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Happy Friday everyone!

My guest today is Lennart Kiil.  Lennart is a journalist and science writer currently living in Copenhagen.  He grew up monolingual in Danish, and currently only speaks Danish at home, but when he was a child his family moved to Sacramento so his father could train to be an F-16 pilot, and Lennart says he learned English by “talking to other kids.”

He says one of his favorite things about his language is that “it’s easy to mumble in Danish and you can speak it without much energy expenditure (you don’t need to move your mouth a lot) – in effect you can maintain conversations while very tired.” (That made me laugh.)  He said we might be surprised that Danish is very closely related to English, even though they “do not sound similar to the untrained ear.”

One of the things non-Danish speakers find difficult about the language is the discrepancy between written and spoken Danish; Lennart says that “words are often spelled differently than they are pronounced.”  And since he’s a full-time writer, written Danish is something he’s very familiar with!

The sample Lennart is sharing with us, in fact, is an article he recently wrote.  He says he thought people would find it interesting to read about Vikings in Normandy. 🙂 I think they will too (I did!)  Here is Lennart reading an excerpt from the article, followed by the Danish text and an English translation.  Enjoy!

Rollo blev født i år 846. Han blev senere en stor dansk vikingehøvding på egnen omkring Faxe. Allerede som 21-årig måtte han efter uoverenstemmelser med kongen forlade Danmark.

I stedet for at surmule så Rollo udvisningen som en mulighed for at prøve kræfter med verden omkring ham. Han samlede sine mænd og sejlede sine vikingeskibe ned langs vesterhavet forbi Holland og op ad den franske flod Seinen, der udmunder i den engelske kanal.

Det viste sig at være en rigtig beslutning, for landområderne omkring floden var ret ubeskyttede. Her lå mange klostre inde med store samlinger af rigdomme, der var lige til at plyndre for Rollo. Desuden var store dele af Frankrig svækket af interne stridigheder i perioden.

Rollo og hans flåde af bredbundede vikingeskibe bevægede sig op ad Seinen, der for en flod egnede sig usædvanligt godt til sejllads. Rollo og hans mænd kunne derfor bevæge sig hurtigt og ubesværet i de fleksible vikingeskibe, der både kunne sejles og roes. Vikingeskibene var lige så velegnede til floder som til åbent hav.

English translation:
“Rollo was born in the year 846. He later became an important danish viking chieftain in the area around Faxe. Only 21 years old after disagreements with the king he had to leave Denmark.

Instead of sulking Rollo saw this as an opportunity to try his strength against the world around him. He gathered his men and sailed his viking ships down along the west coast past the Netherlands and up the french river Seine, which ends in the English Channel.

It turned out to be the right decision, because the land along the river was rather unprotected. Many monasteries had collections and riches that Rollo could easily plunder. Furthermore, large parts of France was vulnerable due to internal fighting during the epoch.

Rollo and his fleet of viking ships moved up along the Seine, which was unusually, for a river, well suited for sailing. Rollo and his men could therefore move fast and without difficulty in the flexible viking ships, which were made for both sailing and rowing. The viking ships did just as good on rivers as on the open sea.”

Thank you for sharing, Lennart!  Danish language and Viking ships are the perfect way to finish out the week.