Term Paper, 2010, 14 Pages
Title translation is one of the branches of movie dubbing. The process of title translation seems easy, but when we take a closer look at the names, phrases, and syntaxes of the titles, we might see that this process is not as easy as it seems.
The film title is very important for the future audience of the film, as the title is one of the main reasons, why a person decides to watch the film. The translation of film titles often provides “[…] insights into the values, priorities and zeitgeist of a culture” 1 and so it is not possible to just take any title, when intended that people should watch the film. The film title is also very important, but for other reasons, for the film studio, for the producer, and for all people involved in making the film. Their interests are mainly in commerce because they want to sell the film and make profit. In my paper I want to talk about why changes are made, which types of changes and I want to show these changes on the basis of different examples. These examples are titles of older films, but also titles of recent films. Furthermore, I will show the difficulties with film title translations, mistakes that have been made, but also successful title translations.
The first survey on the typology of changes was conducted by Hesse-Quack in 1969. The survey was the comparison of the source language titles (English and French) with the target language titles (German). All in all, there were 1368 titles of English, American and French films from 1945 to 1962 compared. The survey brought up three basic findings:
- Target language titles were more precise in grammatical structure, there was an increase in the number of meaningful units and a more frequent use of adverbials and attributive adjectives.
- The emotional impact is greater in the target language titles than in the source language titles.
- Culturally specific information and allusions occur more often in the source language titles than in the target language titles. 2
1 Candace Whitman-Linsen, Through the Dubbing Glass. The Synchronization of American Motion
Pictures into German, French and Spanish. (Frankfurt: Peter Lang Verlag, 1992) 172.
2 Ibid. 172-173.
Other examples, where a pun or an idiom can be found in the English title, sometimes also in the German title, are the following titles: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels by Guy Ritchie (Bube, Dame, König, grAs) Fever Pitch by David Evans (Ballfieber) Cinderfella by Frank Tashlin (Aschenblödel)
English to German film title translators often have the habit to translate English titles that are made up of substantives, catchwords or names, into German sentences. I would like to cite a few examples for this habit: Once Upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone (Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod) Singin’ in the Rain by Kelly and Stanley Donen (Du sollst mein Glücksstern sein) Stripes by Ivan Reitman (Ich glaub’, mich knutscht ein Elch) The Third Wheel by Jordan Brady (Hilfe, ich habe ein Date) Sliding Doors by Peter Howitt (Sie liebt ihn - Sie liebt ihn nicht) Coming Home by Hal Ashby (Sie kehren heim)
As we can see in the above titles, most of the English titles do not have anything in common with the German titles. The reason for this habit could be that the German-speaking audience pays more attention to longer and complete sentences. Another reason is that phrases like “coming home” cannot be expressed as clearly and as easily in German as in English. This is because of the lack of the gerund and the present participle in German. Therefore, the translators have to find other solutions for this problem. The German title for the
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