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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Bakke

You could be up, down, halfway up or neither up nor down with today's word of the day.

What is bakke?

When you think of the word bakke in Danish, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a hill or a slope, as this is the meaning of the noun bakke. The hill in question might be an actual hill, on which you could march up one side and down the other; or it could also just be a slope on a road. You might hear someone referring to having to cycle op ad bakken hele vejen (“uphill all the way”) on their cycle journey to or from work or school.

This is not the only meaning of bakke, though. It is also a verb: at bakke (“to back”) can be used in the context of both “backing” or reversing a vehicle; or “backing up” (bakke op), meaning to support someone through either practical help or stating you agree with their viewpoint or suggestion.

More obscurely, you can also bakke på en pibe, meaning to repeatedly puff on a pipe.

It can also be used in a metaphorical sense. To say something is going op ad bakke (literally “uphill”) can be used to express adversity or difficulty. The opposite phrase, ned ad bakke (“downhill”) does not however mean something is going well, but rather that its condition or situation is getting worse. 

There are also other meanings of bakke as a noun. A bakke can be a tray, for example on which you carry and place food and drinks, or a disposable container for carrying or transporting food, such as from takeaways restaurants (æske is also commonly used to refer to this type of container).

Why do I need to know bakke?

We’ve previously written about Danish homophones, words that are pronounced in the same way as another but have a different meaning.

Bakke is an example of several homographs — words that are spelled the same but which differ in meaning or pronunciation. All the various versions of bakke are pronounced the same, so it’s just the meanings that vary.

No other word in the Danish dictionary has more homographs than bakke. There are seven different official ones. These include all of the meanings described above, but the most bizarre is its use as an approximation for “speaking” in bakke snagvendt (“speak facing backwards”). This is actually a corruption of the way you would normally write or say “speak facing backwards”, snakke bagvendt, and means to swap letters or vowels in words for fun.

Examples

Løbets sidste 500 meter gik ret meget op ad bakke, og det jeg kunne virkelig mærke i benene.

The last 500 metres of the race were very uphill, which I really felt in my legs.

Et flertal i folketinget bakkede ikke op om regeringens forslag om at hæve aldersgrænsen for at købe cigaretter.

A majority in parliament did not support the government’s proposal to increase the age limit for buying cigarettes.

Det er gået ned ad bakke for VB i en længere periode, så nedrykningen kommer ikke som en overraskelse.

Vejle FC have been struggling for some time, so their relegation did not come as a surprise.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Uenig

The Danish word ‘uenig’ has no exact equivalent in the English language. Do you agree?

We hope our examples make this article clearer. Let us know if you don't agree.
We hope our examples make this article clearer. Let us know if you don't agree. Photo by Clarissa Watson on Unsplash

What is uenig?

So what does it mean?

To be uenig is to disagree or be in disagreement over something (the antonym, enig, is used when you agree).

It’s not an exact like-for-like with the English ‘disagree’, however, because the Danish word is and adjective and the English word is a verb.

You can say “I disagree” in English but not in Danish where you’d have to reword as jeg er uenig, “I am in disagreement”. The noun for “disagreement” in Danish is an uenighed.

Why do I need to know uenig? 

There’s a number of ways you can use uenig, meaning to be in disagreement, usually in sentences that sound a bit different in English.

Two people can be uenige, in a disagreement, but as the subject of a sentence the disagreement is an uenighed between two people.

There’s also an important distinction relating to prepositions. To be uenig med hende is to disagree with her, but to be uenig i noget is to disagree on something someone has said or claimed. Two or more people can also be uenige om (about) something.

Hopefully, the examples below will make this a bit clearer.

How do I use it?

Jeg er uenig med dig.

I disagree with you.

Han sagde, at bananer smager bedre end æbler. Det er jeg uenig i. 

He said bananas taste better than apples. I disagree with that.

De to politiske partier gik fra mødet uden at have opnået en større enighed i forhold til spørgsmålet.

The two political parties left the meeting without achieving any greater agreement over the issue.

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