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​​Danish word of the day: Krænket

Today's word of the day was born out of a medieval code of honour, but its application today is very modern.

What is krænket?

The word krænket describes when someone considers themselves to have had their personal honour attacked in words or action. 

At krænke, the verb formcan also mean ‘to violate’, as in a violation of someone’s rights. De har krænket mine rettigheder means ‘they violated my rights’. 

The word has been used as an adjective for centuries, but primarily in the verb form. The Swedish equivalent, kränka, is derived from Old Swedish kränkia, meaning ‘to weaken, disgrace, or transgress’. That verb is taken from the Low German krenken, ‘to weaken’.

But the history of krænket does not end here.

Why do I need to know krænket?

The word has gained new life and meaning in modern Danish debates on issues including gender and race, where it has become an epithet aimed at someone who feels disparaged for supposedly no legitimate reason. 

Krænket, then, no longer describes simply a person who has actually been dishonoured, but someone whose opponents wish to mock them for being upset about something. 

For example, someone complaining about what they consider a to be discrimination against another person or group of people might find themselves being disparaged for feeling krænket or being krænkelsesparat (roughly “easily offended”). The subtext is that they care more about being right over a political correctness issue than they do about the people who might have been affected.

In return, this criticism may be rejected as a deflection tactic from the complainants legitimate grievance.

Whether you feel krænket, or have in fact been krænket it is not a nice word to use about someone else. 

Try not to krænke anyone, but do alert the proper authorities if you feel that someone has krænket your rights: in some contexts its meaning is very close to chikaneret, meaning to be harassed.

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Danish word of the day: Idræt

A sporty word that doesn’t quite mean “sport”, but does tell us something about shared Scandinavian identity.

Danish word of the day: Idræt

What is idræt?

Idræt means “sports” even though the word sport exists in Danish. 

In modern Danish, you’ll most likely hear it as the name of a school subject (the equivalent of P.E.), but idræt has been around since the nineteenth century and comes from the Icelandic íþrótt, which also means “sport”. 

The Icelandic íþrótt originated in the Old Norse íþrótt (“art, craft, skill, sport”) which is itself a compound of  (“work, diligence, id”) and þrótr (“bravery, strength, powers”).

So why not just sport? Well, simply put, sport is not Scandinavian in origin. The English word “sport” comes from the Old French desportdeport which meant “game, amusement” – think of the games in Olympic Games. 

Íþrótt was instead borrowed from Icelandic as a more Nordic alternative to the English-French sport during the heyday of a movement called Nordism, which stemmed from Scandinavism, also known as Scandinavianism or pan-Scandinavianism. 

Why do I need to know idræt?

So what was Scandinavism? In short, it is the idea that the Scandinavian countries should be closer, perhaps even one country. The movement was primarily literary, linguistic and cultural, promoting a shared Scandinavian cultural heritage.

Scandinavism was started by Danish and Swedish university students in the 1840s, in the southern Swedish region of Skåne, and paralleled the unifications happening in Italy and Germany during the same period. It lost its momentum after Denmark lost the Second Schleswig-Holstein War in 1864 and the King of Sweden and Norway declined to help the Danes in the conflict.

The movement also promoted the close relation of the Scandinavian languages, although not necessarily a new common “Scandinavian” language.

It should be noted here that Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are considered mutually intelligible, although any Swede spending a weekend trying to talk to Danes in Copenhagen may disagree with that assessment.

Nevertheless, some linguists go as far as to say the three are a language continuum, or in other words, dialects of the same language: the North Germanic Dialect Continuum.

Icelandic and Faroese are different enough to be regarded as separate languages, but they should perhaps also be included as belonging in terms of culture.