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‘Not a new standard for diplomacy’: Danish PM on tweet to Trump

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen spoke on Thursday night about his reasons for sending a tweet about the US gun control debate.

'Not a new standard for diplomacy': Danish PM on tweet to Trump
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen sent a tweet with a few English errors. File photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix Denmark

The tweet, which was addressed to US President Donald Trump and contained a series of English spelling and grammar errors, has been called 'untimely' and 'embarrassing' by political commentators.

In the message, Rasmussen urged Trump to listen to calls for action over school shootings in the United States.

“I completely get that it was very unusual, but I think it was the father in me [that prompted the tweet, ed.]. I have three children, two of them have been in the USA, at high school and university respectively. I think I was affected by that,” he told newspaper Berlingske.

The message from the Danish PM came as the US president listened to pleas for gun reform on Wednesday in a White House meeting with about 40 students, teachers and family members of victims, including from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed on February 14th.

Digital political communication expert Benjamin Rud Elberth told news agency Ritzau on Thursday that Rasmussen's linguistic errors placed his tweet in the same category as many of the social media messages Trump himself receives so much criticism for.

“It's completely normal to use Twitter for diplomacy and to state one's position.

“But Løkke's tweet is a bit embarrassing, because there are spelling mistakes and verb agreement errors,” Elberth said.

“It seems as though Løkke is 'doing a Trump' – coming out impulsively with something that seems ill-considered and has spelling mistakes. That adds up to make the tweet seem comical,” he added.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen's error-strewn English is fine by us

Rasmussen admitted that he had chosen an 'untraditional' way for a prime minister to express his or her thoughts.

“And you can always discuss the political wisdom of it, but in the end, I'm sure Donald Trump can handle it. So it was really just a feeling I had,” he told Berlingske.

“This does not mean I'm setting a new standard for diplomacy, or that I'm going to hit a level of Twitter activity that matches that of the American president. It just reflects that I honestly felt moved,” he added.

Asked by the newspaper whether Trump had responded to his appeal, Rasmussen replied in the negative.

“No, and I'm sure he's not going to,” the PM said.

READ ALSO: 'Listen to America's young people': Danish PM to Trump


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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Danes are ‘world’s second-best’ speakers of English as a foreign language

A new annual ranking has judged Danes to be the world’s second-best speakers of English as a second language.

Danes are 'world’s second-best' speakers of English as a foreign language
Photo: ActionVance on Unsplash

The newest edition of the annual English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) ranked Denmark second out of 100 countries that don't have English as a national language. 

That’s an improvement from last year, when Denmark was fourth, and means it has overtaken Nordic neighbours Sweden and Norway (now fourth and fifth respectively) on the list. Finland is ranked third, but Iceland, another Nordic country known for its natives’ high standard of English, is not included in the analysis.

“The countries with the highest English proficiency in Europe are clustered in Scandinavia. School systems in these countries employ several key strategies, including an early focus on communication skills, daily exposure to English both in and outside the classroom, and career-specific language instruction in the final years of study, whether that is vocational school or university,” the report states.

This year's index was again topped by The Netherlands.

READ ALSO: 

It appears Denmark has done well to slightly improve its position on the list, as the index authors found that the rest of the world is slowing catching up with those countries who have the highest proficiency levels.

“The worldwide, population-weighted average English proficiency score remained stable, but 26 countries’ scores improved significantly (meaning they gained more than 20 points), while only seven experienced significant declines,” the report summary notes.

The high scores of Denmark and the other countries near the top of the list are also a good reflection on those societies, EF writes.

“There is an increasingly clear relationship between a society’s connectedness to the world and the level of social and political equality experienced by its citizens,” the summary states.

“Closed societies turn inwards and nurture rigid hierarchies. Open societies look outwards. They are flatter, fairer places. English, as a medium of international connectivity, correlates well with measures of both equality and engagement with the outside world,” it continues.

A total of twelve countries were ranked in the ‘very high proficiency’ category, the highest level. Ten of the 12 are in Europe. The full top 12 is as follows:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Denmark
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Norway
  6. Austria
  7. Portugal
  8. Germany
  9. Belgium
  10. Singapore
  11. Luxembourg
  12. South Africa

'Very high' proficiency is defined by EF as the ability to carry out complex, nuanced tasks in English, such as negotiating a contract with a native English-speaker, reading advanced texts with ease, and using nuanced and appropriate language in social situations.

The report is based on a comparison of English skills measured by testing 2.2 million people who took EF’s English tests in 2019. The full EPI report can be read here

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