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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Forstad

Today’s word is a trip to the ‘burbs.

What is forstad? 

A noun, forstad is a compound of the prefix for- along with an archaic word, stad.

For- means ‘pre-‘ and can be seen in various other words: forberedelse (preparation), forspring (advantage), and forfest (‘pre-party’) to name three.

Stad means ‘town’ or ‘city’ but is not used in modern Danish, where the word for both of these is by. Another word, sted meaning ‘place’ is closely related to stad, which borrows its meaning from the German Stadt which also means ‘city’.

A forstad is therefore a ‘pre-town’ or to give it a proper English translation, a suburb.

Why do I need to know forstad?

While a forstad does not have to be an affluent area, it is relatively likely to be. A boligområde or ‘housing area’ is equally likely to be situated on the outskirts of a major town or city but is much more strongly associated with underprivilege. It is the second of these terms that you might therefore use to describe a Danish equivalent of a ‘housing estate’ in British English.

A forstad is a more neutral term for a suburb but with connotations that lean towards detached houses, young families and leafy streets.

It may have originally been a separate town to the larger city before being swallowed up by it and is therefore likely to have its own ‘centre’ with shops and businesses.

This can distinguish it from a boligområde as well as from a satellitby (‘satellite town’), which remains physically separated from the city.

Forstad is occasionally used negatively when implying that people who live there are out of touch or provincial and not a ‘real’ part of the city. The best example of this that I can think of comes from football stadiums, where fans tell opposition fans they belong to a forstad of somewhere considered smaller or inferior to the actual location of their club.

To the tune of ‘Guantanamera’, I’ve heard I er en forstad til Hjørring (’You’re just a suburb of Hjørring’) directed at Aalborg fans, and perhaps even more humorously I er en forstad til Sverige (‘You’re just a suburb of Sweden’) at fans of FC Copenhagen.

Examples

Jeg savner livet i København meget, men vi trives meget bedre som familie i forstæderne.

I really miss life in Copenhagen, but it’s much better for us as a family to live in the suburbs.

Lystrup er ikke en forstad til Aarhus, det er en satellitby.

Lystrup is not a suburb of Aarhus, it’s a satellite town.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Uoverskuelig

For when you just can't deal.

Danish word of the day: Uoverskuelig

What is uoverskuelig? 

This word contains skuelig, a substantive from of the verb at skue, which means “to view” but is not common in spoke Danish, where at se på or at kigge på (“to look at” in both cases) are more likely to be used to refer to looking at or viewing something.

At skue is often used in a more literary sense and can be compared to saying “consider” or “regard” when talking about looking at something. If you “cast your eyes upon” an object or landscape, you skuer it.

With the prefix over- , overskuelig means something that is possible to get a clear view of, to comprehend its full extent. Figuratively, this means to fully understand, master and be in control of something – not just to look at it.

The negation particle u reverses this meaning, giving you something that is hard to comprehend or deal with, so much so that you don’t really know where to start.

Why do I need to know uoverskuelig? 

It’s a curious and very commonly used word but one that is notoriously difficult to translate accurately into English.

As a side point, I think the double vowel at the start gives it a nice aesthetic. Lots of negated words are like this – uuholdelig (“unbearable”) and uafbrudt (“uninterrupted”) to name a couple of examples.

If you have a task – or more broadly, a day – ahead of you that you just don’t feel you have the energy or knowledge to deal with, you can say it’s uoverskuelig. In verb form, jeg kan ikke overskue means the same thing – approximately, “I can’t deal/cope with”.

Not being able to overskue something can be related to its size or complexity, but can also reflect your own condition – if you are feeling extremely tired, even a trip to the supermarket can be uoverskuelig.

It is also commonly used without the negation: Kan du stå for aftensmaden i dag? – Ja, det kan jeg godt overskue (“Can you take care of dinner today? – Yes, I can handle it”).

Examples

Jeg skal have kigget min forskudsopgørelse igennem, men det er lidt uoverskueligt.

I need to look through my tax return, but it’s quite complex.

Jeg kan aldrig overskue at tage på arbejde om mandagen.

I never feel like going to work on Mondays.

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