Thursday, March 17, 2005

Fucking Jävla Skit Language!

Taboo swear words are probably among the first thing a second language learner learns if they have a teenage mentality. But while it's easy to master swear words, I don't think you ever really internalise the depth of feeling associated with the taboo.

As a case in point, a few years ago, a movie about a teenage lesbian stuck in stifling a small town was all the rage in Sweden. The Swedish title of the movie is Fucking Åmål! Since Åmål is just the name of the small town in question, this Swedish movie title is really in English-and probably offensive to some.

I have heard that the original title of the movie was Fucking Jävla Skit Åmål! mixing some Swedish curse words in with the English. That title literally means fucking devil shit ... and can be loosely translated as Goddamn fucking shit ... Now if we could somehow objectively measure the degree of offensiveness of words across languages, I would bet that jävla skit is less offensive than fucking. But apparently the Swedish film board did not see it that way. They balked at jävla skit but allowed fucking!

Most Swedes know English. But surely, they don't really know the power of fucking.

When Fucking Åmål! was released in America, the title was changed to Show me love. Ugh! Talk about a tin ear translation. They could at least have gone with Damn Jävla Skit Åmål! I wouldn't have been offended.

BTW This is a pretty good movie-go rent it.

1 comment:

boredoom said...

This reminds me of "Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me." The autocensors let that title through in the U.S. because it's practically in a foreign language: British English!

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