Fourth of July in Denmark / Don't Stop the Carnival

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


This is Bob Doughty. On our program today ...

We play songs from the show "Don't Stop the Carnival"...

answer a question about an English expression ...

and ... tell how an American holiday is celebrated in Europe.

Fourth of July in Denmark


Next Wednesday is the Fourth of July America's Independence Day. Americans celebrate the anniversary of their declaration of independence from Britain in Seventeen-Seventy-Six.

Each year, Americans hold parties to celebrate the Fourth of July. They fly American flags, sing patriotic songs and light fireworks. It might surprise you to learn that America's Independence Day also is celebrated in Denmark. Shirley Griffith explains.


From the middle Eighteen-Eighties until Nineteen-Hundred, one of every ten people in Denmark moved to the United States. They were poor farmers seeking a new economy and a better life. Most settled in America's middle west.

In Nineteen-Twelve, these immigrants created an organization called the Danish-American Society. It bought land back home in Denmark near the city of Aalborg, about two-hundred-fifty kilometers northwest of Copenhagen. The society gave the land to Denmark on the condition that America's Independence Day would be celebrated there every year.

Denmark's ruler at the time, King Christian, agreed. He established a national park on the land. He said the park would represent the friendship between the two nations.

That is why America's Independence Day has been celebrated at Rebild National Park and in the city of Aalborg ever since.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of visitors have joined with Danes in the celebration at Rebild Park. American and Danish flags fly side by side. People eat American and Danish food. They listen to speeches. Speakers in the past have included former presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan and actor Danny Kaye.

Celebrations in nearby Aalborg extend over a few days. Events include concerts and shows. This year, the United States Air Force Band will take part in the celebration.

The final event of the Fourth of July celebration in Aalborg is the same as in the United States -- fireworks. Then the nation of Denmark ends its celebration of America's Independence Day until next year.



Our VOA listener question this week comes in an E-mail from Indonesia. Antonius Japarizal would like us to explain the words "two-by-four." He says he has heard it in the sentence, "You have to use a two-by-four to get his attention."

This question really belongs in our program, "Words and their Stories," but we will answer it anyway. A two-by-four is a piece of wood. The name comes from the measurement of the wood -- two inches by four inches. That is about five centimeters by ten centimeters. Or two times as wide as it is thick.

A two-by-four is usually cut to the length you need. It is used in houses and other buildings. A two-by-four is very common. You can buy it in almost any store in the United States that sells building supplies and wood.

Now to explain the sentence. Let us say you work with a young man who has not been performing well at work. He can think of nothing but a young woman he recently met. All he can think of is the next time he will see her or talk to her on the telephone. His mind has only room for thoughts of the young woman.

You might say of such a person, "You have to hit him with a two-by-four to get him to pay attention."

The English language is full of such sayings. Some of them are very funny. Here are two more.

Let us say this same young man has a new dog. It is a nice dog, but not very smart. The young man has been trying to train the dog. But the dog can not learn to obey the most simple command.

You might say the dog is as stupid "as a sack full of hammers." A hammer is a tool you use to hit nails into a two-by-four. But a hammer can not think or do anything. A sack full of hammers is really useless.

You could also say the same dog is a real "air head." This means the dog has no brain, only air in its head.

All three of these expressions are similar. You could use any one of them to explain the young man who thinks of nothing but his new lady friend. But you get the idea. I do not have to hit you with a two-by-four to get your attention, because you are not an airhead. And no one who listens to Special English is as dumb as a sack full of hammers.

"Don't Stop The Carnival"


American singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett loves the Caribbean area and its music. A few years ago, he and writer Herman Wouk worked together to produce a musical play. The story was based on Mr. Wouk's book, "Don't Stop the Carnival." The show was first performed in the American state of Florida. Now it has opened in the Bahamas. Jimmy Buffett says it might go to Broadway in New York City sometime in the future. Steve Ember tells us about it.


"Don't Stop the Carnival" is about a man named Norman Paperman who leaves New York City and buys a hotel in the Caribbean. The show starts with the chorus singing about him.


Jimmy Buffett also owned a hotel in the Caribbean. It burned to the ground. Norman Paperman also has nothing but trouble with his hotel. This song tells about his problem with the water supply.


"Don't Stop the Carnival" is a funny show about how Norman operates his hotel and organizes his life. He finally decides to go back to New York. We leave you now with the final song from the show "Don't Stop the Carnival." It is called "Time To Go Home."



This is Bob Doughty. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.

Voice of America Special English