Communication in so many words

January 30th, 2015

This article is more than 8 years old.

Islamophobia is once again an issue.

Dansk Folkeparti MP Martin Henriksen has advocated for a boycot of the supermarket chain Føtex for advertising the sale of textiles in Sønderborg in southern Jutland in Arabic.

Considering that a number of Syrian refugees have recently arrived in wintry Sønderborg with little or no luggage, that might on the face of it seem logical from a commercial point of view.

Henriksen, however, felt this was yet another un-necessary consideration being extended to the Islamic minority – which now stands at 400,000, although not all of them speak Arabic, or at least as their mother tongue. Hopefully he will learn there are better ways to communicate than cutting off dialogue, but beyond the obvious Islamophobic issues, it also raises a question about language.

Unwise fear of languages 
It is often claimed that Danish is not the easiest language to learn. Not only because of the pronunciation and grammar, but often because it is not easy to practise as most Danes like to air their English whenever they can, thus leaving it to the foreigner to understand broken English instead of the Danes learning how to understand broken Danish.

If you believe the Bible, Jesus enabled his apostles to transcend language by way of the Holy Spirit so everyone they spoke to could understand them!

Since then attempts have been made to simplify this worldwide problem. Latin dominated in the medieval period, French was of course the lingua Franca of the renaissance, Esperanto failed to succeed and now it’s imperial English’s turn. It is a megatrend, which means that it will prevail no matter what you do.

PM’s unclear motives
The PM said in her new year address to the nation that refugees should be put to work – but learn Danish first. We wonder what made her say that. 

We know that we have about 60,000 eastern European workers in Denmark. The general observation is that they do not speak Danish but get along with a poor but workable English, which also serves as their common language since Russian went out of fashion. It’s common amongst most refugees.

Embrace English!
Communicate as best you can, we say. The more languages the better.  But we need to institute English officially as the second language in the kingdom. For everybody’s sake.

At Sct Stefans Fritidscenter, an after-school club, they have children from more than 20 different nationalities and languages, and yet they all very quickly integrate to take part in group activities in their shared language:  Danish. So don’t you worry, Mr Henriksen!

The Danish constitution is in Danish, but it does not say that Danish has to be the only language. In courts the language is Danish or any other language that the court is in command of.

In the late 19th century, the Danish poet and philosopher Ludvig Holberg showed the way when he said that he communicated by speaking French with his mistress, German to his dog and Danish with his servant.  And no – he was not married.


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