Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Learning Danish By Listening (Part II)

2013-08-25 10.43.51 In addition to my blog post the day before, another opportunity to learn Danish expressions by listening to Danes speak English is to be vigilant about phrases they use that might be grammatically correct but doesn’t make any sense at all. For example, while we were in a middle of a conversation in English, a Danish friend emphatically shouted, “Yeah, if you don’t like the smell in the bakery…!” HUH? We weren’t talking about any smell, of any bakery or otherwise. We looked at each other and said, “That must be a Danish expression that you directly translated into English.”


“Hvis du ikke kan lide lugten i bageriet, kan du bare gå (if you don’t like the smell in the bakery, you can just go)” or you can substitute the last clause to your liking, though the expression is common enough that it’s understood, and therefore is not often completed.

It’s the equivalent of “if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, get out”, but like many idioms, the Danish version doesn’t make much sense. Who doesn’t like the smell of bakeries? But perhaps that’s the point. You should like it, and if you don’t, there’s something not right about you.

Yay, another Danish idiom committed to memory.

Other intriguing expressions that can’t be translated literally from other parts of the world can be found here. The Swedish one about “there’s no cow on the ice” is also used in Denmark. Hungry for more Scandinavian idioms? Check them out here.

Photo: Pastries from a Danish bakery chain, Lagkagehuset

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This entry was posted on June 28, 2015 by in Culture, Denmark, language and tagged , , .
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