Woolseyism / Other

Puppet Shows
  • When Star Fleet was distributed to England, the dubbing team was given an overly literal and uncleaned up translation. Dubbing director Louis Elman brought in American writer Michael Sloan (creator and writer of series such as Master Ninja and The Equalizer) to adapt the scripts. Sloan added many terms such as "hyper speed", "quantum power", "parsecs" and "militons" to this adaptation, and giving most of the characters sensible name changes, whilst keeping the storyline.

Newspaper Comics
  • In the eighties, there were two different Norwegian translations of Garfield: one in which he kept his original name, and one in which he was named Pusur. The former tried to stay close to the original text, while the latter sometimes altered the text completely, changing the content of entire storylines (a sequence where Jon and Garfield are watching a horror movie is changed to having them watch a crappy vaudeville show, complete with references to very obscure Norwegian celebrities). Translation with an Agenda was also a common occurence. Eventually, the former school of translation won out, but the name Pusur remained and became canon.
  • In The Pre-History of The Far Side, Gary Larsen discusses a change that was made in one of his cartoons before it was distributed to foreign markets. In the cartoon, a ship drops a microphone into the water to record whale songs, and a whale swims up to the microphone and sings "Louie Louie". In some foreign markets, the whale instead sings "Singing in the Rain". Larsen admits that Singing in the Rain was funny, and writes that the song change was probably due to Louie Louie being less well-known outside of the US.
    • In another, he mentions one of his cartoons (a penguin indistinguishable from the others sing "I gotta be me") turned into a greeting card, with the difference that the singing penguin was turned yellow. He regarded this as an inversion for Completely Missing the Point of the cartoon.
  • One Polish translation of Calvin and Hobbes renamed it "Kelvin & Celsjusz"note , while the Finnish one renamed it "Lassi ja Leevi" after Lars Levi Læstadius. The Norwegian name of the strip is Tommy og Tigern note .
    • In one strip, Calvin complains about "the lack of sex education" because the English language doesn't have grammatical genders. When it was translated into Norwegian, which does have grammatical genders, "Tommy" instead complains about grammatical genders being politically incorrect.

Tabletop Games
  • Used in Magic: The Gathering on occasion. The Italian version of Volcanic Fallout is "Pioggia di Lapilli" ("Rain of Lapilli"), the Italian Tideforce Elemental is "Elementale della Marea Selvaggia" (approximately "Savage-Tide Elemental"), and the Italian Splinter Twin is "Gemellare" ("Twinning").
    • This can result in a pun which cannot easily be retranslated back to English. The card Lightmine Field was translated into Italian as Campo Illu-Minato - "illuminato" meaning "illuminated" and "minato" meaning "mined" in the sense of having explosives placed in it.
    • The Slivers - Hive Mind creatures, each of which grants abilities to all the others - are known in Italian as "Tramutanti", from the same root as English "transmute".
  • What may be the most amazing translated name, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card called "Mind Hack" in Japanese was astonishingly renamed Mind Haxorz in the English translation.
    • Other cards that had "death" in the name were translated as "Des," for cards such as "Des Koala" and "Des Frog." Initially just a Bowlderization. Then comes "D.3.S. Frog" (a fusion of three Des Frogs), which in Japanese was "Gaeru San-Death"; literally "Frog 3-Death", but also a pun on "Gaeru-san desu", meaning "I'm Mr Frog".
    • The Frog archetype is full of this, as the entire archetype is just Japanese puns on "frog". One of the better ones is "Underworld Frog", whose name sounds like "yomigaeru", or "return to life", reflected by its revival effect. This was changed to "Treeborn Frog", punning on "Reborn Frog."
    • And then you have the card "Tasukeleton" in the OCG (a zombie pig you can banish to negate an attack). Its TCG name? "Bacon Saver".
    • The archetype named "Ritua" in Japan (as in, a corruption of the English word "ritual") was changed to "Gishki" in the English game, a corruption of "gishiki", which means "ritual" in Japanese. The feel was preserved, and a pretty good name in its own right was created.
  • The French translation of the ork tellyporta from Warhammer 40,000 is "téla-tépula", which means "you iz here-you izn't here no more". An orkier description of a teleporter you will not find. Similarly, shootas and choppas become "ki'tir'" and "ki'coup'", "(thing) that shoots" and "(thing) that chops" (though the former was later renamed "fling'", based on French slang for "gun").
    • Taken to new heights with the 7th Edition Ork codex, which added the Tellyport Blasta, a weapon capable of telefragging the enemy: The French translation is the brilliant "Boum Tépula" ("Boom you'z gone").
    • In the Italian translation, the Deff Dread was translated as "Zkatola di Morte", something like "Da Box of Deff", while the Kommandos became "Guaztatori", which would be translated back as something like "Spoila Boyz" and Warbikers, while are usually translated with the bland "Orki Motociklizti" ("Bika Orks") in other pieces of lore are shortened to "Motorkociklizti" ("Motorkbikas")
    • The best Italian translation, however, is what they did with the Bolters, who were renamed with the more suggestive (and fitting with the Imperium way of naming things) "Requiem guns".

