“It would have felt awkward if my mom would have come on this trip as well,” the girl said to me. “It’s so embarrassing! No one ever understands what she is saying”.

I was talking to one of my son’s classmates. Her mom is originally from Southern Jutland, where people apparently speak an unclear and incomprehensible kind of Danish called Sønderjysk. I always thought that Danish is Danish, whether it is spoken in Sønder Jylland or København, but since last weekend I know better. My son’s classmate explained to me, that even though Denmark is a tiny country with few inhabitants, there are huge regional differences in pronunciation.

I told the girl that I come from a place even more south than Southern Jutland and tried to convince her of the fact that my accent is even more peculiar than her mom’s. But she didn’t agree with me. Of course it is very well possible that she was just being a teenage girl. Having one at home, I know all too well how teenage girls tend to find everything mom does or says awkward and embarrassing. But I prefer to believe that she really meant to say that my Danish is more understandable than her mom’s 🙂

This conversation took place on a school trip with my son and his classmates. Together with four other moms, one dad and a bunch of overexcited eleven-year-old kids I spent the night in a dilapidated little scout cottage in the middle of nowhere. One of the dormitories had mold on the walls, some of the beds were broken and the kitchen looked pretty worn-out, but the atmosphere was incredibly cosy. We had candles and board games, wine for the parents and candy for the kids.


Not only did I learn about Sønderjysk last weekend, I also picked up a new word: jordemoderkaffe. Some words you just don’t learn at Danish class. You have to get out in the real world to get exposed to them. I had never heard the word jordemoderkaffe before, but I understood immediately what it meant: a coffee so strong that it will keep even the most exhausted midwife (jordemoder) awake.

Even though I don’t drink coffee, I just love this word! It contains two times a blød d, but is nonetheless easy to use. Thanks to the Danish habit of swallowing half of the words, the word jordemoder is namely pronounced as “jormor”. Smart Danes! Swallowing the most difficult part of the word!

I am glad I went along on my son’s school trip. I had a great time. 24 hours of Danish immersion have noticeably increased my knowledge about dialects in Denmark and on top of that enriched my vocabulary with a lovely new word.



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