Editing Internet Texts/Titles in translation

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In my project I would like to analyse the process of titles translation. If you are interested either in movies or in translation, this topic may be for you.

At first I will present a short definition of the title to introduce the topic. It turns out that the title is one of the most important factors that determines our interest in a particular movie. That is why it is highly important for film studios to create a title which will attract as many viewers as possible. Since the translation is understood as a practical task, I would like to focus on practice based on the strategies of titles translation. There are namely some strategies that the translator may use when he or she translates titles. In this practical part of my project I would like to compare English, German and Polish movie titles. I will look deeper into this matter and try to find the connection between the theory and the practice. As we all know some titles are so different from their originals that sometimes it is hard to recognise that we deal with the same movie only by looking at its title. At this point we can ask ourselves what is the reason for that. I will also try to find some information about it who actually makes a decision about creating this new title.

What is a title?[edit | edit source]

A movie is a quintessence of the present art. The beginnings of film industry stretch back to 1895[1]. At that time the magic of cinematography began. This magic refers to the ability of the movie to move, surprise or horrify its audience as if we actually participated in scenes played on the screen.

What do we take into account before choosing a particular film? What makes us think that one movie may be interesting whereas the other is a complete waste of time? It turns out that the title is one of the most important factors that determines our interest in a particular movie. That is why it is highly important for film studios to create a title which will attract as many viewers as possible. A good title should arouse the interest, be intriguing and have obvious aesthetic quality. But what is basically a title?

According to the Oxford dictionary a title is the name of a book, poem, painting, piece of music, etc.[2]

Strategies of titles translation[edit | edit source]

There are some strategies that the translator may use when he or she translates titles:

  1. Keeping the original title - the title doesn't change in target language.
  2. Literal translation - a word for word translation is formulated.
  3. Variation in a title - the translator has to make a decision whether he/she keeps the original title, changes or translates it. In this case we can speak about adaptation, reduction or expansion of the title.
  4. Innovation in a title - a completely new title is formulated. In this case the connection between the original and the new title is sometimes hard to recognise.
  5. So-called hybrids - partly original title is mixed with the addition in other language[3].
The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. Next Next Next
2. Earthquake Erdbeben Trzęsienie ziemi
3.1. Hard target Harte Ziele Nieuchwytny cel (adaptation/variation)
3.2. Over her dead body Nur über ihre Leiche – Meine himmlische Verlobte (expansion) Nawiedzona narzeczona
3.3. Hero and the Terror Hero (reduction) Bohater i strach
4. The best of me Mein Weg zu dir Dla Ciebie wszystko
5. The Lucky One The Lucky One – Für immer der Deine Szczęściarz

Titles in translation[edit | edit source]

Since the translation is understood as a practical task, in this part of my project I would like to focus on practice based on the strategies of titles translation and my remarks. I will look deeper into some examples, which I grouped according to some similarities that I observed, and on the basis of them I try to find the connection between the theory and the practice.

Literal translation[edit | edit source]

Tloftr-logo.svg
The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. Drei Three Trzy
2. The book thief Die Bücherdiebin Złodziejka książek
3. Cloud Atlas Der Wolkenatlas Atlas chmur
4. War of the Worlds Krieg der Welten Wojna światów
5. The Lord of the Rings Der Herr der Ringe Władca pierścieni

Above-mentioned examples present titles translated word for word. It's quite obvious that during translation we are looking for the proper counterparts. However, translating can be really complicated. It's not only about finding correct words, sometimes it seems to be impossible to use the equivalent in the target language because all language systems differ. Something that sounds very good in one language may be confusing or not understood in other language or culture. During his/her work translator may come across numerous difficulties like idioms, fixed phrases or culture-bound terms. When translating titles, we can't also forget that a good title has to attract viewers, have its specific form (not too long, interesting and catchy phrase). And sometimes translating word for word is not enough.

Adventure movies[edit | edit source]

The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. Die Jagd nach dem Schatz der Nibelungen The Charlemagne Code Kod Karola Wielkiego
2. Die Jagd nach der heiligen Lanze Spear of Destiny Poszukiwacze świętej włóczni
3. Die Jagd nach dem Bernsteinzimmer The Hunt for the Amber Room Poszukiwacze bursztynowej komnaty

In this part of my project I focused on German series of adventure movies. Generally we look for the analogy when it comes to series. Each part focuses on Die Jagd nach etwas that is to say on The Hunt for something. In case of the first part both German and Polish title refer to the plot - King of the Franks Charlemagne, who plays an important role in the history of legendary Nibelung treasure. In the second and the third part we have quite visible analogy between the titles.

Nicholas Sparks' novels[edit | edit source]

The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. The Notebook Wie ein einziger Tag Pamiętnik
2. The best of me Mein Weg zu dir Dla Ciebie wszystko
3. Dear John Das Leuchten der Stille Wciąż ją kocham
4. The Lucky One The Lucky One – Für immer der Deine Szczęściarz
5. The last song Mit Dir an meiner Seite Ostatnia piosenka
6. Nights in Rodanthe Das Lächeln der Sterne Noce w Rodanthe
7. A walk to remember Zeit im Wind/Nur mit dir Jesienna miłość/Szkoła uczuć

In my project I comment in general on translating titles of movies. However, Nicholas Sparks' novels are very interesting examples of titles translation. Besides, each Sparks' story that I chose, has been adapted for a film. Polish titles are at this point more or less successful. Generally they were literally translated, with some exceptions. On the other hand German titles are very creative and we may only try to interpret what was meant. In many cases such an interpretation requires our knowledge of the plot. I observed that we can distinguish another strategy of titles translation, namely, referring to the plot. The Notebook is a story of a man who reads his diary/notebook to a woman with Alzheimer's disease. The story relates to love between two young people and the notebook includes their whole relationship. When we read a diary, the life can be presented "like the only one day" (Wie ein einziger Tag).

