Over the last year, I have, for some reason, ended up teaching people online Danish swear words. On several separate occasions. Not sure how it keeps happening, but now I’m leaning into it.
Time for ‘Michelle’s Guide to Swearing Like a Dane!’
First of, I got to admit that even though Danish has a lot of unique curse words, we have been ruined by American culture, just like just about everyone else. ‘Shit’ and ‘Fuck’ is an integrated part of the vocabulary of anyone above the age of 5 and below the age of 60 (but we’re a lot less sensitive about it. You won’t see our movies get higher ratings just because of cursing, and the dialogue in our reality shows isn’t just a series of beeps).
So a lot of the following words and phrases might not be as commonly used as their English counterparts, especially by the younger generation.
It also means that if you go to Denmark as a British or American person, you’re going to be horrified at how casually we use your dreaded F-word. No matter when I finish and publish this post, I can promise you that my mother will have told me to fuck off within the last month.
(Last time it was because I caught a shiny Pokemon that she didn’t have in Pokemon GO.)
Literally: For the Devil
This is a nice versatile one. It’s used in the same way as ‘for fuck’s sake’, but isn’t considered as crass. The milder version is ‘For Søren’, which, considering my uncle’s name is Søren, you would think would be used like ‘For Pete’s sake’, but mostly it’s used in place of ‘Oops’…
‘For fanden’ can be freely substituted with ‘For satan’, but it needs to be said with Danish inflection. Otherwise, it sounds like you’re actually worshipping Satan.
(You can also use ‘For helvede’, meaning ‘For hell’. We’re not picky with the term, as long as it’s clear that your allegiance lies with the guy down-under.)
Literally: The Devil’s also
Variation of ‘For fanden’. Used in the same way as ‘Shit’ or ‘Fuck’.
Fanden tage dig
Literally: The Devil take you
This one is not as commonly used as the two variations above these days, but I just wanted to show how much shit we give the Devil, considering nearly none of us are religious.
It’s probably obvious, but this is used like ‘To hell with you’.
Used like ‘Crap’.
Can be substituted for ‘Pis’ (I’ll let you guys figure that one out).
For Stressing Things
These can not be used on their own, but are often used in front of all kinds of unrelated words to exaggerate them (and add a touch of vulgarity to otherwise innocent statements).
This is another versatile one. It’s used like Brits use ‘bloody’ and Americans use ‘fucking’ when put in front of an adjective. If someone is ‘bloody annoying’, a Dane would call them ‘pisseirriterende’.
Can be substituted for ‘skide-‘.
Literally: ? (I have absolutely no idea)
I’m not even sure there’s an English equivalent for this, but I use this word at least 30 times a day. You add it to a sentence after the verb a bit like you would inject ‘actually’; only it’s considered a little bit crude and it’s not a warning that mansplaining is about to happen.
You’d lightly scold a child for using ‘sgu’, but it’s not really considered inappropiate. I use it both at work and when talking to elderly relatives.
Example: ‘Det ser sgu godt ud!’ (‘That actually looks great!)
Some of these aren’t even considered vulgar, but they’re satisfying nonetheless.
Literally: Clapping hat
This is my favorite. Not because it’s one I use all that often, but because it confuses foreigners who google the term.
Used in place of ‘Idiot’.
(Please go google it.)
Mild way of calling someone an idiot.
Literally: Power idiot
This one is considered more crass, but sometimes you just gotta let a power idiot know they’re acting like a power idiot.
Used like ‘Moron’ or ‘Retard’, but without being an offensive term for people with learning disabilities.
(We got those, too, but I won’t include them. I’m only teaching you terms you can use without being a giant Kraftidiot.)
Used like ‘Asshole’.
Danish also uses words for ‘bitch’, ‘whore’, ‘pig’ and a variety of sexual slurs for swearing, but they’re mostly used by teenagers and people who got dropped on their head as children, so I’m not going to teach them to you. I prefer my cursing to have a certain amount of dignity.
So see you later, klaphatte!