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Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Painful hugs and Poison Gifts: When the same words mean different things in Danish and English

When you’re just starting to learn Danish, some people may tell you that Danish and English are very much alike.

In some ways, they are. The Vikings invaded England several times and left behind their language as well as their genes.

The Danish word sky, meaning cloud, became the English word ‘sky.’ Øl – Danish beer – is ‘ale’ in English.

But in some ways, English and Danish are not alike, and that can cause problems. Back in the days when I was learning French, they called them ‘false friends’ – words that look identical but mean entirely different things.

The one I noticed first when I arrived in Denmark was slut. Slut means ‘finished’ in Danish, all done, but the same four letters in English spell ‘slut,’ which is a not very nice name for someone, usually a woman, who is very friendly in a naked sort of way.

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