Off topic: Film titles in different countries
Thread poster: Gilla Evans

Gilla Evans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 19, 2011

Not sure of the accuracy of the language representations in this article, but it is quite an interesting take on different cultural approaches and also rather bizarre decisions about Hollywood film titles when they cross borders.

http://uk.movies.yahoo.com/blog/article/184449/hollywood-titles-lost-in-translation.html


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 08:19
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Typical cultural transcreation May 19, 2011

How the author of this article ( apparently native English speaker) can get into the essence of these foreign titles literally translated back to English (how accurate are literal translations?). Sometimes there's an entire cultural and linguistic background behind a certain title choice, so these claims would imply that the author is well familiar with all cultural and linguistic nuances of all the mentioned languages/ titles, and how is that possible?

On the other hand, I'm not de
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How the author of this article ( apparently native English speaker) can get into the essence of these foreign titles literally translated back to English (how accurate are literal translations?). Sometimes there's an entire cultural and linguistic background behind a certain title choice, so these claims would imply that the author is well familiar with all cultural and linguistic nuances of all the mentioned languages/ titles, and how is that possible?

On the other hand, I'm not denying there are really bad movie script translations (and their titles), especially considering the low rates in this part of the industry using cheap enthusiastic dilettantes.
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Gilla Evans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
typical journalistic piece May 19, 2011

I do agree with you about the dubious nature of these interpretations. This is a journalistic piece and I suspect the research is pretty flimsy and typical of the popular media's approach to such linguistic issues.

That is why I posted it under the lighter side of translation.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:19
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Original titles can be dull May 19, 2011

I wouldn't take for granted that the Hollywood titles cannot be improved. But of course many times the translated titles are worse than the original. In Finland at least the title of the distribution is decided upon when the rights are bought, so the translator has no influence on the title.
Backtranslation of course does not do justice to the foreign titles.


 

Signe Golly  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:19
Danish to English
+ ...
translation/simplification May 19, 2011

Two of my favorite Danish "translations" of movie titles (remaining in English!):
Basketball Diaries > Streets of New York
Die Hard with a Vengeance > Die Hard, Mega Hard


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 14:19
Chinese to English
Filler May 19, 2011

The article is rubbish - the stuff about Chinese titles is just puffy over-literal back-translation. The Chinese name of Knocked up isn't "One Night Big Belly", it's "Pregnant From a One Night Stand". I have no confidence that any of the other back translated titles have any more subtlety than can be wrought from Google Translate.

Having said that, the question is an interesting one. Films can get different names in different territories: No Country for Old Men was called (roughly)
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The article is rubbish - the stuff about Chinese titles is just puffy over-literal back-translation. The Chinese name of Knocked up isn't "One Night Big Belly", it's "Pregnant From a One Night Stand". I have no confidence that any of the other back translated titles have any more subtlety than can be wrought from Google Translate.

Having said that, the question is an interesting one. Films can get different names in different territories: No Country for Old Men was called (roughly) "The Old Have Nothing to Depend On" in China, and "Stay Away from the Dangerous Path" in Taiwan. It'd be fun to look into why the different names were chosen. But you'd have to do it with a bit of subtlety and sensitivity, not with a "haha look at the funny things foreigners say" like this article does.
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IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 08:19
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Et me May 19, 2011

Signe Golly wrote:

Two of my favorite Danish "translations" of movie titles (remaining in English!):
Basketball Diaries > Streets of New York
Die Hard with a Vengeance > Die Hard, Mega Hard


Our titlemakers sometimes resort to the same solution, i.e. "translating" from English to another English. It's depressing.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I'm fascinated by these May 19, 2011

As a Brit living in the States, I often see films and other works of art with completely different names on each side of the Atlantic, sometimes for no apparent reason. The British TV series Spooks becomes MI5 here, because spooks has racist overtones. Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow becomes Smilla's Feeling for Snow, and Captain Corelli's Mandolin is Corelli's Mandolin. And yes, I checked, Annie Hall is indeed called Der Stadtneurotiker in German. I wonder why.

 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
The Madness May 19, 2011

My favourite changed film title is:
In the UK, Alan Bennet's wonderful film, based on his wonderful play, was called "The Madness of George III".
In America, they changed the title to "The Madness of King George" because they feared that otherwise audiences would think it was the third film in a series about a madman called George.
Jenny


 

Claudia Reynaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
The Killing Fields May 20, 2011

When I worked at Warner Bros. in Mexico City, many, many years ago, I learned that film titles are (or at least were) translated by people who had never even watched the film. We were four employees in total, and every time a new film was going to be released, they asked us to send five "suggestions", and then the people back in the LA home office just picked one out of the five. Thus, "The Killing Fields" ended up being translated as "Los gritos del silencio" (Screaming silence...? Sorry, I can... See more
When I worked at Warner Bros. in Mexico City, many, many years ago, I learned that film titles are (or at least were) translated by people who had never even watched the film. We were four employees in total, and every time a new film was going to be released, they asked us to send five "suggestions", and then the people back in the LA home office just picked one out of the five. Thus, "The Killing Fields" ended up being translated as "Los gritos del silencio" (Screaming silence...? Sorry, I can't come up with a better translation into English), but thanks to that title, it became a blockbuster in Mexico.Collapse


 

solange trad
Portuguese
+ ...
No Country for Old Men - different titles for book and film in Portugal & Brazil May 20, 2011

I agree with Phil Hand about the article. It doesn't make any sense at all to look at titles of films (or any kind of translation) in Google style back translation.

