You’d think that if you were distributing one of this year’s biggest blockbuster movies in a market the size of China, you’d be willing to spend the money to get a good Chinese translation.
Or not. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was released in China last week, and apparently the subtitles got lost in translation. China Daily called reception of the film “lukewarm,” citing poor translation as one reason:
Weibo user “Gudabaihua,” who has become popular for uploading and subtitling video clips on social media, said he hasidentified at least 80 translation mistakes in the Chinesesubtitles. “Aside from a lot of mistranslations, the subtitles failedto show the original feel of the movie, such as jokes, puns andhomophones. We cannot help but doubt the professionalism of the translator.”
A few of the highlights, via The Mary Sue:
- When other characters insult Rocket by calling him “weasel” or “rodent,” the Chinese subtitles merely say “small raccoon.”
- “We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, b***!” was translated “We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, slut!”
- “Turd blossom” became “big face.”
- “Pelvic sorcery” became “rhetoric sorcery.”
- Instead of teaching people how to dance, Kevin Bacon teaches them how to “twist a**.”
Humor, jokes and puns are all notoriously difficult to translate into another language and another culture. However, it’s certainly not impossible. And when your product is entertainment, you can’t afford to have your translators miss the punchline. Despite the errors, Wikipedia notes that China is the third-highest international market for the film — but how much better would it have done if Chinese viewers felt properly catered to?
Marketing messages, product packaging and other business communications can suffer from the same sorts of problems. That’s why it’s so important to get the job done right the first time. At K International, our experienced, professional translators translate your company’s voice into your customer’s language, so they can laugh with you (when applicable), not at you!