DR3's new series 'PerkerDansk' – which will follow the lives of selected refugees, immigrants and their descendants in Denmark over eight episodes – starts tonight at 21:30.
But regardless of its content, the national broadcaster DR has already ruffled feathers with its decision to name the series 'PerkerDansk' as the racial slur 'perker' is the most commonly used derogatory word to refer to Middle Eastern immigrants in Denmark.
Too early for DR to use it
Pia Jarvad, a senior researcher with the national language board Dansk Sprognævn, maintains that while the term 'perker' might be slowly becoming part of normal Danish language as younger immigrants increasingly use the term to describe themselves, DR shouldn't be paving the way for it to become acceptable.
“It is too early for DR to use the term,” he said. “There are lots of people coming from these countries who find the word insulting, so it's not acceptable yet. And it shouldn't be the ethnic Danes who contribute to the word 'perker' becoming accepted in Denmark, it should be up to themselves.”
“One of the points is that if you accept a word about yourself, you can also expect others to use that word, but you have to be sure that it is acceptable by the people the word portrays, such as the word 'bøsser' [a commonly used term for homosexual, which like 'queer' has been neutralised over time] in Denmark.”
The term 'bøsse' is now completely accepted by the gay community as a word that is not derogatory, and 'perker' seems to be going in the same direction, Jarvad contends.
But, according to Solomon Lyttle, the British owner of Black Pop Contemporary Art Gallery in Copenhagen and an ambassador for the expat networking organisation InterNations Copenhagen, this is not a matter of progress.
“Things have drastically changed in many countries in Europe, but Denmark seems to lagging behind somewhat,” he said.
Lyttle particularly takes issue with the Danes' liberal use of the word 'neger' ('negro').
“The word ‘negro’ is not acceptable in English," he argued.
"Because it dehumanises. Because of its association with slavery. Because of how it makes people feel to be described in those terms. Because it is a reminder of a painful chapter in history and all the negativity that went along with it.”