Danish MP lashes out against ‘Pizza-Danish’

A Danish People's Party MP has proposed that government efforts are required to counter what he sees as the decline of the Danish language.

Danish MP lashes out against ‘Pizza-Danish’
MP Alex Ahrendtsen. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix

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.

See also: Ex-MP fined for equating Muslims with Hitler

“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.

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Danish People’s Party plans comeback after election rout

After suffering a comprehensive defeat at the general election, the Danish People’s Party (DF) wants to take on a new role in the country’s politics – with leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl continuing at the helm.

Danish People’s Party plans comeback after election rout
Martin Henriksen (L) and Peter Skaarup of DF on election night. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix

Having acted as a support party for Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s right wing coalition government, a weakened DF will now sharpen its rhetoric and focus on its positioning as a party capable of protest, outgoing immigration spokesperson Martin Henriksen, who lost his seat in the election, told Ritzau.

Right-wing nationalist party DF went from 37 to 16 of parliament’s 179 seats following last week’s vote.

“We will look at whether there is anything we can do better. DF has gone from a party people see as a protest party to being seen as part of the system,” Henriksen said.

“We won’t go back to being purely a protest party but we must show that we can protest against the changes happening in society,” he continued.

Although he is no longer an elected representative, Henriksen has been tasked with leading a group responsible for developing strategy on DF’s core issues.

“If you look at DF’s programme, it is fundamentally about protecting the monarchy, the Church of Denmark and the family as the pillar of society. We must be better at showing this,” he said.

Henriksen said that the crushing election defeat could be attributed to the party’s failure to put across these positions strongly enough, as well as difficulties in gaining media attention.

“During the election, we tried – for example – to put out a criticism of Stram Kurs [extremist anti-Islam party, ed.], because they want to separate church and state. But that wasn’t possible, because editorial decisions were made at various media which stopped us getting our message across,” he said.

It was “harder to get traditional DF standpoints across,” Henriksen said.

The new group has already begun its work. Henriksen’s participation is on a voluntary basis, he said.

READ ALSO: Refugees to childcare: Five issues that could thwart talks to form Danish government