In the second example we also have some variations and a reference to the plot. In original version we read:

"You might not understand, but I gave you the best of me, and after you left, nothing was ever the same."[4]

With this sentence Sparks summarizes the essence of his novel. The Polish title is like expansion of the main idea - I gave you the best of me, so I gave you everything that I could because I would do everything for you (Dla Ciebie wszystko). On the other hand, we can also refer to the plot, when it comes to the German title. Old lovers meet at the funeral of a friend after 20 years. Those 20 years symbolise the way which the characters had to go through to see each other again (Mein Weg zu dir).

As we can see, the last example also required a lot of creativity. The original title A walk to remember is quite hard to express in other language. It's also worth mentioning that both a novel and a movie have the same title. For its German and Polish counterparts there were created two different titles separately (one for a book, and another for a movie). Nevertheless none of them is close to the original at all.

In other cases of German titles it's quite difficult to say what was meant.

The Fast and the Furious series[edit | edit source]

Tfatf-logo.svg
The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. The Fast and the Furious The Fast and the Furious Szybcy i wściekli
2. 2 Fast 2 Furious 2 Fast 2 Furious Za szybcy, za wściekli
3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Szybcy i wściekli: Tokio Drift
4. Fast and Furious Fast & Furious – Neues Modell. Originalteile. Szybko i wściekle
5. Fast Five Fast & Furious Five Szybcy i wściekli 5
6. Furious 6 Fast & Furious 6 Szybcy i wściekli 6
7. Furious Seven Fast & Furious 7 Szybcy i wściekli 7
8. The Fate of the Furious Fast & Furious 8 Szybcy i wściekli 8

In this part of my project I would like to focus on one of my favourite series. First of all, I chose it to show an influence of English on German. Germans have very often a tendency just to keep the original English title. The Fast and the Furious series has several alternative titles, e.g., Furious 6 = Fast & Furious 6 = Fast Six. One of this versions is chosen by Germans and kept as a title. We can observe here a kind of an analogy. In case of Polish titles we observe some analogous changes based on what happened with the original title. Since original titles play deftly with words and numbers, the Polish titles try to reflect it (in my opinion quite successful). From fifth part we also have the same phrase but with the other number according to which part we are dealing with (Szybcy i wściekli 5, Szybcy i wściekli 6, 7, 8). That is quite common to have one title for the whole series and just add numbers to each part.

Keeping the original title[edit | edit source]

The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. Need for Speed logo.svg Need for speed Need for speed
2. Pitch Black Pitch Black Pitch Black
3. Van Helsing Van Helsing Van Helsing
4. Air Force One Air Force One Air Force One

One of the presented strategies gives the translator a possibility to keep the original title. It's an often solution if we, for example, deal with proper names (see example 3 and 4).

Confusing titles or innovations?[edit | edit source]

The Nightmare Before Christmas
The original title The German/English title The Polish title
1. Dirty Dancing Dirty Dancing Wirujący seks/Dirty Dancing
2. Die Hard Stirb langsam Szklana pułapka
3. Imagine me & you Eine Hochzeit zu Dritt Gry weselne
4. Made of honor Verliebt in die Braut Moja dziewczyna wychodzi za mąż
5. Hide and Seek Du kannst dich nicht verstecken Siła strachu
6. That's my boy Der Chaos-Dad Spadaj tato
7. 10 things I hate about you 10 Dinge, die ich an Dir hasse Zakochana złośnica
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas Nightmare Before Christmas Miasteczko Halloween

One of the strategies allows translator to formulate a completely new title. At this point we can undoubtedly disagree with the translator on his concept. We may ask ourselves why the translator creates something new while he already has a basis, that is the original title. Is there any place for creativity in translation? When does it go too far? When can we say that something was mistranslated? Above-mentioned examples seem to be quite confusing and don't correspond with one another. For instance the Polish title of the famous Dirty Dancing was considered to be mistranslated and the original title is much more common now. In other cases we may only wonder what was meant and why such titles were created.

Examples for other strategies[edit | edit source]

  • Global Effect → Global Effect - Am Rande der Vernichtung → Śmiertelny wirus
  • Divergent → Die Bestimmung - Divergent → Niezgodna

German titles are mixed with two languages (hybrids) and expanded.

  • 7 Zwerge → 7 Dwarves → 7 krasnoludków - historia prawdziwa

Expansion in Polish title.

Who makes a decision about creating a new title?[edit | edit source]

As we all know some titles are so different from their originals that sometimes it is hard to recognise that we deal with the same movie only by looking at its title. At this point we can disagree with the translator on his/her concept. However, is it really a translator's failure? Who actually makes a decision about creating a new title?

Some trailers[edit | edit source]

  1. The Fate of the Furious
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. The best of me
  4. Van Helsing
  5. Need for speed
  6. That's my boy
  7. Divergent

To my readers[edit | edit source]

Dear readers,

if you are at this point of my project, it means that we are drawing to a close. Thank you for reading it! As a short task I would like to ask you for sharing your examples of titles translation and maybe some comments on your examples as well as on those that I presented. Don't hesitate to contact me. We can expand this topic together!

Katharina199317 (discusscontribs) 13:33, 21 May 2017 (UTC)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kino#Pocz.C4.85tki_kina
  2. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 8th edition (2010), p.1626
  3. Bouchehri, Regina (2008): Filmtitel im interkulturellen Transfer, p.65-85.
  4. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/476478-because-you-aren-t-just-someone-i-loved-back-then-you