Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Rasmussen again and again

Copenhagen Cityscape
Originally uploaded by torkristensen wrote that “Mr Rasmussen resigned on Saturday and his successor, finance minister Lars Lokke [sic!] Rasmussen – the third consecutive premier with that surname – now has a tough act to follow, particularly with the economy and the minority government’s popularity hitting new lows.”

As a native speaker of Danish, I hadn’t even noticed that this is the case.

Of course I know their names – Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Lars Løkke Rasmussen – but as everybody else in Denmark I think of them as Poul Nyrup, Anders Fogh and Lars Løkke, and I find it utterly bizarre and confusing when they in English-language media are all referred to as Mr. Rasmussen.

What’s happening is that surnames ending in -sen are so common that most people who have a less common middle name use that for most purposes, especially if their first name is common (such as Poul, Anders or Lars).

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