If you’ve ever spent more than 10 minutes on the internet you’ve probably come across the IMHO acronym, an abbreviation of either In My Humble Opinion or In My Honest Opinion. The Danish version of that is In My Little Opinion – min lille mening - but there’s absolutely nothing either humble or honest about it.
IMLO is totalitarian democracy applied to debating. In other cultures with more refined and logically coherent debating traditions, using IMHO before or after you state your point of view in a discussion is a message to the listener that he or she has to judge your opinion with a certain amount of scepticism. Perhaps because you yourself know that it’s based on a limited amount of facts or that the object of debate is beyond the bounds of your area of expertise.
For a Dane, min lille mening is a declaration of war against the listener. It’s a weapon of mass destruction and it’s loaded with the absurd version of egality that dominates Danish culture.
It’s mostly used at the end of discussions when a Dane has failed to support his or her claims with a reasonable amount of evidence or reason. A quick walk-through of the rationale of this phenomenon would look something like this:
Your arguments are better than mine → That gives your opinion a higher status than mine → That’s very undemocratic behaviour of your opinion because in Denmark, we’re all equal → My wretched opinion is a victim of your evil dictator opinion → That’s gives me, not just the right, but the obligation to keep fighting for my opinion even though we both know it’s wrong.
I really hate this aspect of our national character, except for one thing: it can be used to make dull dinner parties a whole lot peppier. If you’re bored with the conversation around the table, lean forward and say something like this:
“You think that dialogue with people that you consider your enemies is a dangerous thing, you say. Well, I think you’re wrong. My opinion is that fighting your enemies with force creates more enemies than you eliminate, but fighting your enemies with open debate has the potential to create new friends AND eliminate your enemies. So – my solution evidently works better than your solution. That makes my opinion a better opinion than your opinion. I’m looking forward to hearing you change it. In fact, your opinion is so feeble and ridiculous that I think we shouldn’t waste any more time with it and just throw it out on the dunghill of festering standpoints like ‘the moon is made of cheese’ or ‘spanking your children helps build character’. But hey, that’s just min lille mening…”
I promise you, you won’t be bored again at that particular dinner table.