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Something rotten in the state of Denmark, or revenge on the Jutes some 1600 years late

Or so it would seem, as the Danes are rather concerned about English undermining Danish language in those parts, to the extent that "parliament [is preparing] to debate a bill that would legally secure the Danish language's status as the language of Denmark, ensuring that all correspondence, public speeches and meetings are held in only in Danish". While the proposal comes from one of the anti-immigration parties, it is also notable that "in schools..130 of the nation's 329 educational programmes offered are taught in English". I would suspect that they are using schools in the US sense of higher education establishments, but even so.

For many years I have reckoned that the less spoken languages of the Nordic and Low Countries would end up on life support systems within my lifetime, as with English being the language of popular culture, science, commerce and just about everything else it will be increasingly difficult for Swedish, Dutch and the like to be usable much beyond the home and in day to day matters. Some years back a friend was studying Swedish at university, and had to spend a term in Sweden, where he was fighting a constant battle to get his fellow students to speak Swedish, which they thought it was pointless to learn.

While I can have a good snigger about the likes of L'Académie française attempting to cook up new words to counter 'illegal imports' of English, the prospect of a language being killed off as a living thing is considerably less laughable, as that would break the link between a population and its culture and render it unintelligible. Let is trust that there will continue to be nothing like a Dane....

The only Danish word I can think of is hygge, which is notoriously unrenderable in English, but suggests something along the lines of cosiness, especially in a group.

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Anonymous verity said... 2:27 pm

Don't let tony blair know about this. He has stolen everything else about our national identity and our sense of ourselves as a nation from us. Don't give him any ideas or he will outlaw the speaking of English and make Urdu or Somali the national language and the language of parliament.

Tony Blair absolutely must not find out about the loss of the Danish language. He would love it!

I hate tony blair so much I cannot think of any cruel twist of fate he might suffer that would satisfy me.  



Blogger dearieme said... 6:59 pm

A chum sent us an announcement card from Stockholm once, thinking that it would flummox us. But the phrasing used, while doubtless good Swedish, was essentially identical to Scots and therefore entirely transparent. The Danes and their cousins could do worse than recall that Scots survived as the tongue of the Law Courts well into the nineteenth century, and the tongue of the playground into the twentieth.  



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