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Lesson Transcript

Anna: Hi everyone, I'm Anna.
Becky: And I'm Becky. Welcome back to DanishClass101.com! This is the All About, lesson 8: Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Danish Society.

Lesson focus

Anna: In this lesson we are going to tell you more about life in Denmark.
Becky: There are so many interesting aspects of Danish society, it's hard to know where to begin!
Anna: Well, since the title of this lesson is "Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Danish Society," I’ve picked five topics.
Becky: (laughs) Alright, what are they?
Anna: Major cities and city life; family life in Denmark; Danish work culture and economy; politics; and generational trends.
Becky: Great! We’ll start with major cities in Denmark.
Anna: Ok. Let’s talk about the three largest and most developed cities in Denmark - Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Odense.
Becky: We have learned that Copenhagen is located on Zealand, Denmark’s largest island. Copenhagen is the capital city.
Anna: Yes. Copenhagen is the country’s largest city, in terms of its size and population.
Becky: Currently, the total population of Copenhagen is nearly 2 million people. It is the economic, political, cultural and educational center of Denmark, and the city has undergone strong urban development, especially during the last decade.
Anna: Copenhagen became prominent in the 12th century, but there have been people living in the area for more than 1000 years. Copenhagen became the official royal residence in 1447 and thereby the capital. It was a convenient location, since at the time it was the center of the Danish kingdom. It has preserved most of its traditional and historic beauty, and the mix between the past and the present is amazing.
Becky: Next, let’s talk about Aarhus.
Anna: Ok. Located in the east side of Jutland, Aarhus is the country’s second largest, and most densely student-populated city. Aarhus is striving towards becoming an even more modern European city of knowledge, through a number of development and construction projects.
Becky: Yeah, the city is currently characterized by a large harbor with both industrial areas and a recreational marina, forests and meadows, sandy beaches along the coastline, and Aarhus River, passing through the inner city.
Anna: So now we’ve given you an overview of Copenhagen and Aarhus. Let’s talk about Odense, the country’s third largest city.
Becky: Ok. Where is it located?
Anna: It’s located on Funen, which is the island between Jutland and Zealand.
Becky: Oh, so if you want to go from Jutland to Zealand or the other way around, you have to cross Funen? It seems like such a hassle!
Anna: It is! But if you can appreciate beautiful landscapes and scenery along your travels, the trip is not too bad. And you can always take the ferry instead!
Becky: Oh, really? I thought my only option was to be trapped in a train for several hours!
Anna: Well, I guess it’s a matter of travel preference, isn’t it?
Becky: I suppose you’re right.
Anna: Actually Denmark has over 400 named islands for you to choose!
Becky: Really!! So, what’s Odense like?
Anna: Well, for one, right underneath the city you can find one of Denmark’s six known former Viking ring castles. Odense is also home to the second largest hospital in Denmark, the Odense Universitetshospital. It’s also home to none other than the world-famous fairytale writer and poet Hans Christian Andersen, whose house attracts many tourists every year.
Becky: I love his fairy tales! Especially the Ugly Duckling.
Anna: That’s a good one! Okay, let’s continue with the next topic now – family life in Denmark.
Becky: Are all Danish families nuclear families?
Anna: The majority still are, but living together as a couple without being married is totally accepted in Danish society. Single parents, families comprised of parents and children from previous marriages, and same sex couples entered into a registered partnership, are also a common thing.
Becky: I see. So who’s the breadwinner of the family?
Anna: Usually, both parents are the family breadwinners, because in that way it is easier for a family to maintain its welfare. But you will still find the stay-at-home mom or even the occasional stay-at-home dad.
Becky: How about the family relationship, between the parents and children, for example?
Anna: Well, men and women have equal rights by law. Therefore, Danes in general, have a high sense of individualism, resulting in very confident and independent young people. At times, though, young Danes can be just a little too confident, especially in relation to their own independence, and sometimes occasionally bite off more than they can chew, especially in regards to drinking, driving and playing with fireworks at New Year’s. Most of them live at home with their parents until they turn 18 or finish high school.
Becky: Okay, why don’t we move on to the Danish economy and work culture? The Danish economy is diverse and mixed, and is mainly based on jobs in the service sector. Denmark was ranked as number 32 on the list of countries sorted by their 2011 GDP per year, succeeded by the rest of Scandinavia.
Anna: But due to the financial crisis, Denmark is currently struggling to find solutions in order to maintain its welfare society and high living standards.
Becky: Yes, and in terms of work culture, Danish people are generally committed to their work. But it is also normal to question management decisions, and provide new ideas and input.
Anna: Our work culture is cooperation-oriented, and the actual working environment is marked by open and informal social conventions.
Becky: I guess a good working environment is important to keep you motivated and committed. If only there were more jobs available!
Anna: Tell me about it. Okay, now let’s move onto politics.
Becky: All right. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, which means that actual royal power is limited and the head of government, the Prime Minister, is the one exercising executive authority together with other cabinet ministers. Denmark’s politics function within a framework of a parliamentary, representative democracy.
Becky: So the Prime Minister is the head of government?
Anna: Yes, exactly. The Prime Minister is elected by the people for a 4-year term, but he or she can be re-elected an unlimited number of times.
Becky: So what does the Queen do?
Anna: Well, the Queen is the head of state, but only has an essential ceremonial role to fulfill, with restricted power.
Becky: So who is more powerful?
Anna: The Prime Minister, of course. He or she is the one exercising executive authority together with other cabinet ministers.
Becky: Okay, we’re getting to the last topic now...
Anna: …Generational trends. Constantly seeking new markets and ways to sell their products, Danish companies are very focused on coming up with new ideas and innovation.
Becky: Denmark, in general, is currently striving towards creating more jobs for the people and becoming more visible in the world, by offering more diverse cultural experiences, living up to international standards while still staying green, and attracting more tourists and business to the country.
Anna: Well, with that, we’ve covered 5 important aspects of Danish society.


Anna: We hope you learned a lot and enjoyed this lesson.
Becky: Yes, and be sure to join us to learn more about Denmark in the next lesson!
Anna: See you next time!
Becky: Thanks for listening, bye.
Anna: Vi ses!