View Full Version : Lost in (subtitled) translations

10-09-2007, 03:35 AM
My wife likes romantic comedies, so we watched P.S., starring Laura Linney, and I noticed a mistake in the subtitled Japanese. Laura was having a fight with the character played by Topher Grace. Topher said "It takes two to fight" or something like that, and closes the door. The Japanese translation became "It takes two hours to fight." I stopped the DVD and asked my wife about the line, and she said it had confused her.

Many lines need to be changed when movies are translated into foreign languages. Most often jokes can't get translated or cultural references won't work. One of the first times I noticed this was the 1983 movie Mr. Mom. Michael Keaton's Jack is at home when the TV repair lady comes to the door. In English, the dialog goes something like this.

Jack: Why are you here?
Repair lady: I'm here to fix your horizontal hold.
J: I didn't know that there was a problem with it.
RL: Your wife said there was.
J: I guess she would know.

In Japanese the dialog wasn't particularly humorous.

J: Why are you here?
Repair lady: I'm here to fix your TV.
J: I didn't know that there was a problem with it.
RL: Your wife said there was.
J: I guess she would know.

The rest of the audience must have wondered why this gaijin foreigner was laughing so hard.

What translation mistakes or substitutions have you seen?

10-09-2007, 05:06 AM
The subtitles and dubbing for "The Killer" are often out of sync, check the wikipedia page on alternate versions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killer_%28film%29#Alternate_versions).

Best of all was the scene where the hero rushes a girl to the "Scared Heart" hospital :dubious:

10-09-2007, 05:10 AM
I think I've mentioned this before, but I was watching a pirate DVD in Tibet of Bruce Almighty, that had been dubbed into Chinese, then dubbed into Tibetan, then English language subtitles had been re-translated and added to the bottom of the screen.

Which resulted in a shot of Morgan Freeman standing in Heaven, looking seriously at Jim Carrey, and the subtitle saying "Shall we fuck?"

10-09-2007, 09:44 AM
When one of the Star Wars prequels was released over here I went to see it at the cinema. At one point one of the characters declares that he is invincible. Subtitles: I am invisible. Most entertaining bit in the movie actually. Brought down the house.

The term make-up sex also loses something in the translation when it's translated verbatim. :smack:

10-09-2007, 10:12 AM
Going in the other direction there was an amusing blooper in the subtitled version of, I think, Gunbuster.

Gunbuster is a giant robot anime, with sports overtones. So there were a lot of battle cries being called out. One of which was, in the original, "Psychic Wave!"

It was translated in the English subtitles as "Side-Kick Wave!"

10-09-2007, 10:17 AM
I recall reading on another message board that the line in Airplane! about the plane looking like a giant Tylenol was translated into Spanish-language subtitles as looking like a giant dildo. I guess it kind of makes sense based on the shape of the plane, but couldn't they have just said "aspirin?"

And of course, who could forget the badly-translated Asian bootleg of Star Wars: Episode III? Do not want! (http://winterson.com/2005/06/episode-iii-backstroke-of-west.html) And then there's Rocky Balboa (http://winterson.com/2007/04/rocky-vi-is-strange-shell-wave.html), where Michael Buffer's trademarked phrase is translated to "We open now." Oh, yes, apparently Rocky's name in Bootleg Land is "Strange." How rocky.

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