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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Television  |  The real meaning of "Lost in translation." « previous next »
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Author Topic: The real meaning of "Lost in translation."  (Read 2284 times)
WyreWizard
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« on: June 29, 2012, 10:33:26 PM »

I don't understand why TV shows and movies don't translate foreign dialogue with the pathetic excuse of "It loses something in the translation."  Loses what exactly?

Well I can only think of one thing lost in translation.  The ability of two lines to rhyme.  I mean lets face it, no word is ever the same in all languages.  And very often if you take two lines from a poem that rhyme perfectly then translate them to another language, they don't rhyme anymore.

Take for instance these opening lines from my poem Carnival of Insanity:

A new fair has just rolled in from many towns
But this is more than a fair with rides and clowns
Take heed for this is not your ordinary theme park
Step in and you'll see a side of humanity that is dark

Now we translate them to Spanish:

Una nueva feria acaba de rodar en muchas ciudades,
pero esto es algo más que una feria con paseos y payasos
Hay que tener cuidado para no es un parque temático ordinaria
paso en y verás un lado de la humanidad que es oscuro

Now translate them to French:
Un nouveau juste a juste roulé dans de nombreuses villes
mais ce n'est plus qu'une juste avec des manèges et clowns
tenir compte de cet état de fait n'est pas ordinaire votre parc
à thème et vous verrez un côté de l'humanité qui est sombre

As you can see, it not just the changing of words that takes away their ability to rhyme, but also the syntax.  So sorry movies and TV shows, that "Lost in Translation" nonsense is unacceptable.
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Pacman000
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 09:59:25 AM »

Sometimes it can refer to cultural differences.  An allusion in one culture might be clear, while in another culture it's obscure.  Also, words can have double meanings which may not translate properly. 
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dean
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 10:34:25 AM »


Cultural idioms don't necessarily translate.  I can't think of some off hand but I was talking to a friend about a chinese movie once and he said the english translation was a bit more literal, and when he rephrased it, it sounded more poetic.  Wish I could remember what it was.

I also watched a pirated copy of Lord of the rings once which was translated into chinese then back into english [subtitles that is] and it was pretty funny.  The character names were different [Kagolaxis = Legolas for example] Gollum swore quite a lot and the orcs were called 'half b&$%h men'

Definitely lost some in translation. 
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Pacman000
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 07:43:29 PM »

There's also rhythm.  In one language a phrase might have a good beat; in another language it doesn't.
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BoyScoutKevin
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2012, 04:11:38 PM »

Humor is another thing that is lost in translation. Something funny or sounds funny in one language may not sound funny, when translated into another language. Of course, sometimes the translation is inadvertently humorous, but that is why action films play better in most countries than comedies. Almost everyone understands the action, but not everyone understands the humor.
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Trevor
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 05:30:40 AM »

Dit het seker in die vertaling verlore geraak.  Smile
« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 06:37:08 AM by Trevor » Logged

Newt
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 08:01:20 AM »

Il a bien sûr perdu dans la traduction.
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2012, 08:24:50 AM »

Qu'est-ce qui se passe ici?  Wink
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Newt
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2012, 08:37:46 AM »

Pardonnez-moi s'il vous plaît: il est trop amusant de jouer avec le troll. 
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"I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great." - Roddy Mc Dowell
"May I offer you a Peek Frean?" - Walter Bishop
"Thank you for appreciating my descent into deviant behavior, Mr. Reese." - Harold Finch
 "I'm going to need a swat team ready to mobilize, street maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammie dodgers and a fez." -  11
AndyC
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2012, 08:42:43 AM »

Speaking of French, cursing is another thing that doesn't always translate. In English, we tend to use bodily functions and sex in our expletives. French Canadians, even those who aren't practicing Catholics, might let fly with a stream of church-related terminology.

Translated directly into English, we might get something like "Sacred host of the tabernacle of Christ!" Sounds very religious, but the true meaning is more along the lines of "Holy motherf***king son of a b!tch!"

What is an insult, curse or otherwise offensive statement in one culture might mean something different - or nothing at all - in another.
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2012, 08:54:20 AM »

Pardonnez-moi s'il vous plaît: il est trop amusant de jouer avec le troll.  

 TeddyR TeddyR TeddyR Thumbup

If I have to tell you how much that stretched my limited French, well......  TeddyR

My high school friends who took French (I took Afrikaans) always used to amuse themselves by giving me the rudest things to say in French and then stood back as I took verbal abuse from their French teacher.  Buggedout TeddyR
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Newt
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2012, 09:03:09 AM »

AndyC is so right: Trevor never, never say "tabernac" !  It is very rude.  Wink  We had fun with that as kids - the thrill of being naughty while not (sort of!).   BounceGiggle
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"I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great." - Roddy Mc Dowell
"May I offer you a Peek Frean?" - Walter Bishop
"Thank you for appreciating my descent into deviant behavior, Mr. Reese." - Harold Finch
 "I'm going to need a swat team ready to mobilize, street maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammie dodgers and a fez." -  11
AndyC
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 10:05:35 AM »

AndyC is so right: Trevor never, never say "tabernac" !  It is very rude.  Wink  We had fun with that as kids - the thrill of being naughty while not (sort of!).   BounceGiggle

Hanging out with Mennonite kids, I picked up a few interesting Low German expressions. Been a long time, so I can't think of a good example right now. I do recall that being largely a rural agricultural people, a number of their sayings come from that setting, and might lose some of their clarity if translated to English without the necessary context.

Reminds me of a funny story I heard from an old Mennonite guy I used to work with. He and some other guys were working with a non-Mennonite who wanted to learn some German phrases, so they taught him some. I don't remember what they told him exactly, but by the time they were done with him, he was going around saying: "I've got a hard-on. I learned it from the stud horse. I'm going home to f**k my wife."
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AndyC
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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2012, 05:48:12 PM »

Jokes can also lose something when translated, particularly those that make use of any kind of wordplay. I don't imagine puns could survive translation at all.
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2012, 01:16:25 AM »

I don't remember what they told him exactly, but by the time they were done with him, he was going around saying: "I've got a hard-on. I learned it from the stud horse. I'm going home to f**k my wife."

 Buggedout+ BounceGiggle BounceGiggle TeddyR

I think that's pretty much what my high school friends told me to say.  TeddyR
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