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sacredspirit

western movies - Chinese titles, why they are so different

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sacredspirit

大家好!

I am making an attempt to write something on transcreation in movie titles (Chinese, Spanish and Polish).  Initially I thought I just focus on English - Polish titles, but since I studied Chinese few years back I figured - why not give it a try?

I have found something interesting. Western titles have more than 1 equivalent in Chinese. Usually it is a literal translation and then totally different title (here we have the "transcreation" term involved - source text recreation - adaptation to different target audience).

 

What I found interesting is that  a lot of movies has many titles, usually 1 literal translation or a very close translation and the one totally different that the original, 

for example, for The Devil Wears Prada I have found a few movie translation:
  1. 时尚女魔头 (adaptation/transcreation)
2. 穿著Prada的惡魔 (literal translation)
I want to focus on the version that differs from the original title. Can anyone recommend the best database of English movies and their Chinese titles?
Also, why there are so many versions of titles? Is it true that Mainland China chooses usually the literal translation, whereas Taiwan decides to recreate/change the title completely?
One last thing, the title "时尚女魔头" is to be translated back literally into "fashionable female devil"? any suggestions in here? And also, is this title more approachable to the target audience, if so, why is that?

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roddy

In that example, the obvious answer is that you might not be able to rely on Chinese audiences to recognize the foreign brand and any connotations.

 

You could have a look at the movie listings on Douban and select for 欧美 - EU/US. That lets you find stuff like 盗梦空间 Inception 阿甘正传 Forrest Gump and 利刃出鞘 Knives Out.

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Lu
On 2/22/2020 at 5:25 PM, sacredspirit said:

Also, why there are so many versions of titles?

As far as I know, there are usually different titles for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I suppose that is because each has different distributors, who in turn make different choices based on what their audience knows, responds well to and is familiar with. You can see the same thing happen with books, and even in the English-speaking world: the first Harry Potter book was The Philosopher's Stone in the UK and The Sorcerer's Stone in the US.

 

时尚女魔头 translates as 'She-Devil of Fashion' but also as 'The Fashionable She-Devil'. Excellent title, if you ask me.

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roddy

Another factor is that often, movies and so on don't arrive in China officially - pirated DVDs and streaming sites might come up with their own title before official distributors have even thought about it. 

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ChTTay

绿巨人 as the Hulk was always one of my favourites. 

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Tomsima

閃靈 for The Shining is often cited as a fantastic transcreation/translation of a movie title, as it captures the mood, meaning and sound of the English in such a simple and effective way

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