”That’s a good vending. Maybe we can use that in another afsnit” er en af nissen Fritz’ mest brugte vendinger i ”The Julekalender”. Men hvordan står det til med øvrige danskeres engelsk?
Her på redaktionen har vi været helt overbeviste om, at vi talte perfekt engelsk, indtil vi læste Kay Xander Mellish bog ”Top 35 Mistakes Danes Make in English”. Kay mener nemlig, at danskere ofte taler deres egen kultur ind i alt, hvad de siger på engelsk. Her mener hun eksempelvis dansk selvironi, jantelov og faste veninder, som ikke altid duer på fremmedsproget. Med bogen håber hun at kunne give danskere en kærlig håndbog i, hvordan de undgår de værste fejl både privat, på rejsen og på jobbet. Derudover ønsker Kay at give danskere mere selvtillid, når de taler engelsk.
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Forfatteren er bosat i København og arbejder som selvstændig kommunikationskonsulent. Kay postede et par populære jokes om danskernes ’danglish’, som er danske undersættelser af engelsk, på sin LinkedIn-profil, og det er altså heraf, bogen er opstået. Efter 16 år i det danske erhvervsliv vurderer hun, at hun kender alt til de mindre heldige fejl, der opstår, når danskere taler engelsk. Vi skal vist lige læse bogen igennem igen, inden vi drager på sommerferie, så vi undgår komiske scorereplikker, når vi spotter en lækker bartender på Mallorca 😉
Her kan du læse et uddrag af bogen:
“Saying ‘I’ve tried’ to describe unplanned experiences
When Danes want to show empathy with someone in trouble, they often say I’ve also tried that to indicate they’ve had the same experience. For example, I’ve also tried breaking my leg.
This translation of Jeg har også prøvet doesn’t work in English unless it’s something you actually made an effort to do and failed. I’ve tried finding a husband, but every guy I’ve asked has turned me down.
For unfortunate incidents that were unintentional, like the broken leg, you can show empathy by saying That’s happened to me, too.
On the other hand, when someone else has had a positive experience, you can say you’re happy for them. “I’m happy for Mike. He finally got a chance to run the Copenhagen Marathon.”
It’s not correct English, however, to say that you are ‘happy for’ random objects in your own life – I’m very happy for my new running shoes. To a native speaker, that sounds like your shoes have a life apart from you that is going very well. Perhaps they are running the marathon alone.
I really like my new shoes is a more natural phrasing.
Mixing up ‘personal’ and ‘private’
Privat in Danish means things of a non-work related nature, such as a home address or a non work-related friend.
But in English, things that belong to you alone are personal, like your personal possessions or your personal space. The word privatehas the flavor of something you want to conceal.
You might make a personal call from the office to your wife to tell her you’ll be home late. Then you could sneak into the printer room and take a private call from your mistress, telling you where to meet her.
Thinking ‘competent’ is a compliment
To say someone is kompetent is high praise in Danish; it is faint praise in English.
Competent describes someone who can do a job, but only to its minimum requirements, and it is never a glamorous job.
You hear about competent secretaries or competent plumbers, but no one is ever a competentscientist, movie star or U.S. president. (Although a U.S. president is likely to be called incompetent by her political opponents.)
Skilled or capable are good words to compliment a worker in English. On a similar note, kompetencer is fine in Danish, but competencies is clumsy English; skills or capabilities sounds better.
Confusing ‘learn’ with ‘teach’, or ‘loan’ with ‘borrow’
At lære is flexible enough to cover both teacher and student; jeg har lært at spille, hun har lært mig at spille.
In English, this flexibility disappears: usage is broken into learn and teach, and they are not interchangeable. She taught me to play golf. I learned to play golf.
The same applies for at låne, which in English is split into lend and borrow. I can’t borrow you my golf clubs. I can lend you my golf clubs or you can borrow them.
Interestingly, the direct translation loan works either way. I can loan you twenty bucks for drinks at the clubhouse after golf, or you can loan me your clubs so we can play a few more holes first.”