Blind Idiot Translation: Newspaper Comics
Papers of the newest comedians (Newspaper Comics)
- Jim Davis has said that he tries to avoid puns and American-centric references in Garfield so that the strip can translate internationally, but he didn't always do that at first, leading to some pretty bad translations in at least the Spanish version:
- In an early strip, "I ate a Milk Dud and kissed a cat" became "I hate spoiled milk and kissing cats." Obviously, this was a too-literal translation of "Milk Duds", but to be fair, those are sold only in the United States.
- Another strip didn't seem to grasp that "Good Humor man" referred to a brand of ice cream, so "Good Humor" got translated literally to refer to a friendly/sympathetic man.
- "I feel like a dirty magazine" (as in, a pornographic magazine) became "I feel like a dirty old magazine" (as in, unwashed).
- And other times, the translators just managed to screw up anyway:
- In a strip where Garfield is caught up a tree, Garfield's dialogue was translated to something like "Pero al menos no he roto una pata" ("But at least I haven't broken a limb/leg") even though he's clearly pointing to a branch, making it clear that the "sturdy limb" he's talking about is the tree branch.
- Another 1983 strip turned "They say the pet alligators that are flushed into the sewers grow to huge proportions" into "They say that there are enormous crocodiles" (?!?).
- To be fair, the Garfield translators have gotten much better, to the point that they sometimes embellish the jokes with Spanish puns or rhymes (including some that even translate back into English). Pretty much the only major mistakes they've made are:
- "Somewhere between Floyd the whistling snake and crabgrass" became "Somewhere between a snake and a crab."
- This one had the translators failing to realize that "chili dog" is a food, and thus translated it as "chihuahua".
- This one got translated literally into Spanish, but to be fair, it was a very rare exception to Jim Davis' "no wordplay" rule.
- These two strips accidentally ended up with each other's dialogue in the Spanish translation.
- In the Spanish version of this strip, they forgot to invert the words for "beef stew", thus killing the joke. Considering how well most of the other strips are translated, this one really stands out as a glaring error.
- In this strip, "'Sup?" (i.e. "What's up?") became "Do you want to have dinner?" Granted, this does make sense in context given Garfield's ravenous personality.
- This seems to be standard operating procedure for the Spanish comics on gocomics.com. One FoxTrot strip had Jason mention that he wanted "cash" for Christmas and got a Johnny Cash album. The Spanish translator paid no heed to the pun and simply translated "cash" as "efectivo", destroying the entire point of the joke and putting nothing in its place. One translation that would have worked for Spanish is if Jason had said he asked for lana (Spanish for "wool" but also a slang for money) and gotten a sweater instead of money.
- In Poland at least, Dilbert strips in their book editions do get plagued with translation problems from time to time, depending on who's translating. One spectacular example is when two strips were rendered incomprehensible because "static" was translated as "movie extras". (The translator probably confused "static" with the word statysta.)
- The Swedish Beetle Bailey magazinenote has an odd case of this. The puns are either left untranslated and published as "English Reading Practice" strips (with every other word given a translation beneath the strip, thus explaining the joke) or given creative replacements (most often regarding Wiley's Dictionary, which have had puns involving such strange things as sugar cubes suffering from rabies). However, there are some strange translation choices such as "Bless you" once getting translated as "prosit" (that Swedes say instead of "Gesundheit!" after somebody has sneezed) when a better translation would have been the more literal "Gud välsigne dig!"note , and the inverse problem of words that have been stolen from English and become part of the Swedish language getting literal translations. (Smartphone → "Smart mobil" = "A generic phone (of any kind) that is smart")