At Global Lingo we really care about global warming, so we want to help Ed Miliband avoid any cultural gaffs as he takes his place at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in Denmark on December the 7th.

With so many nations gathering and the future of the planet at stake, these talks can’t afford to be jeopardised by any cultural or linguistic misunderstandings. Meetings and discussions between two English speaking parties are difficult at the best of times. Add in another language and there will be issues, but at the Climate Summit all 192 member states of the United Nations will be represented, so the levels of confusion could easily rise. One slip between languages could mean that an agreement at the Summit could be delayed or even scuppered. And on something which has such worldwide importance, this would be a disaster.

This is where professional linguists come into their own. Professional minute-takers, interpreters, transcribers, and translators – like the ones Global Lingo use for all their projects – are trusted not only to communicate meaning but to ensure that stylistic nuances are conveyed, guaranteeing that the whole message gets across.

Covering all the potential issues surrounding the multitude of languages in use at the summit would take up far too much room to cover in this blog post. But to help Ed Miliband and all the other delegates attending the summit, here are a few tips on Danish culture.

Danish cultural issues to consider

The Danes believe there is a proper and correct way to behave in public situations. If Ed Miliband or any of the other delegates break the rules, they can expect to be pulled up. This national trait can make debate quite difficult, because the Danes don’t like to raise their voice or do things to call attention to themselves, which may well be frustrating for some of the more flamboyant delegates.

Mr Miliband is driving for a full treaty to be drawn up within months of the summit’s formal end: “Not at the end of next year. I want it as soon as possible.” This should suit the Danes as they like to get down to business quickly and avoid the usual small-talk about the ‘X-factor finalists’ or ‘golf handicap’ typical of British meetings.

Having never met Mr Miliband we can’t vouch for his handshake, but we’re presuming it’s no wet lettuce, which is good because if there’s one thing the Danish like, as do the British, it’s a firm handshake. But make sure to shake the ladies’ hands first.

And once Mr Miliband has met his fellow delegates we’re sure there’ll be a few banquets to attend. So here are a few tips to ensure he doesn’t upset his Danish hosts. Luckily most of these match our own table manners.

  • Always keep your hands visible when eating.
  • Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table, and no elbows!
  • Try everything, but don’t take too much (see the following points).
  • Expect to be offered seconds, you won’t offend if you politely decline.
  • Clear your plate, the Danish don’t like wasting food.
  • Don’t start your food until the host gives the traditional toast of ‘Skol’.
  • When toasting, raise your glass and make eye contact with the people seated close to you.