Hej. Jeg taler Dansk…Well, not well– not yet at any rate. I just started learning from this book that was originally published in 1974 but was editted and such around 2003 for another publication. Still, the book is pretty old looking and being a library book it is also very much falling apart. Luckily the Engelsk/Dansk dictionary I also checked out is practically brand new, so I have at least one stable reference. I was really hoping for audio resources though. I know what Danish sounds like spoken, but I can’t follow it because the written to the spoken is so strange. Written it looks like Swedish, but spoken it is totally different. The book tries to describe the pronounciation using liguistics terminology that I am only vaguely familiar with, so in that way it is somewhat useful. Still, I know that I cannot pronounce most of the words correctly. It is frustrating, but I chose such a far out language that there isn’t anyone locally that can help me, so I struggle in silence…
Or rather, I struggle in broken and mispronounced Danish.
For those of you who are curious as to why I’m even attempting to self-teach Danish the reason is a strange one. I challenged myself to create a character from another country- one of which I’ve never created a character from before and that I personally am mostly unfamiliar with- who has come to America and subsequently hates it. I wanted to pick a European country, since so many of my other characters hail from Asian ones, and I wanted to pick one that most people are unfamiliar with. My thought process for this was also strange, but logical I think.
European country = Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Nederlands etc.
I already have characters from: GB, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden.
I dislike the way Dutch looks when typed (it is an aesthetic thing), leaving: Switzerland, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Denmark
Greenland is too cold and distant; Switzerland doesn’t interest me this time; Icelandic sounds awesome, but is not supported through Google Translate.
I needed to change the character’s original surname Keyston(e) – which originates from the British Isles – to something else. A quick runthrough at my favorite naming resource Behind The Name brought about the name “Kjeldsen” which looks close enough to the original to not cause a ton of confusion and sounds foreign enough to spark interest.
Kjeldsen is Danish, so Denmark it is.
All of this runaround in an hour or so led me to wanting to learn more about Denmark and of course my curiousity of languages made me want to learn Danish. Conversational Danish, that is. I don’t have time to put myself into learning it full-time; plus I still take Chinese at school, so my focus should go there. But, enough Danish to use small, common phrases in the character’s dialogue from time to time, to show a habit of codeswitching when he loses patience.
So, basically I’m learning Danish for fun and enjoyment and not much else. I do find the language to be very interesting and I enjoy reading my book with its strange and redundant lesson dialogues (a paraphrase: “I am called Jens Hansen. I am a man. This is my wife. She is a woman and a mother to my children. I am her husband. She is called Lise. Strangers refer to us as Hr. Hansen and Fru Hansen”). Amusing, to say the least.