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The view from the outside August 2, 2009

Posted by globalizer in Denmark.
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After having lived the past 11 years in the United States, I find myself quite often telling fellow Danes that they don’t realize how comparatively well-designed and sound most public policiesĀ  in Denmark are. They will complain about (to me) very minor and temporary glitches in health care for instance, and my attempts to tell them how well off Denmark is compared to the United States fall completely flat – because it is impossible to convey just how screwed up the US is in this area.

I am sure most Danes will be flabbergasted about this.


Cultural differences May 4, 2009

Posted by globalizer in Crazy stories, Denmark.
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Breaking radio silence after a bit of a hiatus in the postings. Caused by a move from North Carolina to California, and a new job.

In that connection I have been reading the study guide for drivers to prepare for the written test I have to pass to get a California driver license, and one item in particular struck me: in California it is actually legal to park in the bike lane!

Quite apart from this sort of defeating the entire purpose of having a bike lane, it served to remind me of the significant cultural differences that still exist between the US and Denmark – especially since I had just read this.

The gap in bicycle culture (not to mention the question of imbibing alcoholic beverages in public places) looks more like a Mariana trench. And this is California, for crying out loud…

Talk about doing your duty as a citizen… November 13, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Denmark.
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Nothing related to software here at all – just a tidbit from the election in Denmark today:

A woman about to give birth persuaded the ambulance driver to swing by the voting place on the way to the hospital. The supervisors brought the ballot and the ballot box out to the ambulance, so she was able to vote before proceeding to the hospital and giving birth.

That’s the kind of dedication that used to result in voting percentages in the nineties in Denmark. Lately it has dropped down into the upper eighties, but compared to the US it is still pretty good šŸ™‚

Dutch, Danish, same difference February 16, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Danish, Denmark, Language.

Later update, October 11, 2009:

I just found one new, potential factor contributing to the confusion. I see that somebody found this blog post by searching for “are windmills dutch or danish”. And since the Dutch are famous for their historical windmills, while a Danish company is now the world’s number oneĀ  maker of wind turbines, and Denmark today generates about 20% of its electricity with wind turbines, I can see how that could be a cause for some confusion. Given that a lot of people are confused to begin with.

Update, October 19, 2007:

As a public service announcement to the many people who seem to find this post after doing searches like “Is Dutch and Danish the same language” and “difference between Dutch and Danish”:

No, those are two completely separate and different languages.

Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands (or Holland), while Danish is spoken in Denmark. They are both Germanic languages, and they are both spoken in small, flat countries located in the Northwestern part of Europe – but they are still different. And while speakers of the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are usually able to understand each other (with good will exhibited by both speaker and listener), Danish and Dutch are not closely enough related for that to be the case for those two languages. Single words may resemble each other, etc., but that’s about it.

Original post:

Just yesterday I was reminded once again how difficult people from the US find it to distinguish between Dutch and Danish. As I joined a conference call, a Danish colleague and I were initially the only ones on, so we conversed happily in Danish until a US colleague joined, at which point I said something like “sorry for babbling in Danish”. To which he responded, as expected: “Oh, that’s the language spoken in the Netherlands, right?”

I can’t count the number of times something like this has happened to me – or the other way around, of course, having people think Dutch is spoken in Denmark. A few years ago when I was on an extended translation verification test along with testers from about 15 other countries, our daily meetings with the development team became the source of a running bet between the Dutch tester and me about how many times his and my defects would be confused.

I have never quite understood the reason for this almost total inability to distinguish between the two language names; after all, the two words are not that similar, and the country names are totally different.

But there definitely seems to be some kind of blind spot with respect to the “D-word” in this context.

Many Eyes January 25, 2007

Posted by globalizer in Denmark, Social software.
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Just came across this interesting demo site on IBM’s AlphaWorks. Looks like one of the more interesting and potentially useful varieties of Web 2.0 social software. Only tangentially related to software globalization, of course, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out the really nifty Blog This feature:

The map shows income inequality by country, using the Gini index (in this case the CIA version), and I was happy to see Denmark had the lowest number (indication the highest degree of income equality).

InformationWeek has a short review of this and other IBM research projects here.