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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Hver

The word of the day is an everyday word, and can seem to be heard everywhere.

What is hver?

Hver is a determiner or quantifier more or less equivalent to the English “every”. Jeg står op hver dag kl. 6 (“I get up every day at 6am”), for example.

There are a couple of ways in which hver and “every” are used a little differently in terms of grammar.

Specifically, it can mean “each” in certain constructs: tre håndlavet smykker, hver med et unikt design (“three handmade pieces of jewellery, each with a unique design”) or jeg giver julegaver til hver af mine tre ansatte (“I give Christmas presents to each of my three employees”).

So while in English, “each” always refers to an individual thing or person, while “every” refers to a group of things or people grouped together as one, this is not the case in Danish, where hver can do both jobs.

The English expression “each and every”, an emphasised way of saying “every”, is rendered in Danish as hver og en, literally “every and one”, while “every single” is hver eneste, which literally translates to “every only”.

Why do I need to know hver?

It’s not just the subtle grammatical differences from English that make hver an interesting word. It’s also a Danish homophone, a word that is pronounced in the same way as another but has a different meaning.

Hver actually has as many as three homophones: værd (“worth”), vejr (“weather”) and (at) være (“to be”). As such, it can be a common cause of typos and spelling mistakes.

I once had a university professor who was originally from Iraq and would regularly express his frustration at the words skov (“forest”) and sko (“shoe”), which he said were impossible to distinguish.

Hver, værd, vejr and være are arguably even harder work, with each (or is that every?) one of the four homophones having a different meaning.

Have you come across any other confusing Danish homophones? Let us know.

Example:

Det her vejr er ikke noget værd. Det regner hver dag. Jeg gad godt være på ferie lige nu.

This weather’s not worth anything. It rains every day. I’d like to be on holiday right now.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Selvfed

The word of the day can help you not to get carried away by your own success.

Danish word of the day: Selvfed

What is selvfed?

Selv (“self”) and fed (“fat”) combine to create a composite word that has a figurative, rather than a literal, meaning (thankfully).

To be selvfed, though it literally means “self-fat” or “fattened on oneself” to translate slightly less directly, means to “perceive oneself as being smart, good, clever or similar”.

It is normally used in a derogatory manner, so you wouldn’t usually say it about yourself but might hear someone describing another person (perhaps behind their back, but perhaps not) as being selvfed.

A possible English translation might be “smug”, but this doesn’t always quite fit. “Self-satisfied” is a good option, while the more colloquial “full of oneself” (“he’s so full of himself, the way he always interrupts and thinks he knows everything”) is arguably a closer equivalent, with the added benefit of evoking similar imagery.

Why do I need to know selvfed?

Admonishing someone for being selvfed, or complaining to somebody else that a person is selvfed, feels like it fits well with a well-known aspect of Danish culture: humility. Even though making such an assertion might be a bit outspoken in itself.

The mindset of not excessively building up one’s knowledge or achievements, and instead remaining modest is a known Danish social more, and one we’ve alluded to in earlier words of the day.

As such, someone who’s a bit drunk on their own success risks being seen as selvfed, which is arguably a more negative thing in Denmark than it might be elsewhere.

READ ALSO: Five Danish social norms that might be new to newcomers

Examples

Han laver hele tiden latterlige opslag på Instagram. Jeg synes han er lidt for selvfed.

He’s always posting ridiculous things on Instagram. I think he’s a little bit self-satisfied.

Liam Gallagher er lige så selvfed nu, some han var i 90’erne.

Liam Gallagher is just as arrogant now as he was in the nineties.

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