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Danish word of the day: Dog

Today’s word has no canine connotations.

What is dog? 

Dog is a particle that can sometimes act as a filler word. It appears frequently in both written and spoken Danish but is not always easy to translate.

It has nothing to do with the English animal name “dog”, just to be clear. The Danish word for “dog” is hund.

Danish has a number of particles: words that cannot be inflected and which must be associated with other words to nuance meaning.

Another example of this is the very common word altså, which can translate variously to “I mean”, “that is to say”, “therefore” or “i.e.”.

Both altså and dog have close relations in German which are also particles: also and doch. Their meanings don’t correlate exactly, however.

Why do I need to know dog?

There are many ways that dog can modify a sentence, often adding emphasis or qualification to a statement. It should be noted that because dog is a particle, any of the below sentence examples will still make sense if you remove dog.

When used as a qualifier, it can be thought of as similar to “though” or “although” in English, as in the following example:

Vi kan sagtens bestille takeaway i aften, jeg vil dog helst spise noget sundt.
Sure, we can get takeaway tonight, though I’d prefer to have something healthy.

When it is put into a sentence to add emphasis, the format of the sentence will be similar to the old-fashioned use of “how” in English to begin a statement about something the speaker is praising. The Danish equivalent sounds less old-fashioned:

Hvor ser du dog pænt ud med jakkesæt på.
How handsome you look with a suit on/You look ever so handsome with a suit on.

Another classic use of dog is in irritation, most commonly hold dog op (“stop it!”).

Hold dog op med at råbe sådan. Jeg sidder lige her.
Do stop shouting like that. I’m sitting right here.

It can also have the effect of turning the question “why not?” into the more emphatic “why ever not?”:

Du må ikke kigge på min telefon. – Hvorfor dog det?
You mustn’t look at my phone. – Why ever not?!

The hvorfor dog in the above sentence can be switched to a hvordan dog (“how ever” or “how on earth”) to express doubt:

Hvordan kan det dog regne hele tiden? Jeg troede det var sommer.
How on earth can it keep raining all the time? I thought it was summer.

You can also say jamen dog in exclamation. Unlike all the other examples, just saying jamen without the dog won’t convey a similar meaning. The phrase itself means something roughly akin to “oh wow”.

Jeg skal optræde i en teaterforestilling. – Jamen dog!
I am going to perform in a theatre production. – Oh wow!

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For members


Danish word of the day: Trivsel

A word that expresses a feeling of well-being.

Danish word of the day: Trivsel

What is trivsel? 

Trivsel is a noun which is difficult to pin to a direct English translation. It comes from the verb at trives, which is a little easier, meaning “to thrive”.

At trives is used in a broader range of situations than “thrive”, however. You can say han trives til fodbold (“he’s thriving at football practice”), but also han trives i sin nye skole.

This latter sentence literally means “he’s thriving at his new school” but doesn’t exactly mean “thriving” in the way you’d understand the word in English. As well as growing physically or mentally, trives can also mean to find yourself in a generally good situation, to feel at home in your surroundings or to be comfortable and able to develop in the work or school situation you are in.

So han trives i skolen doesn’t necessarily mean “he’s getting good marks and learning a lot at school”, although this may also be the case. Instead, it can mean something closer to “he likes his school and is happy to go there”.

Why do I need to know trivsel?

As the noun form of at trives, trivsel is normally used to describe the level of well-being of someone in a particular context. It’s common to hear it used about children and young people, but it’s not limited to that particular topic.

You might have read a sentence such as det er afgørende for børns trivsel, at man kan komme i skole og være sammen med klassekammerater (”it’s crucial for the well-being of children that they can come into school and see their classmates”) during the Covid-19 pandemic, when there was discussion about the impact of lockdowns on young people’s development and mental health.

The opposite of trivsel is mistrivsel. This is even harder to translate unless you just think of it as being an opposite. “Lack of well-being” or a “well-being deficit” loosely convey its meaning, and it can also just mean “feeling bad”.

Man risikerer mistrivsel blandt børn og unge, hvis skolerne bliver ved med at lukket på længere sigt is a negated way of saying the previous example sentence: ”You are at risk of damaging the well-being and development of children and young people if schools remain closed in the longer term”.