The one about translating movie titles

Translate this!It’s not easy to translate English-language movies into Romanian. Doing subtitles is bad enough as way too often cultural references and certain phrases hit a brick wall when meeting the translator.

But even worse is the translation of the actual movie title. Sometimes, the translation reflects the title (which happened in the case of “Inside Man” or “Ask the Dust”), sometimes the title makes the job easy because it doesn’t need a translation (“Ultraviolet”, “Miami Vice”) and sometimes the translation is so far removed from the original title, you have no idea what movie you’re about to watch.

It is this third category that we’ll feature here today. Below are 15 examples of movies recently featured on the big screen. Please add your own.

1. The Squid and the Whale = The Dog and the Cat
2. Lucky Number Slevin = Slevin: Not Guilty and with Bad Luck
3. Chaos = Hostages Under Cover
4. The Break-up = Apart, but Together
5. You, Me and Dupree = Just You and Me. The Third one is Extra!
6. Failure to Launch = How to Kick out of the House a 30-Year Old Bachelor
7. Hoodwinked = The Wolf, the Ridinghood and the Enigma
8. Find Me Guilty = I’m Pleading Guilty?!
9. The Constant Gardner = Absolute Friendship
10. 16 Blocks = Deadly Testimony
11. Prime = Taking Love to the Psychiatrist
12. Keeping Mum = A Nanny Full of Surprises
13. Wedding Chrashers = Wedding Crackers
14. RV = A Trip with Suprises
15. She’s the Man = I Love the Wrong Person

8 Responses to “The one about translating movie titles”

  1. I talked last night with a friend of mine that works in the subtitles business about the poorer quality of subtitles in Romania and she told me there are less and less people working in the industry,unqualified and arrogant, the quantity of movies doubles daily, and you cannot afford fire them because there is nobody else to replace them. sad sad situation for Romanian audience. How is possible for a translator not to now what compass means? See the lattest Pirates of Caribean and your ears will be hurt:(

  2. And yet, just to point out, the French speaking are above that. I just saw yesterday Miami Vice in Brussels, and at the end, for everyone’s obvious amusement, they undertitled “Deux flics à Miami” (most likely to be pronounced “mee-a-mee”).

    another non-translator Romanian

  3. “Taking Love to the Psychiatrist.” That is the funniest thing ever.

  4. I can’t tell which made me laugh louder, “A Trip with Surprises” or “I Love The Wrong Person” — haha, who is the idiot responsible for localization for film distributors?

    They should be shot.

    (Warning to others: Don’t assume you can transliterate everything correctly. You’re ego gets in the way of your errors.)

  5. Here’s another one:

    Sideways – In Vino Veritas!

  6. What about:
    Deep Blue See – The Killer Sharks

  7. Oh yeah, I remember that one. It used to be a favorite of mine.

  8. I’m doing a paper on the translation equivalent in translating movie title, so I find lots of translated movie title from English to Indonesian like:

    Titanic: Love that Can’t be Drowned… (so cheesy)
    Independent Day: Battle on the Air
    Unfaithful: Dangerous Affair

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