Friday, January 29, 2010
The Danish language, by default, shouldn’t actually exist. It doesn’t sound like anything, for god’s sake. Well, if you really think about it, I guess it sounds like a cat throwing up. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. It’s kind of difficult to pay too much attention to the sounds of something when your personal happiness depends almost entirely on understanding what someone is saying for just one blasted second. But it’s seriously one of the hardest languages in the world. I’m totally serious. That’s probably why only 5.5 million people speak it. More people live in New York City than live in all of Denmark. I’ve lived in both places, and now I can say with some certainty, that I may be spending much of my life in the latter place. I don’t know exactly how I feel about that, only that I should feel something. I feel confused. I feel that I should understand, that I should revert to a prelinguistic stage with the ease of a child.
Let me just give you one example. My friend was in Danish class one day, and the professor called on her while she was chewing on something. She answered to the best of her ability with her mouth full. The professor said her pronunciation was quite good. Let me say that again. She sounded better WITH FOOD IN HER MOUTH than she sounded without. That’s fucked up.
The Danish word for rye bread is rugbrød. You have a better chance of pronouncing it correctly if you say mweorihokjh than if you actually try to say it. Trust me on this. And then there’s the insane specificity. I lived in a town for four months and never really learned how to pronounce it. I mean, you’d think that with a teeny tiny disctinction, say if I said VillOHah instead of VillOAH people would stil understand me. Kind of like people from New York understand people from Jersey. Maybe something like that. But it doesn’t work that way. They will just stare at you until you’re like, okay, I’ll spell it out. And then they get this look on their faces like OH! And they repeat the word and it sounds EXACTLY LIKE HOW YOU SAID IT BEFORE. And they say that they had no idea what you were talking about. Danish confuses me. I have to become friends with it. I have two books and tapes on my shelf, but there’s no one using them. When I try to speak Danish, Thomas just laughs. Kind heartedly, of course, but it’s not exactly encouraging. I need some support here, people.
Oh, and I didn’t realize that I was saying The English until I went home. As in, you speak the English? Ugh.