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Danish word of the day: Bemærkelsesværdig

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Danish word of the day: Bemærkelsesværdig

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Today’s Danish word is worth taking notice of.

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What is bemærkelsesværdig? 

Bemærkelsesværdig means 'remarkably' or 'conspicuously', and can be broken down into two parts.

At bemærke means 'to remark on' or 'to observe', but has more critical connotations than its relative at mærke, which means 'to feel’ or ‘to notice' in a neutral sense. 

Værd means 'value' or 'worthy', so when you put the two together, you get an adverb to describe something that's 'worth making a few observations about'. It also exists in adjectival form: bemærkelsesværdig/bemærkelsesværdigt depending on whether it defines an en or et word).

Why do I need to know bemærkelsesværdig?

Let's talk context. Bemærkelsesværdig can be used in a positive or neutral sense, like its synonym påfældende. For example, you could say that someone is a bemærkelsesværdig person (an extraordinary person) or that they have done bemærkelsesværdigt godt arbejde (remarkably good work).

But you will also hear it said with a chilly undertone, often implying that the speaker is surprised at someone else's incompetence, and inviting them to justify themselves. It belongs to a fairly formal register, so you'll hear it most often in situations where people need to be polite, replacing a word like dum (stupid) or mærkelig (strange) in situations where these words would be too rude and informal.

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This means that a lot depends on tone, so if you read or hear a phrase such as det er bemærkelsesværdigt at det ikke er sket endnu (it is remarkable that this hasn't happened yet) or det synes jeg er bemærkelsesværdigt (I find that remarkable), be aware that there may be a healthy dose of passive aggression buried in the message.

For a real-world example, if you go to your communal laundry room and find a note from a neighbour (yes, Danes sometimes leave anonymous notes) saying they find it bemærkelsesværdigt that people keep forgetting to clean the fluff from the dryer filter, this isn't a mere musing on other people's laundry habits, but a way of letting you know they'd like the filter fluff-free.

Examples

Ingen har set noget bemærkelsesværdigt

No-one saw anything remarkable [In this case, bemærkelsesværdig is used as an adjective]

Det er en bemærkelsesværdig indrømmelse

That is a remarkable admission [In this example, bemærkelsesværdig could be positive, neutral or critical, depending on the tone and context]

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