Is your bottom an advantage?

Native Danes might not pay much attention when they talk to each other, but as a foreigner learning Danish you will soon realise, that the language contains some very weird expressions! Some are extremely illogical and quite entertaining.

Let’s have a drive in a Danish car: When we drive on the highway and another car is driving next to us, we sometimes say, that the car is “lying” next to ours. The same expression is used if you visit a car dealer and talk to him about the wheels – he’ll tell you that the car “is lying very well on the road”. When Danes are in the station they’ll ask when the train or bus “walks”, though both of them have wheels and drive/go. Expressions like these must end up in some weird imaginations for a foreign person learning Danish!

Another strange expression, which is also discussed among Danes, is “at åbne” (to open). Synonymous with this is “at lukke op” (to close up). An example of this is, that we use an “oplukker” (up-closer) when we open a beer; but a “dåseåbner” (can-opener), when we open a can. Open and close are antonyms – how did these ever get to mean the same? Good bye, logic!

In English we use the words “advantage and disadvantage”; and in German “Vorteil und Nachteil”. Both are logical – one is positive and one is negative. In Danish we’ll again say good bye to logic: Similar to German an advantage is called “en fordel”. If the language was logical, we would call a disadvantage “en bagdel” (since “for” and “bag” mean front and back). And we do actually use that word sometimes. But… “En bagdel” is also a word for butt or bottom. Hence Danish people might have a laugh if you, innocent foreigner, use that word.

Maybe your bottom actually is an advantage for you, but it might not help you learning Danish…

[Dansk]

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