Phil's post about the titles of No Country for Old Men in Taiwan and China reminded me about the different titles for both the film and the book in Portugal and Brazil. In Brazil the book is called "Onde os velhos não tem vez" and the film is called "Onde os fracos não tem vez". In Portugal the book is called "Este nã
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I agree with Phil Hand about the article. It doesn't make any sense at all to look at titles of films (or any kind of translation) in Google style back translation.

Phil's post about the titles of No Country for Old Men in Taiwan and China reminded me about the different titles for both the film and the book in Portugal and Brazil. In Brazil the book is called "Onde os velhos não tem vez" and the film is called "Onde os fracos não tem vez". In Portugal the book is called "Este não é um país para velhos". (not sure what they called the film in Portugal). All three titles are quite similar, but were no doubt chosen carefully in terms of saleability (just like the excellent examples Jenny gave of US v UK titles).

Translations are always different for the Portuguese and Brazilian markets, as language use is very different (even more so than US and UK English).

Title choices are made for 100% commercial reasons for the specific market. For high profile films, the person who comes up with the title is probably paid more than the subtitler/dubbing translator of the entire film/book.
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Titles are sometimes impossible to translate... May 20, 2011

In fact, the Danes seem to have given up these days - either the Danish is so close to the English that it is best not to bother, or it is assumed that Danish audiences know enough English to get by. They used to make a serious effort to give a film a meaningful title some years back.

Some famous earlier examples were 'High Noon' - difficult to render meaningfully in Danish (and what does it imply in American anyway?) - becomes Sheriffen - The Sheriff - in Danish, with an inevitable
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In fact, the Danes seem to have given up these days - either the Danish is so close to the English that it is best not to bother, or it is assumed that Danish audiences know enough English to get by. They used to make a serious effort to give a film a meaningful title some years back.

Some famous earlier examples were 'High Noon' - difficult to render meaningfully in Danish (and what does it imply in American anyway?) - becomes Sheriffen - The Sheriff - in Danish, with an inevitable mention of John Wayne in the title role. Then at least everyone knew what to expect...

Unforgiven becomes 'The merciless (ones)' - De Nådesløse' (I haven't seen it, but the transition is interesting).

Watership Down - what would you do with that in any other language? The Danes simply call it 'Rabbit Mountain'

To Kill A Mockingbird becomes Don't kill a Songbird.

Winnie the Pooh, not a film, I know, is Peter Plush or Peter Velvet in Danish. Someone I talked to recently thought the Danish version was better than the English original. I don't know it well enough to comment, but I suspect I would disagree!
But The Wind in the Willows - title translated literally - is brilliant in Danish as well as English.

I have had the same problem myself when trying to find a suitable title, when the original is a word-play or a subtle hint of things to come. Many good titles simply have to be reinvented rather than translated.

It is an art that Google Translate will never master in a million years...
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sailingshoes
Local time: 08:19
Spanish to English
Reservoir Dogs May 26, 2011

This was a headache for everyone everywhere. In Spanish it was called Perros de Presa.

But in fact (well...) it resulted from a mishearing. QT was in the bedroom changing to go out and his partner of the time shouted in from the main room, "You wanna see Au Revoir les Enfants?" and he shouted back, "See what? Reservoir Dogs? What's that?"

I also like the Italian for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Don't Open that Door. Also Bertolucci's Novecento, who thought of calling
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This was a headache for everyone everywhere. In Spanish it was called Perros de Presa.

But in fact (well...) it resulted from a mishearing. QT was in the bedroom changing to go out and his partner of the time shouted in from the main room, "You wanna see Au Revoir les Enfants?" and he shouted back, "See what? Reservoir Dogs? What's that?"

I also like the Italian for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Don't Open that Door. Also Bertolucci's Novecento, who thought of calling it 1900?!
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Jacek Siminski
Poland
Local time: 08:19
English to Polish
+ ...
Dirty Dancing PL Jun 19, 2011

I think the most classic example is translation of Dirty Dancing in Poland (if it has not been mentioned yet)

Dirty Dancing - Wirujący Seks - If we retranslate it: Twisting Sex


 

LingoTrust
Local time: 02:19
Other film titles Sep 27, 2012

Here are some more translated film titles:

http://www.lackuna.com/2012/03/07/worst-or-greatest-movie-title-translations/


 


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