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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Venligst

Kindly take a look at the word of the day.

What is venligst?

To be venlig is to be friendly: a ven is a friend. Venligst is the superlative form of the word: the “most friendly”.

Venlig also has some nuances that extend beyond its literal meaning. To describe a person as venlig can also mean they are pleasant company and accommodating towards others, perhaps comparable to the Spanish adjective simpático.

It can also be used as part of a polite request. Vær så venlig at lukke døren, for example, means “be so kind as to close the door”.

The superlative venligst can fill in as a contraction for venlig in sentences like these. Luk venligst døren has the exact same meaning — “be so kind as to close the door” — but uses the imperative form of the verb at lukke (“to close”).

Why do I need to know venligst?

Perhaps the strangest thing about the Danish language is that it has no word for “please”. More than merely an interesting quirk, the lack of “please” in Danish can sometimes help to explain social norms.

For example, ordering a coffee in a cafe by saying “a cup of coffee” — and nothing else — would probably by considered impolite by many, but if you do it in Danish (en kop kaffe) you will generally not be thought of as rude by the barista.

This reflects not only the direct way Danes often address each other, but the fact that extended niceties and long introductions aren’t necessarily considered a form of politeness. It goes some way to explaining why “please” does not have a Danish counterpart.

That’s not to say you can’t be more polite than simply saying en kop kaffe if you want to. Many will use tak (“thank you”) as a substitute for please: en kop kaffe, tak. You can also say jeg vil gerne bede om en kop kaffe (“I’d like to ask for a cup of coffee”). You’ll probably be thought of as venlig if you say this, but it’s not considered necessary.

Venligst is therefore probably the closest word to “please” that exists in the Danish language. To return to the example above, luk venligst døren can mean the same thing as “please close the door”. Venligst does not mean “please” though. You can’t use it to order a cup of coffee.

Examples

Benyt venligst hovedindgangen, når du ankommer.

Please use the main entrance when you arrive.

Sluk venligst for jeres mobiltelefoner under forestillingen.

Kindly switch off your mobile phones during the show.

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For members

DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Folk

This Danish word is a word for the people.

Danish word of the day: Folk

What is folk?

Folk simply means ‘people’, but it is used in a great number of ways, and in a great number of words. 

Folk or volk is the Germanic equivalent of the Latin populus, which is the origin of the English word people, the French peuple, the Spanish pueblo, and many more.

Folk is cognate with the English, Norwegian and Swedish folk, and the Icelandic fólk, the Dutch and German volk, as in Volkswagen, which means ‘the people’s car’ — usually called folkevogn (“people’s wagon”) in Danish.

Why do I need to know folk?

Being such an important word, you can find it used in many other words. 

Folkeregistrering is the process by which Danish residents are entered onto the Centrale Personregister (CPR). The purpose of the CPR is to be a register of basic information including name, date of birth and address, and the number under which you are registered is used as a form of identification in many public and private services. In short, life in Denmark doesn’t really work without one.

Folkekære, which means something like “dear to the people” is a term often used to describe veteran actors or celebrities who are popular with pretty much everyone — singer Kim Larsen or actor Ghita Nørby, for example.

Then there’s the use of the word in folkeparti, “people’s party”, used by three different political parties which traverse the ideological spectrum: Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party), Det Konservative Folkeparti (The Conservative Party) and Det Socialistiske Folkeparti (The Socialist People’s Party)-

Sometimes it just means a group of people, as in der er masser af folk på gaden – “There are a bunch of people out on the street.”

Sometimes it means ‘the people’: folket or det danske folk can be used to refer to the public in general.

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