Smiley Smorgasboard: a note on cultural differences.

If you’re planning on coming to Denmark and of course making lots of Danish friends through various forms of cultural immersion, there’s something you need to know about emoticon usage.


Danes LOVE emoticons. And not in an ironic, or I’m being silly using so many smileys kind of way, using smileys in any of your informal written communication is normal and expected. This includes your friends, host parents, Danish teachers and DIS administrators.

I’ve come up with two different hypotheses on why Danes love emoticons.

1. It’s because they’re so happy that they need to express it in text messages and letters to make up for the stone faced expressions people wear in public.

2.  Danish humor is very sarcastic and dark, so conveying it in a text message may require a smiley face to insure that no one misreads the intention of your sarcastic joke.

You should also be aware that a “winky face” is not nearly as suggestive in a Danish context as it is in an American context. of course it can be used for the same innuendos, but it can also be used in an innocent context. Unknown

I even have testimony from one of my friends who told me that when we first started texting, she was always worried that I was angry because I never used emoticons in my messages. Luckily, I tend to be particularly susceptible to picking up other peoples habits, sayings and mannerisms, so I learned to incorporate klistermærke og humørikon  into my written communications over my time here. I’ll just have to remember not to use them when emailing my professors at home!

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