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message 1: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
We're having a humorous side discussion about the names given to works and characters when they are translated. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle changed to Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies...etc.

What other good examples of titles that either make complete sense to translate, or that lose some context during translation are there?


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments I commented on this in a different thread, but a book I'm reading went from Murder Most Unladylike in UK to Murder Is Bad Manners in US.

I much prefer the UK version.


message 3: by Tomas (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 444 comments Any pun-based names are pretty much untranslatable between languages, more so if different language family. Unfortunately I can't remember a book example myself at this point, only movie ones.

Now that I think about it, HP7 (Deathly Hallows) was translated to Czech as "Harry Potter and Relics of Death" and there were some issues with half-blood prince translation as well, because Czech lacks some one-word equivalent of half-blood.


message 4: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
I kinda like Relics of Death! Maybe a slightly different tone, though.

Agreed, Colleen, Murder Most Unladylike is definitely a superior name. It sounds like there IS a ladylike way to go about it and just this particular one was a scandal, which is funny.


colleen the convivial curmudgeon (blackrose13) | 2674 comments Allison wrote: "Agreed, Colleen, Murder Most Unladylike is definitely a superior name. It sounds like there IS a ladylike way to go about it and just this particular one was a scandal, which is funny. "

Right?

I also worry that if they're changing the name it means they'll be changing other Britishisms within the book, which always makes me a bit sad.


message 6: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "Allison wrote: "Agreed, Colleen, Murder Most Unladylike is definitely a superior name. It sounds like there IS a ladylike way to go about it and just this particular one was a scandal, which is fun..."

Yeah...I'm sure that there are a few expressions and such that might go over American heads, but I feel most of us have the internet these days, if we're confused we can Google it.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Agreed


message 8: by Kristin B. (new)

Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | 719 comments This link talks about Voldemort's different names in the books in other languages in order to make the anagram "I am Lord Voldemort" work. My favorite is the French: Tom Elvis Jedusor


message 9: by Tomas (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 444 comments Yeah, french Voldemort is hilarious one, considering that most languages play only with the middle name. Norwegian (based on the provided link) "Tom Dredolo Venster" sounds hilarious to me as well. Makes me think of him having dreadlocks instead of being bald.

One more thing, though movie-related.
A friend once told me about a movie originally titled "One hundred feet" that was translated as "Thirty and half meters"
Now, I am not a fan of imperial units, but this is overkill. Would that specific person convert Fahrenheit 451 to Celsius as well?


message 10: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina | 365 comments I love this theme, living in Switzerland I've often wondered about these "lost" translations:

The most prominent that comes to mind is "Bite" for Twilight which just seems funny.

However, there are other curiosities: like the Wheel of Time series has been published in 37 German books instead of the original 14:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/4570...
This probably made someone very rich...?


message 11: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Tomas wrote: "Yeah, french Voldemort is hilarious one, considering that most languages play only with the middle name. Norwegian (based on the provided link) "Tom Dredolo Venster" sounds hilarious to me as well...."

haha! That is a good one. Oh, those ped-antics (ba dum bum tss!)


message 12: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new)

Anna (vegfic) | 9646 comments Mod
I've always thought the reason for publishing a book in several volumes is because the language it was translated to results in a larger page count. At least that's how it seems when I do librarian stuff on GR.


message 13: by Trike (new)

Trike colleen the convivial curmudgeon wrote: "I commented on this in a different thread, but a book I'm reading went from Murder Most Unladylike in UK to Murder Is Bad Manners in US.

I much prefer the UK version."


Same. I mean, “Murder is Bad Manners” is not bad per se, but “Murder Most Unladylike” is clearly a pun on the classic phrase “murder most foul”.

I’ve always been amused by “murder most foul”. Like there are other options: “murder most jolly” or “murder most giggly”.


message 14: by Trike (new)

Trike Kristin B. wrote: "This link talks about Voldemort's different names in the books in other languages in order to make the anagram "I am Lord Voldemort" work. My favorite is the French: Tom Elvis Jedusor"

I just got back from seeing Avengers: Infinity War again and one of the numerous amusing exchanges includes

Thor: We must go to Nidavellir.
Drax: That’s a made-up word.
Thor: All words are made up.


message 15: by Trike (new)

Trike Allison wrote: "We're having a humorous side discussion about the names given to works and characters when they are translated. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to Sorcerer's Stone, Harold and Kumar Go to ..."

The original post btw:

Jacqueline wrote: "Yeah the UK can handle blood and sex but not guns 😜

One of the movies that really annnoyed Australians was when they changed the original 1970s Mad Max movie to The Road Warrior in the US."


