Danish People’s Party MP Alex Ahrendtsen recently proposed that the Danish Language Board should be given the additional responsibility of not just monitoring the evolution of the Danish language, but guiding it as well.
“The language keeps evolving as it always has, but when the evolution is going in the wrong direction, we must counter-act it. It is a shame that the Danish language is in a state of decline when we can do something about it,” Ahrendtsen told Berlingske.
Ahrendtsen referred in particular to what he termed “Pizza-Danish” – meaning the sort of Danish that is often spoken at pizzerias, where words and phrases from Middle-Eastern languages are often utilized due to the ethnic backgrounds of the staff.
“It’s simply because they don’t know how to speak proper Danish. The Language Board should of course document that this is the way a certain part of Denmark speaks – but it’s poor Danish,” he said.
According to the Ahrendtsen, the Danish People’s Party would like to see the Language Board take an active role in establishing what proper and improper Danish is by being granted the responsibility of promulgating its correct usage.
Venstre MP and Minister of Culture Bertel Haarder said that he agreed that the Language Board should take a more active role in the evolution of the Danish language.
“I’ve often thought myself that the Language Board could be a little more normative, but not to the extent that we do not allow the language to evolve at all,” Haarder told Berlingske, pointing out that the corresponding institutions in Norway and France among other countries have less passive responsibilities than the Danish Language Board.
See also: 'We have language anxiety in Denmark'
But it is just not possible to influence the evolution of the Danish language, according to Jørn Lund, head of the Danish Language Board.
“People seem to think that someone sitting in an office in Copenhagen can just change the Danish language, but those of us who have worked with languages for years know that it is extremely difficult to do so,” Lund told DR on Tuesday.
“We can’t just say to people that they are no longer allowed to use foreign words and phrases anymore and that we’re putting an end to the influence of English. We pick the battles that can be won.”
The Local spoke with Ahrendtsen in June about his short-lived proposal to tax the use of English words in advertising, where he argued that the growing influence of English is a concern that more politicians should share.