When translating, one does not simply swap one word for another. Writers choose their words carefully, combining characteristics like sounds, sentence structure and meaning to create different effects. Often, what works in one language simply doesn’t work in another, and translators have to come up with creative solutions that preserve the impact of the original words.
Here are 3 iconic moments from fantasy and science fiction that probably gave their translators fits:
Game of Thrones: Hold the Door!
You may have seen this collection of images floating around the interwebs this week. It shows how Game of Thrones translators dealt with the death of everyone’s favorite gentle giant, Hodor. Just in case you missed it: it was revealed that Hodor was originally an intelligent, articulate stablehand named Wylis. An accident of time travel gave poor young Wylis a vision of his eventual death in the show, fending off undead long enough for his young charges Bran and Meera to escape. The vision caused a seizure that left Wylis brain-damaged, endlessly repeating “Hodor!,” a contracted version of “Hold the Door!”
Obviously, this was not an easy scene to translate, as the equivalent words for “Hold the door!” do not necessarily sound like “Hodor!” in other languages.
For example, the Dutch translators had it easy:
The Italian translators had to get a bit more creative, changing “Hold the Door!” to “Block the horde!”: