Introducing a new word: Grøndansk

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Photo from Arctic Import

Greenland, it’s time for a new term to enter the urban dictionary: Grøndansk.

In honour of Culture Night tonight, I present this word complete with suggested definitions. I actually have no idea if it’s a term used before but no one seems to recognise it when I try it out. Greenland, you really should 🙂

Why a new word? It is the recognition that Greenland and Denmark share a long, sometimes complicated but still rich intertwining heritage that in turn produces something completely unique.

Suggested definitions:
#1. Being Grøndansk: The acknowledgement of a sometimes undervalued group of people in Greenland
#2. Putting a Greenlandic touch on a Danish concept
#3. The special Greenlandic way of speaking Danish – ilaa?

Another Facebook commentator suggested this: Grøndansk er når Danland og Grønmark mødes. Grøndansk is where Danland and Greenmark meet. 🙂

Explanation for #1: Being Grøndansk
There are so many Greenlanders who have mixed heritage. Diversity, in languages and identity should be seen as a positive thing – and a grøndansker is someone who is proud of this diversity. It is more than okay to have a Danish AND Greenlandic parent and to accept both roots. In fact, it is a benefit as you have a head start to being cosmopolitan and can understand the nuances of both cultures. You are a citizen of the world.

You could also be grøndansk if you are a Dane who has lived in Greenland for so long that you feel more allegiance to this Arctic land and its people than where birthing took place. You knew from the moment you stepped off the plane in Kangerlussuaq that you were home. A grøndansker has socialised into Greenlandic culture, s/he understands its values, customs and humour. You have so much to give to the country you love.

Or, you could have been born in Greenland from two Danish parents. You may be white in skin colour but looks can be deceiving as Greenland courses through your blood and veins. You always have to justify that you are a Greenlander, which gets tiring – can’t people just accept who you are and that Greenland is your home just as much as theirs?

Explanation for #2: Putting a Greenlandic touch on a Danish concept
Hygge is a Danish thing, but in Greenland they also totally love to ‘hygge’. In Denmark it might be very cosy with candle tea lights, coffee, tea and cake – but you can be fairly sure that there they try to make conversation (even in the quieter parts of Jutland). I think for Danes, the cosy times also arise from the conversations had. The grøndansk version of hygge could be coffee served with cake or dried fish or mattak, and the option of enjoying each other’s company and meal silently. Note that I said option, as it can also be grøndansk to have a room full of cackling laughter. ‘Totalt hygge – grøndansk stil’.

Or, it could be applied literally. For example, Greenlanders seem to love Danish design, from PH lamps to fancy Arne Jakobsen egg chairs. However, where they can ‘greenlandify’ it they will. A good case in point is the egg chair with seal skin that was sold in Arctic Living before. Or having a home with both Danish furniture and tupilaks, soapstone figures and souvenirs from hunting.

Explanation for #3. The special Greenlandic way of speaking Danish – ilaa?
The Greenlandic language uses lots of words from Danish. It should also be acknowledged that Greenlanders speak the Danish language in their own way complete with nose scrunching and eyebrow raising. They have their own unique accent, their own pace of talking (generally slower), and they throw in Greenlandic words all the time. So just as Singapore has Singlish and Denmark has Danglish, Greenland has Grøndansk. It is a pigeon language born out of usage and practicality.

Anyway, these are just a gathering of observations summed up into one word.

As a little experiment, if you think this word ‘grøndansk’ could stick, can you share this article? And comment below how you think it could be used in a sentence! 🙂

3 thoughts on “Introducing a new word: Grøndansk

  1. I never knew Greenland was that diverse and many there have mixed heritage, and borrowing words from the Danish language. I wonder if it ever gets confusing for tourists who visit Greenland and hear how the locals speak. I’ve heard of tourists in Singapore that Singlish is hard to follow, it tends to be spoken fast. Up until this time I thought English was widely spoken here and the main language.

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