Smith, Sidebottom and McTavish

A couple of days ago I wrote about watching a film or TV programme in another language with subtitles; however good the subtitles are, they can’t always convey the subtleties of speech, those accents and dialects which would convey so much to a viewer who spoke the language.

It is the same with names… I’ve been watching Forbrydelsen, The Killing, which is in Danish. Do the names of the characters subtly convey something to the viewer? I’m sure different surnames are associated with different regions in Denmark, just as they are in the British Isles. Names carry a powerful message, in real life as well as in fiction hence the care  with which most parents choose their children’s first names.

The detectives in The Killing, Lund, Brix, Meyer, Strange, Borch… do their names the writers chose signify anything about the characters? There is a political theme running through the three series so the politicians and their associates, Hartman, Skovgaard, Weber, Bremer, Buch…

So the names in the title of my post… Smith, the most common English surname, Sidebottom, a northern name, most often Yorkshire, and McTavish, a Scottish name- and there are a lot of McTavishes in Argyll. if these names were in a British TV programme they may have been chosen to suggest certain things about the character…. Oh and sometimes, some people called Sidebottom pronounce it Siddybotham…!!


  1. david lewis

    I had a headmistress in England named Miss Merriweather who delighted in caning me. The cane was bamboo with a wooden knob on the end and she would hit me until I bled. She seemed to delight in inflicting pain on me and God help you if you tried to pull your hands back or cry. Funny that a sadist like that had a breezy name like Merriweather. Like they say ( What’s in a name)


    1. Lois

      The way children were treated in school in the past is unbelievable… Even when I was teaching children could be caned; the day I started teaching at the school in Oldham I had to go along to witness two boys getting the cane…


  2. tinasrabbithole

    Seems like they’ve gone for quite ‘normal’ last names. None of them really stick out. I don’t watch the show… but traditionally Meyer and Borch would be quite well off families. Lund, Brix and Strange are normal enough but I don’t know anything more about them. As for the politicians I’m really blank. I don’t know much about Danish politics! Not uncommon names though.


    1. Lois

      Thanks for that, it’s so interesting to get a glimpse into a different language and culture, Brix sounds such an extraordinary name… mind you, the actor playing the part was an extraordinary looking man! Strange is a name we have over here, and there are versions of Lund.
      My name Elsden, is supposed to be Danish originally!

      Liked by 1 person

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