Friday, May 29, 2009


Went to Danish class last night and the teacher was describing the shirts that some of the guys were wearing so that we could learn the various adjectives - practical knowledge I guess if you wish to buy a specific type of shirt and lack eyes with which to view the merchandise.

He started with the obvious - describing it as a striped shirt. I think everyone can agree that for this particular shirt, 'striped' would be the apt adjective:

However, the next shirt he came to, and asked us to describe, led to a bit of discussion...

Okay, more of a little argument, and okay, it was just really me being difficult again. Sort of like the time another Danish teacher attempted to tell me that basketball and volleyball could be described as similar games, which he based solely on the fact that both have a 'ball', and I argued that in reality, basketball is more closely related to hockey, whereas volleyball would be more closely related to badminton. Yeah, I'm like that sometimes, and if I were the teacher I'd probably want to slap me upside the head, but that's not allowed in Denmark and besides, I'm the class entertainment. Without me, they'd all be asleep 30 minutes into the 2-1/2 hour class. But, I digress. Back to the shirts and my point.

We needed the equivalent of striped with which to describe the above shirt. So I said "på engelsk, det er 'plaid'" and then I quickly grabbed my dansk/engelsk dictionary to look up the danish word for plaid. Which, lo and behold is.. wait for it... PLAID. The teacher had decided to use another adjective to describe the shirt.. he chose "ternet". So with some speedy little page flipping, I found 'ternet' on the danish side of the book, which officially translates to "checkered".

When I said... "No no, that's plaid!" - and I then showed him that the danish dictionary translated the english plaid to the danish plaid, he looked at me strangely and said I was incorrect. Grumble.

Now, 'checkered' to me is the pattern you see on a flag at the racetrack - not the shirt pictured above. A checkered shirt, in my opinion, looks like this:

THAT is checkered. The one above it is plaid. Hmmph.

In Danish class, one of the important things we are taught is that when you have an opinion, you also need argumentation. So, I present to you, my argumentation:


1. any fabric woven of differently colored yarns in a crossbarred pattern.
2. a pattern of this kind.
3. a long, rectangular piece of cloth, usually with such a pattern and worn across the left shoulder by Scottish Highlanders.

4. having the pattern of a plaid.


1. marked by numerous and various shifts or changes; variegated: a checkered career.
2. marked by dubious episodes; suspect in character or quality: a checkered past.
3. marked with squares: a checkered fabric.
4. diversified in color; alternately light and shadowed: the checkered shade beneath trees. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

His argumentation was that 'plaid' was only used for certain plaids, not all plaids (as if that makes any sense), as in the definition found under the NOUN plaid (3. a long, rectangular piece of cloth, usually with such a pattern and worn across the left shoulder by Scottish Highlanders.), not the adjective, mind you. HA!

So, what's your opinion?

(And, btw, if you're a certain Canadian reader who has a certain PLAID skirt wearing scot for a hubby, feel free to chime in!)
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