First up I’d like to say that I think the actual content on the Oatly marketing campaign popping up all over Copenhagen (and other European cities) is inspired, eye-catching and disruptive. However my beef is that the adverts are all written in English regardless of which country they are in.Every time I see them (and it is every day at the moment) I feel slightly irritated by the in your face nature of the English language in a country where it is not the first language. I asked on Instagram what people thought about this and the comments were interesting. One person agreed that the blanket use of English in the adverts was lazy but as someone who doesn’t speak a lot of Danish she appreciated being able to understand an advert. It is comforting to see something you understand in a sea of things you don’t but surely the target audience isn’t a minority of people who can’t speak the local language. Others weren’t that bothered and others felt it was incongruous.
I suppose I am playing devil’s advocate somewhat as I’m not Danish. However as someone who moved here almost ten years ago when there was hardly anything written in English (for example now many websites have the choice of English or Danish this simply didn’t happen then) it forced me (although I was a willing participant) to learn Danish to be able to understand most things. With the move towards more English language materials and also the spoken word, the perceived need to understand Danish as a foreigner is diminishing.
There is a question mark about what this means in the long-term for the Danish language. With freedom of movement in Europe, more and more companies are operating in English to attract talent, which economically is understandable. But at the same time when the choice comes between a Danish speaker (but not necessarily a Dane) and a non Danish speaker the former often gets the job in some companies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this especially if you are from Germany or France where these adverts also appear in English. Is it a worrying precedence or doesn’t it matter? Should it be considered inevitable that the languages of smaller countries will become second to a more widely spoken language such as English? Tell me what you think.