Blind Idiot Translation / Comic Books

Halting of Risata of (Comics)

  • There's a German comic called Wendy. While the comic itself is forgettable (with some very weird quirks), the Norwegian translation is a mild version of this. It's not gripping, it's wonky, and a bit boring so kids won't find it interesting when first reading it. To make matters worse, there is a part where a female character is acting like a jerk. They could've used words like hurpe or kjærring (hag) to describe her, but instead the word they chose for Wendy to call her out with is merr. Colloquially it means "bitch", but literally it also means "mare" (female horse). What makes this a "Blind Idiot" Translation is that Wendy is an All Girls Love Horses comic...
  • The English translation of the first volume of Dungeon translates Main Gauche as "left hand." Although this is the literal French meaning of Main Gauche, in context, it's quite obviously referring to a knife or dagger wielded in the off hand. It shouldn't really be translated anyway, since it's also the English term for such a blade anyway.
  • The Dutch translation of ElfQuest gets particularly horrible somewhere around the Shards War arc: speech bubbles are aimed at the wrong characters, elves are suddenly given new names, and apparently none of the translators had read the original series at all. After five issues or so, the translation suddenly gets much better again, and a thank-you note to a Dutch Big Name Fan is included on the last page.
  • Dirty Pair: Run from the Future attempts a Bilingual Bonus, but ends up making several linguistic errors, one of which is hilarious. One of the criminals Kei and Yuri have been assigned to arrest is Jeannot Delagauchetière, who speaks (what is apparently intended to be) Québécois French. After putting restraints on him, Kei is about to say what he's under arrest for, when he somehow causes Kei's holo-camouflage to deactivate, and reveals that he has several heavy assault mecha under his control. He introduces these mecha by saying "Dis 'Allô' à mes p'tits amis". This literally means "Say hello to my little friends"; the problem is, it has the idiomatic meaning of "Say hello to my boyfriends". Oops! (Another problem is that "allô" is usually only used when answering a telephone call, and "bonjour" would have been the correct choice in this context.)
  • DC Comics apparently has no one with actual knowledge of the German language on their payroll, since they always rely on some shitty web translator or phonetic transcribing whenever German pops up. One example is here.
    • The same can be said for Italian, at least regarding the miniseries Catwoman: When in Rome: being set in Italy, they have a few characters speaking the local language, only with various grammatical errors and a literally translated "What the hell?!" (the equivalent curse in Italian, "Che cazzo?", can be literally translated as "What the dick?").
  • The Polish translation of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is ridiculously terrible: for example, some sentences (including plot-critical ones!) are translated into their exact opposites ("That doesn't make sense" into "That makes sense"); there are also many cases where the translator clearly misread the original (flesh/fresh, sweat/sweet).
  • One issue of The Simpsons comics has a French taximan say "Coup moi" to Bart. A caption indicates that "Coup moi" is supposed to be a translation of "Bite me". There are three problems here: 1) "Coup" is not a verb, it actually means "a blow" (as in "a blow to the face"); 2) "Bite me" would be translated literally as "Mords moi" (verb "mordre", second-person singular present imperative tense); 3) "Mords moi" actually does not mean the same thing as "bite me" at all. (Given what it literally translates to, the writer might have been aiming for something more like "blow me", in which case it should have been something like "suce ma bite".) Since the purpose of this particular comic is to mock French people, the author could have at least tried to write a correct two-word sentence in their language.
  • In the French-Canadian version of Sylvester & Tweety's comic book, "putty tat" becomes "zoli chat", which means "cute cat". They probably thought putty is derived from pretty instead of pussy. One wonders why they didn't use "Rominet" (from "gros minet", big pussycat), which is his name in the French version of Looney Tunes.
  • Transformers self-proclaimed "superstar artist" Pat Lee rendered his name on an old personal website in katakana. The problem? Rather than it being a transliteration of his name, he used a character-replacement font to replace every letter in his name with whichever katakana was under the same key. The result: Michiyamenotehi Funana!
  • The translation work of the Transformers comics from Titan Magazine in Hungary became notorious for its memorable and nonsensical solutions, such as translating "Not on my watch" as "Not upon my wristwatch". The publisher even turned down an offer from the fans when they tried to help out the translators.
    • The Italian translations have similar errors, usually mistaking a random word for a character's name. Examples include Blazemaster becoming "Bonfire" and Stratosphere being suddenly named "Groundhog".
  • The Italian translation of the comic included with Jetfire and Jetstorm's action figuresnote  makes two big errors. First, it translates Sentinel Prime as "Prime the Sentinel", then a line that originally says "Are you demoting me to drill sergeant?" becomes "Do you mean I'm back to teaching sergeants how to do their job?"
  • It's unclear exactly who Marvel goes to for their Arabic, but they're clearly being paid too much. Apocalypse was born in the Ancient Middle East and given an Arabic name that Marvel wanted to mean "The First One". What they used is "En Sabah Nur", which is a mixed up version of "Sabah En-Nur". "Sabah En-Nur" literally means "morning of light" and is the standard response to the phrase "Sabah Al-Khayr", or "good morning". Even worse, the "En" is really a part of the word "Nur", and it's gibberish on its own. The name effectively means nothing.
  • In the 1980's, India-based Everest Publications released a series of James Bond comics, which were then sold in Europe. One wonders if for their English translations, they just hired the first guy who walked in and said "shaken, not stirred". The comics included such unforgettable lines as "While 007 in siesta, plane jolted", "good evening, I am giving the sleeping gas" and "don't bother who the room intruder was!"
  • Remember that the first appearance of Wolverine was in an issue of The Incredible Hulk? Well, in the Norwegian translation of that comic, Wolverine is called Ulvemannen, literally meaning "The Wolf Man". Clearly, the translator couldn't be bothered to look in a dictionary and check if a "wolverine" really is the animal he thought it was. Later Norwegian translators call Wolverine "Jerv", which is the correct translation of his name.
    • Speaking of Wolverine, early French translations changed his name to Serval, a small, spotted African feline (admittedly, the French word for wolverine is "glouton", literally glutton).
  • Used for comedic effect in the original French version of Astérix in Britain, where the British characters speak French using literal translations of English phrases, including a character saying another had gone "noix".