The Danish state often exclaim that foreigners do not like to stay in Denmark. As many of them are cash-cows, educated expensively abroad, paying top rate tax as soon as they arrive and leaving before they need a pension or a nursing home; the government would like to know how to keep them here for at least their five year contract.
Surveys, studies and initiatives are launched. Awful Danes line up to tell foreigners that “Danes are stand-offish and so you need to work harder to get them to like you” at integration events. They are paid money to do this. Money!
Every time they ask, the foreigners reply
- My social life effectively ended as soon as I got here. I guess I have friends who are foreigners but that is bitterly disappointing because I could meet foreigners literally anywhere, I wanted to know DANES, I wanted to get to know DANISH CULTURE by having DANISH friends.
- The immigration authorities are wicked, arbitrary and a law unto themselves. If confronted with it, Kafka would say ‘The Trial wasn’t an instruction manual, you guys’
- Your taxes are quite steep considering the benefits that I personally can obtain.
- Cost of living is too high and the products you can get are below par.
- You keep telling me I am not wanted. At parties. In the newspapers. In shops. In the street. You keep saying that my culture and linguistic heritage should be disregarded. You keep telling me that I should forget everything about my past and become Danish. Even when I do this, it is never quite good enough. My accent is too foreign. My use of knife and fork is different. I don’t particularly want to cycle in the snow. I think mashed up liver spread on black bread is disgusting. I like to drink moderately or not at all. And even if I go all in and do EVERYTHING you say. You still laugh at me when I make minor errors. Right in my little face. Plus you speak too fast and leave me out of everything which makes me feel really rejected.
- Your schools are a bit shit. Your daycare is neglectful and dangerous. Your universities are not as good as they think they are.
Anyway. Those are the running themes and they have been since I got here and apparently have been since they started noticing foreigners were getting the hump and leaving.
One of the parties in the coalition government wanted to find out what the haps were and arranged a “workshop”. This workshop was to find out ONCE AND FOR ALL how to make the process of integration better for foreigners.
This workshop got wildly popular because a Danish journo married a Turk, was badly treated and wrote all about it, to cries of wounded outrage from his lefty confederates. The party said “Yay! We are being proactive here, we have a workshop already planned on just this question. Political point SCORE!” and then “You can’t all come, we’ve only got enough post-it notes for a few dozen.”
At the workshop, according to reports, the chair of the party made a brief speech in Danish (“because my English isn’t very good”), apologising (“because I know a lot of you have only just arrived”) and then explaining that the rest of the evening would be in English to the heckle from a man who runs an Immigrant rights organisation (well, actually, it’s a “Danes should continue to have Danish rights even if they marry a foreigner” organisation. Kartoffel/kartoffel)
“IT SHOULD BE IN DANISH! THE WHOLE THING SHOULD BE IN DANISH! THIS IS DENMARK!”
This was not performance art. And this was not challenged by the chair. In fact, his “mening” was accommodated and the workshop was conducted bilingually, (which is fine, there’s plenty of foreigners who only speak Danish as their second language and no English), Danish first of course. Which was still not good enough for this shit for brains.
From the looks of things, the workshop was just lip service. A lot of “listening” and then nodding and then saying “This is quite a difficult problem, isn’t it?” and then going home.
I think it is hilarious that he reacted like that. I feel guilty for finding it funny because it is pretty serious.
The problem that most foreigners from all backgrounds have in common in Denmark is the angry demand to speak Danish fluently from the start. The lack of empathy. The lack of consideration.
Most countries, you need to speak the language or at least a lingua franca to get by. This can mean in countries where the official language is already a world language (France, Spain, the USA, China, the UK etc etc), you have no wiggle room. The main language is pretty much it. World languages, however, have all the good teaching resources. There are classes, there are books, there are podcasts, there are many many speakers with which you can practise. There’s a market for it, is what I’m saying. You can get rather good rather quickly.
Denmark has a problem in that many (most?) of the language centres are pisspoor, you won’t find the language taught in your country unless you go to university to study it specifically, the books are not very good and the Danish speakers you meet can be impatient or unpleasant when you try to practise. (Not all, some. But you never know which “some” And the nice ones can go too far the other way and make you feel self conscious with faint praise)
So, you get here and you try and try. And you find it difficult at first and then Danes make an orderly line so they can tell you
- Danish is the hardest language in the world, and
- Speak Danish fluently now or I’ll cut you.
That’s one of the problems that almost everyone has. Whether you work at Vestas or sought asylum (or indeed sought asylum and then got a job at Vestas). You are being exhorted to speak perfect Danish whilst being demoralised at every turn. Why would a temporary worker luksus-immigrant want to get fluent in Danish? Run that by me again. They are here for five years max, you oaf. If they can order a coffee, get off their backs. This is an extended sabbatical for them.
And it’s NOT the fucking hardest language in the world. It’s not even top 10 for English speakers. If you can learn English, you can learn frigging Danish. Honestly!
Technical question: How did he hope to hear what the issues for the newest immigrants are if everyone was confined to speaking Danish?