It's been kind of fun to see the word 'Danish' in print and in the media lately. I've been trying to find books on line in Danish, so that I can practice my reading skills, and what I found out while surfing the net, is that it has been deemed by 'the powers that be' that publishing books in danish is not profitable, and so publishers may cease to do so! Hopefully this is simply an alarmist threat. To stop publishing in danish would pose a serious challenge to the survival of the language! The Danes are a small people, sort of the nationalistic equivalent of a tribe. I'm worried now about their cultural survival.
My Danish friend, Phil, says not to worry that the Danes have weathered many storms. Perhaps my Malayalam experience in India should teach me that a small people with an odd alphabet and indiosyncratic language patterns CAN survive and thrive! Now that Amma has come along and published hundreds, perhaps thousands, of songs in Malayalam that are sung all over the world, I feel a boost that Malayalam can survive, and perhaps Danish also.
About this recent furor over the Danish cartoon...
...it is becoming clear that the real issue is simply that Mohammed was 'portrayed' as an 'illustration.' The Muslims have grave injunctions against graven images - perhaps you didn't know - there can be no illustration of anything, no portraits or statues, of anybody or anything in their culture.
Back to the subject of Danish humor...it's very dry and it's very deprecating: self-deprecating, and deprecating of others. I love my old Danish language laerebog (textbook) because it starts right in with danish idiom, like the 'belonging to' thing. Also from Lesson Two here is an example of how you have to be able to laugh at yourself in Denmark: (translation) Little Peter's grandmother has cut her hair short. She asks him the question, 'How do I look?' 'Good!' says Peter. 'Now you don't look like an old woman anymore.' 'Well, what do I look like?' she asks in reply. 'Now you look like an old man,' replies little Peter.
Not terribly PC; I wonder how pc the danes are now - my laerebog was written in 1972. Of course, as mentioned earlier, part of my study of danish is meant as an aid to reconnecting 'inside' with my father, and his heritage (my inheritance) and it is a 'stance' I find 'in here.' So how it relates to the contemporary danish scene is more a matter of curiosity than substance for me.
One more remark vis-a-vis danish cartoons. My father used to get these absolutely awful cartoon greeting cards from his sister and sister-in-law in Denmark. They generally showed these totally grotesque, slightly insane looking caricatures of people, who were obviously supposed to represent them, ie they were usually of blonde crazy-looking women. I don't quite understand it, but I think it's part of the danish self-deprecating thing: this is their humor. Also, these cards may have related to their 'troll' thing, which I don't pretend to understand. I'm thinking maybe 'trolls' are a droll way of talking about what happens to us as we grow older. We kind of turn into trolls sooner or later, what? The Danes are very 'civilized and progressive,' according to my friend Phil, so maybe the crazy inner trolls represent all the internal contradictions that we experience as human beings that have been smoothed over by the mild-mannered danish good-humor.