Denmark has had an incredible Tour de France so far. From the first three beautiful stages on Danish soil, to Magnus Cort’s multiple breakaways, a win, and polka dot jersey to Mads Pedersens’ victory, it’s safe to say the Scandinavian country is having a good go at the TdF.
And of course, Jonas Vingegaard is in yellow, having (at least for now) dethroned the unstoppable Tadej Pogačar .
But everyone is saying his name wrong.
Good news, grasshoppers! Uncle Matt’s parents happen to be from Denmark, and he even spent a few years living in the land of Lego. Fun fact: Lego is a play on the words “leger god,” which means “play well.”
So gather around the table, throw some herring on your rye bread, grab some pastries and let’s dig in. Fun fact two: There is no such thing as a “danish” in Denmark. There are just called pastries-of which there are many. Fun fact three: the Danes didn’t even invent the Danish-style pastries. In 1850, Danish bakery workers went on strike, and the bakeries hired replacement workers from Vienna. That’s why one of the most famous Danish pastries–similar to what we call “Danishes” here, are known as Wienerbrød, literally Viennese bread.
Anywho, back to our boy Jonas.
Gaard is a common part of many Danish names. It translates to yard, or farm. So the Jumbo-Visma’s rider’s last name basically means a wing yard. Which would be a great name for a poultry farmer. Unfortunately though, Vingegaard’s background is fish–he worked at a fish market when he was coming up through the ranks in cycling.
To say his name–the Jonas is going to be with a Y. So Y-Own-us. The last name: Vinge sounds like Inga, with a V. Then gaard is basically like saying “go” but with a very soft r at the end.
Mads Pedersen is another name that many screw up, but it’s easier than you think . In Danish, the d in Mads is actually silent. So it’s actually closer to “mass.” The “ed” in Pedersen becomes a th sound, almost like Pethersin. The hero of the first week of the Tour, Magnus Cort, would be “Maw-nuss Coart.”
There are many other famous Danish cyclists with names that have been butchered over the years. Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis is “bee-yarn-uh” and “reese.” But don’t worry. Danes are used to people messing up their names, and since most of them are polyglots, they will be fine. Plus, even though the majority of them speak English, even my older relatives struggle with my name, “Matthew.” It ends up sound like a sneeze: Machoo!
Here’s a nifty little video with some pronunciations of some of the well-known Danish riders.