That’s because Mad Max was a hit everywhere except the US, so calling it Mad Max 2 wouldn’t do it any favors. Besides, The Road Warrior is a cooler name. :p

In China, Star Wars has no cultural currency so the movies don’t do well there (Last Jedi bombed hard, partially because people were like, “Episode EIGHT? I’m not watching seven other movies first”), which is why Solo: A Star Wars Story is titled Ranger Solo.

Similarly, The Madness of King George III was changed to The Madness of King George for the US release, because Americans aren’t used to numbered kings, so we’d most likely think it was a sequel.

It goes the other way, too. The Avengers was titled Avengers Assemble in the UK so as not to confuse it with the classic TV series featuring Steed and Peel.

Changing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was likewise a better choice, since saying the phrase “philosopher’s stone” would only get you blank looks here. That’s a very British term.

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle is a reference no British person is going to get, so for the U.K. release it was titled Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies. Much like changing “philosopher’s stone”, the altered title loses an entire layer of meaning.


message 16: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Thanks, Trike! Those really are classic examples--I definitely didn't mean to steal credit for others hard work, either ^^


message 17: by Beth (new)

Beth (rosewoodpip) | 1686 comments Allison wrote: "Yeah...I'm sure that there are a few expressions and such that might go over American heads, but I feel most of us have the internet these days, if we're confused we can Google it. "

I also think with the global internet (and TV/YouTube), that people (not just younger ones) can more easily be exposed to differences in accents and figures of speech among the different dialects of English. British TV used to be relegated to PBS, but now it's all over the place...


message 18: by CBRetriever (new)

CBRetriever | 4627 comments on a Kindle (probably on other ereaders as well), if you have the option of using the Oxford Dictionary of English (it's UK English) it helps a lot. I was stumped by placcy in one book, but it was in that dictionary (view spoiler)


message 19: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments A couple of books I know that had basic changes in them are Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims (UK) and The Day My Bum Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths (Australia). Mummy was changed to Mommy and had silly things like jumpers and pants changed to American words so they didn’t have to think too hard about what they meant and was released in America 6 months later. In Andy Griffiths book Bum was changed to Butt. And the TV series is Butt as well. I suppose at least they didn’t change it to Fanny. That would have been rather rude in Britain and Australia.


message 20: by Tomas (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 444 comments For children books I can understand that somewhat.

Also, yes, the dictionary in Kindle is really useful perk of e-reading.


message 21: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments Yeah well I have trouble understanding why Australian parents are happy to give their children books with bum and that but Americans aren’t. I’m Australian and I happily bought my kids the Bum books. And Dr Dog. And the poetry collections with words kids snicker at.

And that’s another thing that gets on my goat.....changing kids names because they offend your sensibilities. Good old English names like Dick and Fanny and Bess and Jo from Enid Blyton books that get changed in the modern books to Rick, Franny, Beth and Joe. WTF? Honestly....


message 22: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 831 comments Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was translated to Russian as 80'000 Kilometers Under the Sea in 1934 year edition :)


message 23: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 56 comments Jacqueline wrote: "Yeah well I have trouble understanding why Australian parents are happy to give their children books with bum and that but Americans aren’t. I’m Australian and I happily bought my kids the Bum book..."

Isn't it that 'bum' doesn't mean the same thing in the US? Changing the title stops US children thinking it's about a psychotic homeless person.


message 24: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments A Bum is a homeless person here too.....kids aren’t silly. They can work it out by context.


message 25: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1327 comments I CAN see how kids would have a hard time getting past names like dick and Fanny used together tho.

My kids are 4 and wouldn’t even know what they meant but poop is literally the funniest word ever. I hear it all.the.time.


message 26: by Trike (new)

Trike Jacqueline wrote: "A Bum is a homeless person here too.....kids aren’t silly. They can work it out by context."

Except in the US “bum” doesn’t have the secondary meaning of “butt”. It’s pretty much just “hobo” and “lame”, as in “injured”. “I’ve got a bum leg because I pulled my hamstring.”

So we can’t make sentences like, “That bum has a bum bum.” The old Benny Hill joke about “releasing a musical bum, I mean music album” always fell flat here.


Which brings to mind the word “buffalo”, which has three meanings: the animal, the city, and to cause consternation. It’s the only word that can form complete sentences by itself. I think you can get up to 14 words and still have the sentence make sense. I drive through Buffalo on my way to my parents’ house and our record was around 10 words before we lost the thread. It entertained us for a solid hour of our 16-hour drive.


message 27: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Trike wrote: "Thor: We must go to Nidavellir.
Drax: That’s a made-up word.
Thor: All words are made up. "


*snort* That's great XD


message 28: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments It's not the kids who have a hard time with it Rachel. It's the Nanny State stepping in and going "oh we can't have those names and you can't have Bess because of some connotation to do with black women in America so they change them for everybody. Sorry changing Enid Blyton names is a sore spot.

