do you speak Danish?

Our church is currently brimming with people for whom English is their second language. About a third of the congregation present on any given Sunday speak German as their first language (which is pretty much as you’d expect in the middle of such a profoundly Italian a suburb as Haberfield, right?).


St Oswald's, Haberfield -- Front Window

Since even five years of High School German can only take me so far, I’ve started to wonder whether I might be able to use my dad’s tried and tested strategy — learn how to say ‘Do you speak Danish?’ … in every language.

It’s one simple phrase, my dad assures me, that can get you anywhere. Well, almost.

How? Let me try to explain. When the person you’re speaking to says, ‘No. I don’t speak Danish.’ (and, to be honest, who does?), all you have to do is say: ‘Well, what about English then?’ and you’ve proposed a happy compromise!

OK. It’s probably a non-starter. But I can think of worse coping strategies (e.g., talking louder and slower in your own language — like you might to a young child)…



  1. Surely you’d just need to learn in Danish, right?

    Since Swedish is “Pråta du Svenska” (the a with a ring is pronounced like the a in water), it will be something along the lines of “Pråta du Dansk”.

    You need the proper pronunciation though – practice speaking with a mouthful of porridge.

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