Fun_People Archive
25 Nov
Lost, and Gained, in the Translation

Content-Type: text/plain
Mime-Version: 1.0 (NeXT Mail 3.3 v118.2)
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 98 01:24:54 -0800
To: Fun_People
Precedence: bulk
Subject: Lost, and Gained, in the Translation

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649

["He's having all his novels translated into French.
  They lose something in the original."
			-James Thurber]

Excerpted-from: The New York Times Sunday, November 15, 1998
	Week in Review Section
	-- James Sterngold :

Lost, and Gained, in the Translation

One of the reasons that movie studios make so many action pictures is that
they do well overseas.  There are no translation problems when Bruce Willis
is firing an Uzi or fleeing a fireball.

Comedies and dramas are a different story. Comedy, in particular, frequently
hangs on the thinnest of cultural threads. But when a comic film takes off,
the distributors will do everything possible to push it overseas. Take, for
instance, "There's Something About Mary," one of the biggest and silliest
movies of the year, starring Cameron Diaz. To foreign audiences, the title
was mystifying. So 20th Century Fox renamed the movie country by country.

In Poland, blonde jokes are popular, so the title became, "For the Love of
a Blonde." In France, it was, "Mary at All Costs."

Scott Neeson, the executive in charge of foreign distribution at Fox, said
Asians prefer literal titles. So in Thailand it became, "My True Love Will
Stand All Outrageous Events." In Hong Kong it was called, "Enjoy Yourself
in the Game of Love."

That's poetic by the standards of Hong Kong, where the demand for literal
descriptions has produced some jarring results. The Cantonese title for
"Leaving Las Vegas" translates to "I'm Drunk and You're a Prostitute."
"Field of Dreams" was "Imaginary Dead Baseball Players Live in My
Cornfield." For truth in advertising, you could not beat the title for "The
Crying Game" -- "Oh No! My Girlfriend Has a Penis!"

Occasionally, the Chinese seem to find unintended meanings in American
movies. "Interview With the Vampire," for instance, became, "So, You Are a

But there's no arguing with the Chinese take on "Babe": "The Happy
Dumpling-To-Be Who Talks and Solves Agricultural Problems." Or "My Best
Friend's Wedding": "Help! My Pretend Boyfriend Is Gay." Or "George of the
Jungle": "Big Dumb Monkey Man Keeps Whacking Tree With Genitals." Or even
"Batman and Robin": "Come to My Cave and Wear this Rubber Codpiece, Cute

But still, there is that poetic side, as with the Pamela Anderson Lee
vehicle called "Barb Wire." The Chinese saw it as "Delicate Orbs of
Womanhood Bigger Than Your Head Can Hurt You."

prev [=] prev © 1998 Peter Langston []