30 July 2009

Throw Off Your Chains

Chain Repair
Her chain fell off so she calmly pulled up onto the sidewalk to fiddle it back into place.

The bicycle is such an integral part of life that the Danish language features many references to our two-wheeled transport tools. A couple of examples:

You can say "the chain fell off for me today..." and you mean that you were completely out of it and couldn't do anything right.

If you want to give someone 'the back wheel', you really want to show them up/surpass them. In business, in sport, whatever. Meaning you'll zip past them and they'll see your back wheel.

Copenhagen Corner
Copenhagen corner moments on Nytorv [New Square].


Monika Poppy said...

i really want and old vintage cykle :/


cyclingred said...

I think that is very interesting how the language of bicycling is a common reference point for Danish language in general.

Unknown said...

I'd love to make this my desktop background...any chance I can get a version for that resolution? I, of course, won't do anything else with the image...

Gratistotal said...

you have to write a danish bike dictionary

jarvinho said...

It's a shame for this girl and her oily fingers that properly tensioning your chain is not so ingrained in Danish culture.

Kiwehtin said...

Iknow French has "perdre les pédales", meaning to get so angry lose all control of yourself, i.e. "fly off the handle". I have trouble thinking of any other bike-related metaphors in French or English though...

Otto Cilindri said...

I was just admiring her stripy legs. What was everybody saying?

Anonymous said...

To Kiwethin, another one :
"avoir la tête dans le guidon" something probably coming from the Tour de France early days. It means that you are in a rush and not paying attention to what happens around you

tine stevnhoved said...

The first picture reminds me that copenhagen is in strong need of af mobile bicycle support service... for inspiration:


Let me know if I can find it already!

tine stevnhoved

Anonymous said...

Danish to American translation:

The chain fell off; Rode off the rails (a railway metaphor)

Showed them my back wheel; Showed them my tail lights (an automobile metaphor)

American bike culture lasted maybe 20 years and died about a century ago. Even our American Automobile Association is a spin off of the League of American Wheelmen (the national cyclists rights group, largely responsible for the first roadway pavings in America), founded by LAW members who abandoned bicycles when automobiles became readily available.

Perhaps this century will mark the resurgence of recognition that the simple, elegant bicycle represents the paragon of man's individual transportation engineering achievements.


Milton Pires said...

The Portugese have also a couple of references to cycling:

"Ter boa pedalada" translates something like "to have good pedaling" and it's said about someone who can keep up a good pace.

"Passar-se dos carretos" may be translated "skipping sprockets" and it means of someone who lost it.

"Fica lá com a bicicleta!" translates "you can keep the bike!". It's used when you want to end a discussion that is leading to nowhere. Maybe it's because a bike is such a simple and cheap item.

Anonymous said...

"Han cykler rundt i det" - He's biking all over it = He's messing up his presentation, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

"At gå op på den høje klinge" - To shift into higher (bicycle) gear.