Monday, January 11, 2010

The Worst English-to-Spanish Movie Title Translations of 2009

In the midst of favorite movies of the decade madness, I had almost forgotten that our friend Nancy (whose tumblings you can find here) sent us an altogether different kind of list all the way from Madrid. I can't believe it's taken me so long to post this, but as I believe the grace period for year-end lists is still open (I'll have my 2009 movies list ready by Oscar time, I promise), now is as good a time as any. I'll let Nancy explain:

In Spanish cinemas lots of movies retain their original English titles, but many of them are poorly translated as well. You might recognize this movie poster, but you might not recognize the title, The Crystal (or Glass) Jungle. So I decided to make a list of the horrible translations I have witnessed over the past year while living in Spain.

All the way from Madrid, I present you with . . .


1. Where the Wild Things Are
Spanish Title:
Donde Viven Los Monstruos
Meaning: Where the Monsters Live

Somehow, it just seems less interesting. I thought the movie was entirely uninteresting as well, so maybe the Spanish translation is the better of the two.

2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Spanish Title:
X-Men OrĂ­genes: Lobezno
Meaning: X:Men Origins: Wolf cub

Little known fact, the wolverine animal does not exist in Spain. Thus, the hypermasculine super hero is transformed into a baby wolf.

3. He’s Just Not That Into You
Spanish Title:
Que Les Pasa a Los Hombres
Meaning: What Happens to Men

I was under the impression that the film is about what happens to the women who are interested in the emotionally unavailable men, but then again I didn’t actually see the film in the cinemas and I probably never will.

4. Funny People
Spanish Title:
Hazme Reir
Meaning: Make Me Laugh

Being an English teacher in Spain you will quickly find that your students don’t know the difference between fun and funny. They think a hilarious joke is “fun” and their enjoyable but normal weekend at home was “very, very funny”. Translators have clearly skipped the confusion with this title and just gone with a direct order - MAKE ME LAUGH!

5. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Spanish Title:
Lluvia de albondigas
Meaning: Meatball Rain

In Madrid it’s always sunny. I believe that the lack of alternate weather makes language for a weather forecast obsolete. A “chance of rain” doesn’t exist here, but meatballs do.

6. Bride Wars
Spanish Title:
Guerra de Novias
Meaning: War of Girlfriends/Fiancees/Brides

One word, three meanings.

7. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Spanish Title:
Hacemos una porno?
Meaning: Shall we make a porno?

Instead of Zack and Miri doing all the action, the title asks you to join them and get down and dirty in the back row of the cinema.

8. Fifty Dead Men Walking
Spanish Title:
50 Hombre Muertos
Meaning: Fifty Dead Men

In the Spanish version they’re not walking. They’re just dead.

9. Dance Flick
Spanish Title:
Dance Movie – Despatarre en la pista
Meaning: Dance Movie – Doing the splits in the road

Where do I start? Why have they changed half the title to a different English translation rather than Spanish? Why have they tried to explain the ambiguity of the title with the synopsis of doing the splits in the middle of a random street? Thanks, Spain.

10. It’s Complicated
Spanish Title:
No Es Tan Facil
Meaning: It’s Not So Easy

Translating isn’t compliated work, it’s just not as easy as you think.

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