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Danish word of the day: Bundesligahår

If you're familiar with the 'business at the front, party at the back' approach to hairstyles, you'll need to know today's Danish word of the day.

What is ‘Bundesligahår’?

We’ll start with the easy part. Hår is the Danish word for hair. So any word with a prefix in front of ‘hår’ must be a name of a type of hair or hairstyle.

Bundesliga is not a Danish word at all, but is the name of the highest division of professional football in Germany (literally meaning something approximate to ‘national federation league’), similar to the Premier League in England, Premiership in Scotland, Serie A in Italy and so on.

So Bundesligahår means, literally, ‘top division of German football-hair’.

And what does it refer to?

You may have already guessed by now, but Bundesligahår is what is most commonly referred to in English as a mullet. That is, the hairstyle in which the hair is cut short and tidy at the front and sides, but is long at the back (and not the species of fish).

The Danish name is apparently to the reference of the high prevalence of the style amongst German footballers during its heyday, perhaps most notably that of former Werder Bremen striker Rudi Völler (who also played in the Italian and French leagues during his career).

 Völler played 90 times for the West Germany and Germany men’s national teams between 1982 and 1994, giving the iconic style no shortage of international exposure.

Why do I need to know this?

The distinctive trim was last year reported to be making a comeback in Denmark — with the Covid-19 epidemic given part of the blame (or credit?) for its reappearance.

“All the boys were unable to get a haircut for many months [due to lockdowns, ed.], so their hair has now got long, and some are beginning to experiment with it,” fashion expert Marlene Malling told broadcaster TV2.

American singer Miley Cyrus has also sported a version of what Danes would call Bundesligahår. The Local cannot confirm whether she did this as an homage to Rudi Völler.

Alternative expressions

You might also hear a mullet referred to in Danish as svenskerhår (‘Swedish hair’), whereas in Sweden it is referred to as a hockeyfrilla (‘hockey haircut’).

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Danish expression of the day: Det ligner

It looks like an obvious choice for the word of the day. But is it?

Danish expression of the day: Det ligner

What is det ligner?

The verb at ligne is another example of a word that enables Danes to say something in fewer words than the equivalent sentence in English.

Meaning “to look like”, it normally has a straightforward use: han ligner sin mor, for example: “he looks like his mother”.

Arguably, there is an English verb directly equivalent to at ligne which would allow you to say the above sentence in neither more nor fewer words than the Danish version. “He resembles his mother” would also be an acceptable translation of han ligner sin mor. 

Despite this, I’d argue “looks like” is more accurate in most situations and contexts, because at ligne does not have the formal feel of written language that “resemble” conjures up.

Why do I need to know det ligner?

When you put the pronoun det (“it”) in front of the verb, making it “it looks like”, the use of at ligne can take on a different meaning.

In the sentence det ligner at det bliver regnvejr hele weekenden (“it looks like it will rain all weekend”), ligner drops its equivalence to “resemble” and, similar to “looks like”, can be used to make a prediction.

According to language regulator Dansk Sprognævn, this alternative use of det ligner has emerged in the last 20-25 years. That being the case, you could speculate that it has occurred as a result of an English phrase being adopted in Danish, even though it makes less sense in Danish in its original guise.

This is not necessarily true. Another way of talking about an uncertain future event in Danish is to say det ser ud til, approximately “it looks as though”. Det ser ud til at det bliver regnvejr is, in fact, probably closer to “it looks like it will rain” than any translation that uses det ligner.

Nevertheless, det ligner is a concise way of talking about something that looks likely to happen in the future. You would normally say it based on some form of evidence, rather than your own instinct: in the examples above, darkening grey clouds on the horizon would probably get people saying det ligner regnvejr.


Det lignede en sikker sejr for hjemmeholdet, men så lukkede de tre mål ind i anden halvleg.

It looked like a comfortable victory for the home team, but they conceded three goals in the second half.

Er du okay? Du ligner slet ikke dig selv.

Are you ok? You don’t look yourself at all.