>’Ej, ‘Ej!

NOT READY for sleep last night, I completed my Danish homework and then slumped on the sofa and did a rare thing – watched Danish telly.

As usual, I started nobly, watching the news and trying to understand what had happened in my adopted home (something in Amager; after that it was all about Google releasing Chrome).

I’m not a great TV watcher, something not helped by having the world’s worst cable package from yousee.dk. About a dozen really poor Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian channels.

Tiring of not really grasping the finer points of the news, I inevitably started flicking: white noise – nature programme – white noise – white noise – documentary about dead mountain climbers – white noise – Frost – white noise – cheesy Scandi soap – white noise – GOLD!

Pushing midnight, I stumbled across ‘Allo ‘Allo!. This curious effort of a sitcom has always held a strange fascination for me – a wartime comedy about French resistance to occupying Nazis as seen through the eyes of a randy cafe owner is weird enough. But the language is often the strangest thing. The French characters speak English with a bad French accent. The Germans speak English with a bad German accent. The English speak a toffee-nosed version of English – all chaps this, and right-ho that.

There is one character, a British SOE man named Crabtree dropped into France to spy disguised as a policeman, who is particularly odd. He is supposed to be fluent in French, but of course, he isn’t. So he speaks English with a bad French accent. Eg, he might say the line, “I was just passing so I thought I’d drop in” as “Er was jerst pissing so Er thought Er’d drip in”. The episode I stumbled upon last night was Crabtree’s debut, and while he was new and his full comic potential yet to be developed, his general incompetence with language struck a chord with me.

I wondered if I spoke Danish as badly as he spoke French? I don’t know. Interestingly, on many occasions now, my Danish has led people to believe I am Swedish. One chap refused to believe I came from England.

My colleagues always ask how my Danish is progressing and I always tell them the same thing: I won’t say how good my Danish is. It gives me an edge if you don’t know how much of what you say I understand.

But I like to think when I speak it, I am burbling in some Crabtree-esque version of Danish. That would please me.

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7 Comments on ">’Ej, ‘Ej!"

  • >Surely that’s what Steve McClaren’s been doing in Dutch.

    I always thought it strange that Michelle from the resistance could speak English simply by adopting a Celia Johnson type voice but the french and germans could easily converse without swapping their accents.

    Maybe you should concentrate on actually becoming Crabtree – peppering your danish conversation with innocent yet lurid euphemisms and mis-pronounced words – start by finding a word that sounds almost the same as the danish for “pissing”.

  • >Pissing?

    Why, that would be “tissing” in Danish.

  • >Excellent, all you have to say now is

    “I was tissing by your shop…”

    Have you been able to tell anyone of the irony that the danish word for money is “Penge”

  • >That might be a stretch. Cash machines are called Penge Automat – makes me think of a dodgy laundry in that less than pleasant south London suburb.

  • >Tried Kanal København? My all time favourite. 🙂

  • >I’ve read about the filth they put on Kanal København – and the degenerates who consume it…

    Where do I sign up?

  • >hi, i like your writing style and would like to propose something, the fact that you are based in Denmark makes it all the sweeter, anyways, if you would like to write for a site i am in the process of establishing just contact me,



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