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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Overenskomst

This Danish word is frequently heard whenever there is a strike or any kind of industrial dispute.

What is overenskomst?

To be overens means to be in agreement with or match something, while the -komst suffix is derived from the verb at komme – to come or to arrive. An overenskomst, then, is the arrival at an agreement. It is used specifically in the context of negotiations between trade unions and employers’ organisations.

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates wages, for example stipulating that all employees with a certain job title must receive a salary within a certain pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

Overenskomst is therefore used to refer to a collective bargaining agreement, or a set of working conditions agreed between employers and union representatives.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

Why do I need to know overenskomst?

Almost 70 percent of people in Denmark are members of a trade union, which means the majority of people will be covered by an overenskomst.

It’s when negotiations over a new overenskomst break down that strikes (or, conversely, ‘lockouts’) occur.

There are other ways of describing union negotiations and agreements with words which are also used in other contexts. These include the normal words for agreement (aftale) and solution (løsning): Jeg håber snart, der kommer en aftale, så sygeplejerskerne ikke bliver tvunget til at strejke (“I hope an agreement will be reached soon, so that nurses aren’t forced to go on strike”); Jeg tror, vi finder en god løsning under forhandlingerne (“I believe we will come up with a good solution during the negotiations”).

Example

Arbejdsgiverorganisationen og fagforeningerne er langt fra hinanden, og ingen forventer en overenskomst foreløbigt.

The employers’ organisation and trade unions are far apart in their demands, and a collective bargaining agreement is not expected in the near future.

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For members

DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Jævndøgn

The light and the dark side are now in balance.

Danish word of the day: Jævndøgn

What is jævndøgn?

Jævndøgn the term used to describe the spring (forårsjævndøgn) and autumn (efterårsjævndøgn) equinoxes.

On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration (this is true at the same time all over the planet, not just in Denmark).

The word used in English, equinox, comes from Latin: aequus (equal) and nox (night). The Danish term is directly related to Old English and Norse. Jævn is an adjective similar to “even” and can be used to describe a physical quality (en jævn overflade is “an even surface”), as well as to mean “equal”.

While jævn is “equal” when talking about the equinox and in various other formulations related to measurement, a different word, lighed or ligestilling, is used to mean “equality”.

Døgn is a useful Danish word that doesn’t have an exact English translation but can both mean “a day” or “a 24-hour period”. It’s usually used in preference to the more common dag (“day”) when talking about the amount of time within a day, and not to the day in general.

For example, a store that is open 24 hours a day is described as døgnåbent, “24-hour-open”. If you arbejder døgnet rundt you work all hours of the day.

Putting jævn and døgn together gives you the Danish word for equinox, jævndøgn, literally “equal 24-hours”.

Why do I need to know jævndøgn?

September 23rd (sometimes 22nd) is the autumn equinox. From that date onwards, days include more dark minutes than light ones.

The longest night of the year will fall on December 21st, the winter solstice, when Denmark can expect 17 hours of darkness. The Danish word for solstice is solhverv, from sol (sun) and hverv, an archaic word for “turning”.

On March 20th the spring equinox or forårsjævndøgn, things switch back as spring approaches and there is once again more light than dark.

Pronunciation

The “j” in jævn is pronounced like the “y” in “yellow and the “v” as a “w”, giving you “yæwn”.

To say døgn, imagine you are saying “boy” but replacing the b with a d. Then add an “n” at the end.

Example

I dag er det jævndøgn, hvor dag og nat er lige lange.

Today is the equinox, when day and night are the same length.

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