Hello, Axe Handle

A Danish phrase, “Goddag mand økseskaft“, meaning (literally), “Good day, man, axe handle”. It is used, as given, to describe a conversation or discussion in which the parties are, in effect, talking past each other.

The anecdote itself, which is actually part of a longer story, is translated below:

A man, who was embarrassed by his deafness, needed a new axe handle. While up in a tree, after cutting a tree branch, he sees two younger men. He doesn’t want them to know that he’s deaf, so he guesses that they will ask of him what he’s doing. The young men say, “Hello” to which the man answers, “axe handle”.

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