British-U.S. adaptation of ‘The Office’

Céline at Naked Translations Blog links to a Guardian article about the U.S. adaptation of the programme ‘The Office’.

bq. It is not clear whether the problem is that the show loses a great deal in translation, or whether the translation is faithful and Americans do not like that kind of humour – or both.
The American television industry has an unfortunate record of adapting British successes into US flops. A recent adaptation of Coupling lasted only a few weeks.

Well, it took me a good hour to see through the depressing first episode myself, so goodness knows what the Americans would think.

I still find it bizarre to translate programmes for the USA.

4 thoughts on “British-U.S. adaptation of ‘The Office’

  1. I fail to see how the terrible programme won so many awards Margaret. I’ve watched it once and it was pathetic. Maybe I’m just getting old…..


  2. Someone just bought me the DVDs of the first two series (I think it grows on you). They ordered it from and the DVDs came with a list of translations US English / British slang.

    It really seems neccessary to provide a translation – having been out of the UK for 24 years, I discovered quite a few words and terms I wouldn’t have understood without the list of translations!

  3. Paul, I suppose we’re all getting old, even you. I didn’t like the first episode – apart from getting used to it in general, there was a long bit where the boss reduces the secretary to tears that didn’t really come off, but I was hooked after the second. (Someone lent me the videocassette). There are two superbly cast idiots and it reminded me of what it’s like working for an employer! (I hope no-one from Erlangen is reading this)

    John, that list sounds really interesting. I have been out for nearly that long myself and I expect I just missed some of those references. It sounds as if that was the original British version, not the translated one.
    I’ve seen your blog before, because I know you refer to me. It’s excellent reading. I saw it recently without realizing it was you when I was reading about WordPress – a number of people have changed, starting with the German law blog Vertretbar. I’ve been reading Burningbird on a newsfeed too. I changed providers because of MT, and I’m now with an individual small provider who does it part-time and doesn’t even charge VAT, and I feel a bit at risk – I would rather have a bigger firm, so I would like to abandon MT. It sounds as if you managed to install WordPress without having a second MySQL or whatever, or did you have to make arrangements to be able to have two systems running at once?

  4. Hi Margaret,

    Yes, the DVD was the British version. Now all I have to do is get my DVD player fixed to play american region DVDs so I can watch it :-) I can scan the translations in and e-mail them to you, if you are interested, but not before the weekend.

    The move to WordPress would have been very quick and completely painless, except that I didn’t think to switch off comments and new postings on the old blog and the first time someone posted a comment, MT regenerated the index.php file and one or two other files, completely knocking WordPress out of the water. I find it more flexible than MT and am very happy with it now. Parallel installations are no problem if you don’t make the same mistake I did!

    The installation, if you have a mySQL database as part of your provider service is completely automatic – it simply adds tables (prefixed WP_….) to the database, so any other applications using the database co-exist, so long as the table names don’t clash. The installation literally takes five minutes to get up and running.

    You can play with a demo installation here:

    I would recommend installing the version 1.2 beta – it offers a lot more than the official 1.01 version and seems quite stable. It can import your MT export file and also supports Textile, if you use that. And the comment management is more powerful than MT – you can have all comments queued for review before they are posted, use a moded version of MT-Blacklist or specify that comments having more than “x” links are put into the approval queue instead of being posted directly. All in all – worth a try.

    Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you want more info – my address is on my blog’s contact page! Hope this helps…

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