great joy, I found that I was able to follow almost everything that she said! Hooray!
Then, her husband David popped over to join us. He had done an O-Level in Danish many moons ago and also spoke good Danish, so the three of us sat in my parents-in-law’s lounge and chatted away (or tried to, in my case!) for a while in Danish. It was exciting and fascinating for me, especially as Kirsten and David are both very interesting people with plenty to say, and we managed to talk about family, work, travel, languages in general and more besides.
As our conversation drew to a close, David leaned over and said to me, Det var en fornøjelse at møde dig, before looking over to his wife and checking, That’s right, isn’t it?. She nodded but, having never heard this phrase before, I looked a bit blankly at both of them! However, they soon put me out of my misery by explaining that this was the very handy phrase It was a pleasure to meet you in Danish! I immediately asked Kirsten to write this down for me on a scrap of paper so that I could learn it for future reference – but also so that I could say this now… Tak, Kirsten og David, det var en fornøjelse at møde jer.