Danish: "yes"

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Stoggler, Jan 27, 2013.

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  1. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English

    Having watched quite a bit of Danish dramas on British TV (The Killing/Forbrydelsen, Borgen, Broen/Bron) I've noticed that occasionally I hear Danes say the English word "yes". Is this actually a Danish word that just sounds the same as the English word or are they knowingly using the English word? Is this common in Danish?

  2. bicontinental Senior Member

    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    The Danish word for yes is ja (or jo), but I guess it just doesn't have the same 'oomph'. :)
    Yes is quite common in modern Danish as you've noticed, and frequently (though not exclusively so) it is used to add emphasis, as in "yessss!!, I did it!" I just realized it's been given its own entry in the online Danish dictionary, 'Den danske ordbog': http://ordnet.dk/ddo/ordbog?query=yes.

  3. henbjo Member

    Valencia, Spain
    This is also the case in Norwegian, where yes has become very common as a positive exclamation upon some sort of success.
  4. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Thanks for the responses. I can't think of other languages where they have borrowed such basic words (where they already otherwise exist).
  5. mosletha Senior Member

    Haugesund, Norway
    I think the sounds in the word just fit very well into Norwegian. We could easily write it as 'jess' and you wouldn't know it was an imported word.
  6. jette(DK) Senior Member

    You would be surprised how many common English words have sneaked into Danish during the last say ten years. All of them coexist with perfectly functional Danish words. People somehow just feel the English words sound better or they want to flash their command of the English language or their ability to function in a globalized world. Young people are hardly able so say a full sentence anymore without including at least one English word.

    We hardly have e.g. 'udsalg' anymore, they've all turned into 'sale'. Major institutions not only have an English equivalent in their name, their name ONLY exists in English. This is true for Copenhagen Airport and Copenhagen Business School, just to mention a few. And probably one of the most common Danish swearwords is the English fourletter F-word.

    The examples are numerous and if you listen carefully to The Killing, Borgen and others you'll soon notice many more than 'YES!'
  7. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Hej jette

    It's very obvious watching Danish TV and films just how much English is sprinkled throughout people's language - it is quite humorous at times though hearing a string of mostly incomprehenisible language then suddenly hearing "worst case scenario" in the middle of it (as in one episode of Borgen I rewatched the other evening).

    I think what sparked my question was that borrowing such a basic word like "yes" is unusual though, but as mosletha pointed out it fits into the phonology of Norwegian (and I assume Danish) so well.
  8. Havfruen Senior Member

    English - American
    Yes, it's some years since I was in Denmark but I watch Danish TV online and the insertion of so many English phrases cracks me up --especially when pronounced with a heavy Danish accent.:D
    I'm wondering if it is more common to include English in spoken language, compared to written language?
  9. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    As a sidenote, Icelanders also use the English word "yes", although only in the sense of "yes, I did it!" rather than as a positive response to a question.
  10. Lugubert Senior Member

    Add Swedish. Yes! But, also, one of the most common interjections among young people seems to be "shit"! Not to mention the "F" word...

    We have the same obsession as mentioned with "sale". And for shopping malls, you can often see a majority of English shop names, like Cook shop, Accent, American classics, American cookies, Bianco footwear, Espresso house, Foot locker, G-star raw and a dozen plus more at one (1) home page.
  11. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    The use of the word "Sale" is not only in Danish - I was recently involved in the production of advertising material for a chain with stores in approx 25 countries. About half of them used the word "Sale".

    And if they have a "spindoctor" on "Borgen", why shouldn't they have a "worst case scenario". Of course you could translate that, but it wouldn't be as short or precise, and people know what you mean. At the end of the day that is what we want, isn't it? Danish and English are dialects of the same language that drifted apart over the years. Why shouldn't they drift a bit back together again.
    In English you also say "ombudsman" and "kindergarden", "smorgasbord", "abseilrope" and things like that.
  12. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Plus Wayne's Coffee, which from the outside looked like a Starbucks knock-off (with very similar typeface on its signage) but inside it's a far far superior product than the American chain. After all, coffee is something the Swedish do very well, not to mention the kanelbullar and other tasty fika treats...

    The use of the F work in Sweden has really struck me. Many Swedish people, when speaking English, don't seem to have the hang of how to use it and I've heard it being said in very unusual and unexpected contexts. I couldn't help but burst out laughing once when being given directions by someone who was otherwise polite and was told to "turn left at the f***ing traffic lights"!
  13. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    ... which is surprising because they have so many profane words in their own language, and no fear of using them. A bit unfair, I should say.
  14. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    The adoption of 'foreign' words by various languages is an interesting topic.  The original question and discussion of 'yes' have a specific focus, as the forum requires. 

    However, the subsequent discussion has broadened and become too general, and this thread is now closed. 

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