- SINK OR SWIM
Are the Danes “inappropriate”, “in-your-face” and “rude”?
Perhaps not, according to Danish Humour – Sink or Swim, written by humour researcher Lita Lundquist and Helen Dyrbye, principal author of The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Danes.
Have you ever wondered why the open-minded Danes, with their hygge and easy-going nature, are so often “left patching up”, as one European Member of Parliament put it, after getting well out of their depth in polite conversation?
Lundquist and Dyrbye attribute this to the Danes’ humour socialisation – their upbringing, society and puzzling language – and vividly illustrate their claims using plenty of amusing failed humour events among Danes and their international colleagues.
With the help of philosophers, psychologists, linguists, audio clips and a giggle or two, this intriguing combination of precise theory and capsized real-life episodes explains in detail but from a safe distance, what makes the Danes, their language and their humour so ‘special’. In a broader context, it also gives pointers on how to Sink or Swim when using humour in international waters.
This entertaining but enlightening book is for:
- Anyone working with Danes
- Expats and students in or relocating to DK
- Business Danes who have been labelled “rude” before (or suspect they have), as a fun but serious gift for international colleagues
- Communicators interested in language, humour and cultural differences
- Fans of The Xenophobe's Guide to the Danes (4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon) who want more
- Readers seeking theoretical tools from recent humour studies
- Anyone lucky enough to be married to a Dane
- Danes in mixed marriages who need a lifeline
An academic light, in-depth exposé, featuring funny, sometimes risqué, real-life incidents and hard-core research, this book is sure to get discussions of corporate (humour) cultures, ‘keeping an open mind’ and positive teamwork moving.
Buy the book
"It’s aimed at anyone who is in a relationship with, lives with, studies with or works with a Dane; anyone planning to relocate to Denmark or conduct business in the country; Danes who do not understand why they come across as rude, particularly in business circles; and fans in general of cultural differences: both linguistic and humorous."
Career suicide checklist
Humour events: sinking or swimming?
Does your humour fit in? A question of humour socialisation
Your humour voyage
The authors, their ambitions and empirical data
Our goals and reasons for revisiting humorous 'crime scenes'
PART I. The 'charms' of Danish humour
Chapter 1. Happiness, alcohol and sex
A heady Danish humour cocktail
Danish conversational humour has no limits
So what is humour?
Surprise and incongruity
More Danish wisdom with lashings of irony
Humour in an academic context
Chapter 2. Authority, formality and privacy
Police, passports and personal comments
Humour events – from failure to success
Humour and the private life/work life divide
Professional roles and private personas
Is it hot in here?
Cancelling a humour event
Work culture incongruity
Chapter 3. Rocking the boat with laughter
What a circus!
The relief theory of laughter
The superiority theory of laughter
Relief or superiority?
Laughing in Parliaments
Anchor points from Part I
PART II. The strengths of Danish society
Chapter 4. The Danes and their "Great Humour"
Another round in the Danish political circus
Travelling light with Danish politicians
Humour in international politics
The triple A model
"Shamelessly rude" Danish humour – straight from the horse's mouth
Humour breeding and Great Humour as an attitude to life
How Danes are bred into their Great Humour
What makes you smile?
Who is in charge of our humour breeding?
Fear and fun in humour breeding
Chapter 5. Humour civilisation
The towel, the turban and a twist of Danish humour
Danes' dumb-smart comments
From Great Humour to national styles of humour
The civilising process
A quick glance at Danish history
Denmark as a tribe seen from outside
Danes and their campfire mentality
Trust and the French court society
British society in broad brushstrokes
From humour breeding and socialisation to humour civilisation
Campfire, court and clowns
More shaking up the mix with royal Danish humour
Chapter 6. Humour, irony and self-irony in Danish management
A Danish dress-code faux pas
Self-irony as a Danish antidote to self-importance
Self-irony as a "reflexive management practice"
Roles and personas
In humour and irony, we trust
A business merger comes unstuck
A good leader
Other norms in workplace culture
Humour as a leadership tool in other hands
Win-win or lose out
Performance versus the common good
Anchor points from Part II
PART III. The baffling Danish language
Chapter 7. Language and spontaneous verbal humour
Language and verbal humour – in general
Humour in a foreign language
Using humour – a case for linguistic pragmatics
Logic and conversation
The Cooperative Principle
Conversational implicatures – or 'gangplanks'
The rules of conversation
Conversational humour implicatures
How to interpret Danish irony
Danish humour – gangway!
Chapter 8. Meeting the Danish language
The difficulties of understanding and learning Danish
Say it again, Dane!
Vowelling at the moon
A fish with a catch
Words, words, words
The gender trap
All steamed up
Context is key, but hard to find
Safety in numbers? Not likely
Focus on the positive
Danes speaking foreign languages
A sticky situation
Danes speaking English
Polite conversation and small talk
Goats and kangaroos
Compliments and honesty
The soft Danish 'no'
Chapter 9. Fathoming the Danish language and humour
Misfired Danish humour events – in a lingua franca
Humour warning signals
Verbal triggers that make Danes fit for wit
Danish humour – in Danish
Lars von Trier's missing links
Mobilising a full arsenal to save the French scientist from trauma
Another round of alcohol and sex – in Danish
Small conversational trigger words and their intricate meanings
Small conversational trigger words and Danish-speaking non-Danes
Language and national mentality
Anchor points from Part III
Chapter 10. Conclusion
Reaching port in one piece
Are Danes less tough than they think they are?
Laughter and unlaughter
Be brave but responsible
Land Ho! A happy ending
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