‘The Killing’ will mind its mouth

When the second series of the popular Danish programme airs in the UK this weekend, it might read a bit differently

November 18th, 2011 4:27 pm| by admin

Responding to a viewer complaint, the BBC will apply a different approach to its translation of expletives for the second series of the hit Danish television programme ‘The Killing’ (Forbrydelsen), reports British TV magazine The Radio Times.

The gritty police drama, which has received rave reviews from critics around the world and a BAFTA TV international prize this year, is known for its realistic, straightforward language. But a problem arose with the first series when the British company responsible for subtitling the show  almost uniformly translated every level of obscenity as “fuck” – in fact, there were 25 percent more uses of the word than in the original Danish script.

This prompted the BBC to send a memo to Voice and Script International (VSI) that stated: “Going forward, the consensus here is that we should keep an eye on the number of expletives being added. Where there are a number of options of which word to use, err on the side of caution, and use the less strong word.”

Simon Chilcott, the editor of programme acquisitions at the BBC, said: “If there are suddenly lots more uses of the f-word in one episode, we have to check itÂ’s consistent with the script and the rest of the series,” as well as the character’s personality.

RadioTimes.com’s source at VSI defended the subtitler’s work. “Translation is subjective to some extent; you have to use language that best fits the tone of the programme,” he said. “The Old Norse word ‘faenÂ’ literally refers to the Devil, but can now also mean ‘bastardÂ’, ‘shitÂ’ or ‘fuckÂ’.” 

Chilcott admitted that translating subtitles is not an exact science. “The translator [has to put] some of their own voice into the subtitles,” he said. “Often, a direct translation would be awkward and stilted.”

An official BBC spokesperson also said: “The important thing is that the subtitles represent the tone and sentiment of the dialogue as accurately as possible. At no point did the BBC ask for any strong language to be removed or toned down” in the second series, which is set to debut this weekend.

For now, whether the subtitles are more accurate and less ‘offensive’ simply remains to be read on screen.

Join the debate – join us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a comment below.

We can see the problems now, and that's making our politicians very nervous (photo: iStock)
You’re Still Here: We can see clearly now …
My dog listens to talk radio while we are out, which means I listen to ta...
The new parliamentary year officially begins (photo: Hasse Ferrold)
Folketinget officially kick-starts new parliamentary year
Folketinget, the Danish Parliament, officially began its new parliamentary ...
The new post centre in Taastrup will sort letters in a more efficient way (photo: iStock)
Post Danmark to lay off 135 employees
Post Danmark will lay off some 135 employees when the company moves from it...
Those who fail to come to a scheduled examination are likely to worsen their health problems, a doctor from Bispebjerg Hospital warns (photo: iStock)
No-shows at hospitals costing Denmark significant resources
Every year, tens of thousands of patients miss an appointment for scheduled...
Kristian Thulesen Dahl is the current leader of Dansk Folkeparti (photo: News Øresund)
Dansk Folkeparti celebrating 20th anniversary
Dansk Folkeparti (DF) is celebrating its 20th anniversary today. The rig...
The shots were fired into a building (photo: iStock)
Shots fired at estate agent’s in Copenhagen
Five to six shots were aimed at an estate agent's office on Smedtoften in t...