Danish Plumbers and lessons in Danish


So, as we were moving into our new apartment several days ago, we happened to turn on the kitchen tap to do something as innocuous as fill a glass with water, you know, to drink.  And the faucet hasn’t stopped running.

I’m slightly exaggerating, but it’s leaking pretty badly, running about 2 liters of water an hour, and since my dad the handyman still lives in the US (what’s that about anyway?) we had to call the plumber’s!

Our landlord and Andreas set everything up, but I’m the designated stay-at-home-and-wait-for-things person, and I did just that.  The appointment was for this morning at eight, but he dropped by yesterday just to see what he’d need to take along, and how to turn off the water and other important plumber-y things like that.  (And I found out how to work the buzzer!)  When he announced himself at the door, it sounded like gibberish.  It sounded like I have never learned or heard a word of Danish in my life, so I quickly told him I don’t understand Danish so well, and he switched to English.  I learned that our kitchen faucet is “bad….very bad…” which I already knew, seeing as the hot and cold water taps are backwards, the hot water handle is loose and wiggly and…you know…it leaks a lot.

Today he came at around the right time, and has switched back to Danish!  I can understand him much better for whatever reason (I think the Danish word for “plumber” which I’ve never heard before threw me off) and he’s there with our super in the kitchen clanking around and mumbling.  So far, I definitely like Danish plumbers.  He seems lovely and a bit jolly, and lets me abscond into my corner of the couch, and I haven’t seen his buttcrack once!

This was also my first real contact with a Dane who wasn’t part of my family, and it’s brought a few aspects of my language learning to light.  First of all, it’s a lot harder for me to understand people I don’t know.  I need to be more used to the rhythm of a person’s speech.  I can understand almost everything Andreas, his sister, and his mom say, most of what the rest of his family says, and maybe about half of what regular people say.  I’ve also learned that I’m not exactly sure how to be polite in Danish.  Polite is my default setting, and since I’m just learning Danish by ear, I think I’ve been learning pretty informal ways of saying things.  To make up for what might be too familiar or not the most polite speech, I smile a lot.  Now, I generally smile a lot, but I’ve noticed I smile a lot more when I speak Danish, just to get my point across that I am not grumpy or rude, and that it’s alright to laugh along with me as I stumble through my real-world Danish lessons.

And now the plumber is finished, and he even put on a whole new faucet and knobs!  How exciting!  Hmmmm….I just realized I got excited over a kitchen faucet, and the other day I caught myself paging through the grocery store ads without skipping straight to the candy page.  If this is what being a grown-up feels like, it’s not so bad after all.


3 thoughts on “Danish Plumbers and lessons in Danish

  1. I know that Swedish and Danish are pretty similar, so maybe this applies to Danish as well. The Swedish language is rudely straightforward. Some people find it refreshing, and others are easily offended by it because things are said very abruptly without the niceties. It’s just the way the language is, and it can sometimes be heard when a Swede speaks English. “Pass me the salt” instead of “Can you please pass me the salt, thanks” is a small example. It’s a difference that takes time to get used to, but Swedes (And Danes, I think) won’t hear or think you are being rude, especially if you are learning! Good Luck! Danish sounds tons harder than Swedish!!

    • Yeah, I think you’re exactly right about that! It’s weird that there’s really no word for “please” in Danish, but once I get used to it, it’ll feel more natural. I don’t think Danish is harder, just more…gutteral 😉 I’m just always a little paranoid about my Danish manners since this one time Andreas told me that instead of saying “Yeah, I know” I was really saying “duh, I know!”

  2. Well I basically never speak any Swedish but I do smile all the time as like a way to make up to people that I am speaking in English and I am sure they think I am off my rocker but I just cannot stop it!

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