Not even the Danes can understand Danish

The Local Denmark
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Not even the Danes can understand Danish
Mumbly McGees Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Mads Mikkelsen from the film Mænd og Høns. Photo: Rolf Konow

Danish actors mumble so badly that Danes can't understand what they are saying, forcing movie theatres to run subtitles.


One thing every foreigner living in Denmark knows to be true is that it’s a lot easier to comprehend written Danish than spoken Danish. That’s why many foreigners, even after years of living in Denmark, have to turn on Danish subtitles in order to follow along with Danish TV shows and films.
But fret not foreigners, you’re not alone. Not even the natives, it seems, can understand mumble-mouthed Danish actors. 
Several movie theaters in Denmark have resorted to turning on the subtitles of domestic films as more and more people report difficulty following what Danish actors are saying on screen. 
The head of Danske Biografer, the national association for Denmark’s movie theaters, said there is a growing trend of using subtitles on Danish films. 
“Many theaters advertise special showings in which Danish films are shown with subtitles. In Grenaa, the owner of the local theatre has chosen to consistently show Danish films with subtitles,” Kim Pedersen told public broadcaster DR. 
Pedersen said that the Danish Film Institute is supporting a fundraising project to ensure that even more Danish films can be shown with Danish texts. 
“There is clearly a market for it and Nordisk Films Biografer has also chosen to hold showings with subtitles for popular Danish films like Stille Hjerte and All Inclusive,” he said. 
Danish actors have defended their mumbling by saying it adds a realistic element to the films – something most non-Danes would probably agree with. 

To get a sense of why Danes need subtitles, here is the trailer for Mænd og Høns, currently playing in theaters. Can you understand it? 


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