A spot that hurts even more is when they completely change the books to make them more PC. They're worried that Noddy and Big Ears might look gay or that big ears is a pedophile because they sleep together (just like most little kids sleep with their best friends or at least did when I was younger) so they changed it. The Enchanted Wood/Faraway Tree has had characters completely changed and some adventures at the top of the tree changed or completely deleted because some people were worried that it might offend or upset someone. Well taking them out offended and upset me.

Sorry.....I get a bit pissed off when they change books like that. Especially when they've been around since the 30s.


message 29: by Trike (new)

Trike Jacqueline wrote: " It's the Nanny State stepping in and going "oh we can't have those names and you can't have Bess because of some connotation to do with black women in America ..."

The entirety of all women named Bess is distilled down to the musical “Porgy and Bess”, which might or might not be a little bit racist? Weird.

First Lady Bess Truman doesn’t count? Nor does Bess Meyerson?


message 30: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments Yeah Trike not sure. But apparently Bessie" was replaced by "Beth" because "Bessie" (or "Bess") is believed by some to be a stereotypical name for black women (usually impoverished, overweight prostitutes from Harlem, New York) and therefore carries racist overtones.


message 31: by Michele (last edited May 06, 2018 05:42AM) (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Jacqueline wrote: "A spot that hurts even more is when they completely change the books to make them more PC."

I agree. It's as if we've suddenly become totally incapable of putting things in their proper context. (That Bess/Beth thing is just ridiculous.) If people are determined to be offended they will always find a reason; it's pointless to try to predict what they'll fixate on, and wrong to ruin good art and literature in a vain attempt to do so.


message 32: by Rosina (last edited May 06, 2018 06:36AM) (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 56 comments Jacqueline wrote: "Yeah Trike not sure. But apparently Bessie" was replaced by "Beth" because "Bessie" (or "Bess") is believed by some to be a stereotypical name for black women (usually impoverished, overweight pros..."

I suppose the popular Black Bess and Brown Bess might also have seeped into consciousness - even though they are a horse and a rifle ...

Edit - Brown Bess was of course a musket, not a rifle!


message 33: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited May 06, 2018 06:24AM) (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
I've always liked the discussions good teachers/moderators/friends would facilitate before reading problematic things. It was, for me (a person with many privileges, of which this may be one), eye-opening, and the discomfort that I felt a good reminder for why we work so hard these days for respectful language aka political correctness.

I am therefore in favor of leaving books as they were, and if any editing is necessary, it should be in the form of a Foreword that contextualizes the piece for us a bit.


message 34: by Trike (new)

Trike Jacqueline wrote: "Yeah Trike not sure. But apparently Bessie" was replaced by "Beth" because "Bessie" (or "Bess") is believed by some to be a stereotypical name for black women (usually impoverished, overweight pros..."

The question becomes one of who made that decision. It sounds like the idea of a single person with limited knowledge.


message 35: by Paul (last edited May 06, 2018 07:25AM) (new)

Paul Sánchez Keighley (paulsanchez91) | 8 comments This one is kind of hard to explain, but I'll give it a shot.
I think Laura Escorihuela, who translated the first four Harry Potter books into Catalan, is some sort of silent genius.
When translating names, she made up a bunch of puns of her own in order to give the Catalan text the humorous ring of the original.
The best example I can remember is the Whomping Willow, which she translated as "Pi Cabaralla".
Now, "Pi" is actually the Catalan word for "pine tree". So she changed the type of tree in order to make the pun work.
"Cabaralla" at first glance looks like nothing more than gibberish.
But join both words together and you get "picabaralla", which is a Catalan word that roughly translates as "brawl" or "quarrel".
And it gets better: when you read it out loud, it sounds exactly the same as "pi que baralla", which is Catalan for "the pine tree that fights".
So it's a sort of pun inside a pun. I thought it was beautiful :)


message 36: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "This one is kind of hard to explain, but I'll give it a shot.
I think Laura Escorihuela, who translated the first four Harry Potter books into Catalan, is some sort of silent genius.
When transla..."


That's awesome haha


message 37: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Allison wrote: "I am therefore in favor of leaving books as they were, and if any editing is necessary, it should be in the form of a Foreword that contextualizes the piece for us a bit. "

Yup, exactly.


message 38: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Paul wrote: "This one is kind of hard to explain, but I'll give it a shot..."the pine tree that fights"."

