Friday 21 October 2011

"We're gonna need a bigger pan."

I generally want to avoid Engrish on this blog. Other sites have done it better/more authoritatively/to death, and I don’t feel there’s much to add at this point. Plus, after the initial giggling rush has worn off, it’s so pervasive that you barely even notice it’s unusual anymore. Like working in porn.

Yes, exactly like that.

So when I saw this little beauty in Deo Deo the other day, I didn’t really think much of it –

“Ha! They got their Ls and Rs mixed up! They couldn’t find their Rs with their Lbow!” etc.

I did pick it up and have a closer look though, because –

A. There might well have been tits on the back cover.
B. Unlike their surreally abstract Chinese counterparts, Japanese translations of foreign movie titles are often crushingly literal. Thus Billy Elliot becomes ‘Little Dancer’, Men of Honor becomes ‘The Diver’, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest becomes ‘Bitch Nurse’, and so on.

In this instance the original title is Swamp Shark, so I actually think the translators have managed to reverse their usual trick and inject a (tiny) bit more poetry. Well done! Shame about the R/L thing though.

But wait, we look at the spine of the case and we get this –

How does this happen? It’s not even the original title. The Japanese title is right there, actually in Japanese. Why use English at all? It only opens you up to this type of screw-up.

Maybe I’m being uncharitable. Maybe they were aware of the L/R problem and, being unable to access a dictionary, or someone with a basic grasp of English, or the internet (maybe they actually were in a swamp) decided to split the difference? After all, if they use both, one of them must be right, yeah? Of course, then one of them will also be wrong, but that’s a price worth paying for, errm...

Worth paying to achieve, ah…


Look! Up there! A flying shark!!!


  1. Japan: still using local 'experts' who've never gone abroad, for English documents, sixty-five years after getting all their boats sunk because they didn't change their codes for the ENTIRE war. I could justify the connection... but it's time to go to bed.

    "Don't mention the war!"

  2. Then you'll be wanting to have a look at my "A Little Knowledge" post as well.

    But you might have to expand of the war connection for me. Were they sunk by flying sharks? Flying sharks with laser beams on their heads? That would be so fricking cool...