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10 regional Danish words that will make you sound like a local

Want to add a bit of local flavour to your Danish and impress the natives? Here are 10 words from regional dialects that you may not have heard before.

10 regional Danish words that will make you sound like a local
What's a pot called in South Jutland? Photo: thierrydu47/Depositphotos

1. Træls

Starting with a classic, træls is a multipurpose word that is heard all over Jutland, but possibly has its roots in the north.

Meaning: inconvenient, annoying, a nuisance

2. Mølle

It might mean ‘mill’ everywhere else in the country, but on Funen, ‘mølle’ is a synonym for ‘numse’, or bottom.

Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

3. Klotte

Most frequently heard on southern island Langeland and also on Funen, the verb ‘at klotte’ means to mess something up or be clumsy with something.

4. Bette

An affectionate diminutive term used in most parts of Jutland. Can be applied to both people and things, for example: 'Vil du have en bette mad?' means 'Would you like a little something to eat?', while 'Han er bare en bette dreng' means 'He's just a little boy'

5. Mojn

An almost ubiquitous greeting in South Jutland, and interestingly also in the northern German province of Schleswig-Holstein and even in Hamburg.

It can be interchanged with the way ‘hej’ is used in other parts of Denmark, which means you can say ‘mojn’ for ‘hello and ‘mojn mojn’ for goodbye.






A post shared by Christer Holte | Esbjerg, DK (@christerholte) on Mar 27, 2015 at 9:56am PDT

6. Jylkat

Jylkat is a word native to Bornholm, the Danish island in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Poland. It means hedgehog, but the second half of the word (-kat) actually means cat, giving this word a hint of animal humour.

7. Snupdug

This Jutland word, means tissue, can be broken down into the verb ‘at snuppe’ (to grab or grasp) and ‘dug’, which can mean both ‘dew’ or ‘tablecloth’. We’re unsure which of the two gives’ snupdug its etymological roots.

8. Sule

We love this verb, which is of Funen (Funensk?) origin and means ‘to be washed in the face with snow’.

Photo: alexeys/Depositphotos

9. Bom

Bom, pronounced with extra emphasis on the ‘o’ means candy, liquorice, wine gums – it’s a bit of a catch-all for sweet-toothed South Jutlanders.

10. Pot

Pot should be an easy one to remember for English speakers: it means ‘pot’ (the kitchen utensil). The standard Danish word is gryde.

Did we leave out any good Danish regional words? Do you disagree with any of our descriptions or definitions? Let us know – we’d love to hear your input.

READ ALSO: Seven Danish words that are tough to translate into English

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READERS REVEAL: What learning Danish changes about your life in Denmark

We asked our readers in Denmark why they learned to speak Danish and what it has changed about their lives.

READERS REVEAL: What learning Danish changes about your life in Denmark

For the majority of foreigners who live in Denmark, learning the Danish language comes with the territory of relocating to the country. It’s not always an easy process, but it can be a rewarding one.

We asked our readers what learning Danish had changed for them. We received a lot of interesting answers and input – thanks to all who took the time to answer our survey.

Some said that learning Danish was a personal decision while for others, it was a requirement of immigration rules.

“It was my own decision to learn the language to be able to understand what is happening around me in daily life (on public transport, in the shop, on the street, what my colleagues are chatting about when they don’t use English), and with the hope that I can easier build up some social connections with locals! If I live in a foreign country, then it’s the minimum to speak and understand the language at some extent,” said Dorina.

“I’m still in module 1 [of the national language school programme, ed.], so no change (to my life) yet, but I can see that my colleagues are valuing my effort very much,” she added.

Pedro told us that “as a person who’s lived in a few countries since I was very young, I do understand the enormous value of completely emerging oneself and learning the language of your current home.”

“It opens up a whole new world in a sense and it helps you to be fully engaged into a new society. And I’ve felt that the locals truly appreciate it when someone knows their language,” he said.

“That’s especially true with Danish since relatively there are so few speakers in the world,” he added.

“Regardless of my own desire to learn I do need to learn to pass a few language exams to fulfil my visa requirements, for permanent residency and hopefully citizenship exams,” Pedro also said while adding that knowing Danish would likely broaden his career options while in Denmark.

Lizzie meanwhile said she had begun learning Danish “because I decided to stay in the country after graduation, so it made sense to learn Danish, so I can integrate easier.”

“I’m from outside the EU. It was compulsory for me to learn (Danish) on a reunification visa,” Barry said.

Being able to speak Danish had a range of impacts on the lives of our respondents.

“After 10 years I still work in a predominately English workplace,” Barry said, adding that he used the local language “when out shopping and (for) other simple everyday interactions.”

Learning Danish has “enabled me to engage and become involved in society, build a social circle independent of my wife’s social circle and become more eligible in my previous professional field,” wrote Lyle, who was required to learn the language to meet visa requirements.

“Danes hold you in a higher regard when you engage in Danish even if you attempt and you suck a bit,” he said.

Another reader, Iulian, said language classes were a good place to “meet people having the same obstacles and make new friends.”

“And it is free now,” he noted.

READ ALSO: More foreigners go to Danish language classes after fees scrapped

“I have a nice relation with my 70-plus year-old neighbour who speaks only Danish. He helped us with so many things so far, things I would have not known if he would not have told me. It was possible because I learned some Danish, enough to understand each other,” Iulian said.

“Finding work and internships I think has been easier” with Danish, wrote Lizzie, adding that even at international companies, Danish can help you feel more at home.

“Almost everyone speaks Danish in the breaks,” she said.

“It’s allowed me to communicate with others, especially at my son’s vuggestue [childcare] where many don’t speak English as much as the general population,” Pedro added.

Dorina told us that “A whole new world opens up by understanding what’s going on around me.”

“The biggest achievement of starting the language is that I can already catch some words from locals and be able to differentiate words within a sentence when they speak,” she said.