LOL! That's awesome :D


message 39: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 2287 comments Thank you Paul, that's terrific.
Translators are under-appreciated. They have to keep the intended 'flavor,' but they are also told not to 'change' anything. They really do deserve co-author status, imo.


message 40: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 2306 comments That’s pretty cool. A good or bad translator can wreck a good book.

Bess is a great old English name. Good Queen Bess for example was Queen Elizabeth I.

I think there’s a little group of people who sit in a room all by themselves reading complaints made by one offended person so they change things. Or they just think that something will offend one sector of society and they get all offended on their behalf when the people who they think it will offend really couldn’t give a fig about it anyway. The change probably upsets way more people than the original perceived problem ever offended.


message 41: by Paul (new)

Paul Sánchez Keighley (paulsanchez91) | 8 comments Cheryl wrote: "Thank you Paul, that's terrific.
Translators are under-appreciated. They have to keep the intended 'flavor,' but they are also told not to 'change' anything. They really do deserve co-author status..."


Reminds me of how the author and the translator of The Three-Body Problem shared the Hugo award. It's a curious case. I guess it's because the translation was different enough from the original (to the point that it changed the order in which events are presented to the reader) to be considered an original work in its own right.

Do any of you know of similar cases? I'm curious.


MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 2207 comments Trike wrote: "Jacqueline wrote: "Yeah Trike not sure. But apparently Bessie" was replaced by "Beth" because "Bessie" (or "Bess") is believed by some to be a stereotypical name for black women (usually impoverish..."

Agreed, Trike.

I've never heard of "Bess" being a slur here. I think that was someone getting their panties in a bunch.

Now, Bess IS considered an "old" name - there are a lot of names that don't get used and/or changed due to age. I know a girl named Ruth and people picked on her cause her name was so old.


message 43: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 1327 comments For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows.....


message 44: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows....."

Yeah, I hadn't known of the racial overtone, but I do know about the cows. I'd guess it was more of an attempt to keep the story "relevant" than police language. There's also lots of weird stereotypes about how Americans (and everyone else, I'm sure) "prefer" to have things spelled. I guess I'm ok with Bess being changed if neither the race conversation nor the name were important to to the story, but it does seem odd to me.


message 45: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Rachel wrote: "For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows....."

The Latin for cow is bos, which led to cows traditionally being called Bossie. Maybe that mutated into Bessie?


message 46: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Michele wrote: "Rachel wrote: "For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows....."

The Latin for cow is bos, which led to cows traditionally being called Bossie. Maybe that mutated into Bessie?"


"This is a learning AND friendship adventure!"

-Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock


message 47: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1206 comments Allison wrote: "This is a learning AND friendship adventure!"

lol Yeah, Goodreads is like that :)


message 48: by Trike (new)

Trike Michele wrote: "Rachel wrote: "For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows....."

The Latin for cow is bos, which led to cows traditionally being called Bossie. Maybe that mutated into Bessie?"


Sounds as good as anything else. There are a lot of fictional cows named Bessie, like in Charlotte's Web and Marvel’s Howard the Duck (where she was an immortal vampire cow named Hellcow), and the popular song “Bessie the Heifer” from The Lucille Ball Show: https://youtu.be/U6PH2wPsEnM

That sort of thing becomes self-perpetuating, until we get Hellcow and commercials with Bessie the spokescow.


message 49: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 412 comments I don't remember any named cows in Charlotte's Web, and it was one of my favorite childhood books. That must be from a film version or something.


message 50: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new)

Allison Hurd | 13043 comments Mod
Trike wrote: "Michele wrote: "Rachel wrote: "For some reason my spouse associates Bess and Betsy with cows....."

The Latin for cow is bos, which led to cows traditionally being called Bossie. Maybe that mutated..."


These types of pop/mainstream culture seeping into our psyches always remind me of the Tamarian idiom-based language from Star Trek (Shaka, when the walls fell). I know a lot of linguists got huffy about that episode because it's so implausible...but also we kind of do that. "Best laid plans..." "okay, Benedict." There's so many layers that make common things mean so much more because of the cultural meanings we've collectively added.

That's the really cool thing that I think good translators do. I hear it a lot in musicals/operas. Les Miserables is way different in French. For example, "Do You Hear the People Sing" is "The Will of The People" in the French version. The English version is a request. "Will you join in our crusade? Is there a world you want to see?" It works well, I think. But the French version is all about what needs to be done. "Fill your heart with the wine of rebellion! We must win! Peace will dance on the winds of liberty!" It's a sort of "hoo-ah!" war cry rather than an enlistment ad.

Pretty interesting that it can resound with us when they don't even serve the same function, just the same sentiment.


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