  • Brian Hooker's excellent translation of Cyrano de Bergerac. He substituted lines and allusions to William Shakespeare and Marlowe which were appropriate to the classical French theatre quoted in the original text. This inspired Anthony Burgess to use the same approach in his own translation 50 years later.
  • The Metropolitan Opera adaptation of Die Fledermaus by Howard Dietz and Garson Kanin is usually not a literal translation but fairly close; it gives actual lyrics to the refrain of the waltz ensemble whose original German text is "duidu, duidu, la la la la la." Sometimes, however, they couldn't be bothered to do anything more literate than a Better Than a Bare Bulb spoof, as in the Irrelevant Act Opener which now ran, "It's the kind of libretto where we all are at a ball."
  • The English version of Les MisÚrables, as opposed to its "Concept" version, released in French some years before. "At the end of the day", for example, takes all the best from "Quand un jour est passé", gets rid of the less effective lines and most importantly is easier to sing. The original lyrics are impossibly hard to articulate clearly; the translation is more musical because of the added alliterations, etc. Another stellar example is "Castle on a Cloud," which manages to make Cosette's characterization and sadness shine through much better.
  • The British version of Spamalot changed the song "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" to "You Won't Succeed in Showbiz". They also changed the jokes about Jews to stars for fears the the British audience wouldn't understand it due to the U.K.'s small Jewish population.

Web Original
  • The Swedish dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has several examples of this.
    • Bakura is changed from British to Scanian, with appropriate cultural references changed (like eating spettekaka instead of bangers and mash). Likewise, Joey is from Stureplan instead of Brooklyn.
    • As the final Harry Potter book had been out for years when the Swedish dub of episode 23 was released, the book Téa had spoiled was changed to the final Twilight book, and her ship is changed from Harry/Hedwig to Edward/Jacob.
    • There's also this change in dialogue:
      English!Mokuba: Let's go find the genie voiced by Robin Williams and occasionally by Dan Castellaneta.
      Swedish!Mokuba: Let's go find the genie voiced by Dan Ekborg, who also played Hades.
  • In RWBY, the criminal Roman Torchwick mockingly refers to protagonist Ruby Rose as "Red". The Japanese dub changes this to "Akazukin", the Japanese name for Little Red Riding Hood — which doubles as a Mythology Gag since Ruby's character design was explicitly inspired by the character.

  • The name of Tel Aviv, Israel is a Woolseyism: the intent was to name the city after Theodore Herzl's book Altneuland (An Old-new Land), but this didn't translate well into Hebrew. Thus, to get the idea across, a combination of Tel, refering to an ancient archeological site in the form of a hill, and Aviv, spring (the season), which symbolizes renewal.
    • In fact, the name "Tel Aviv" came well before the city - it was the original name given to the book by its Hebrew translator.
    • Moreover, there was a Biblical site named Tel Aviv from which the name was taken, albeit not at the site of the current city.
      • That's allegedly the reason it was chosen - people argued whether to give it a name referring to Zionism or The Bible. Tel Aviv was both.
  • Neopets does it with their own site sometimes, since some of the jokes, even when adapted, are still horrible as the original ones. But then, since Viacom expelled Adam and Donna from the team, it was just bound to happen.
  • As TV Tropes goes from language to language, tropes occasionally get names that are neither direct translations nor bland descriptions. For instance, the French version of All of the Other Reindeer, Vilain Petit Canard, instead references the fairytale The Ugly Duckling, while the German version of Germans Love David Hasselhoff is Amerikaner Lieben Rammstein (Americans Love Rammstein). On the Russian site, The Scrappy is The Despised Jar Jar Binks, since Scooby-Doo is too obscure there to even be mentioned on the page as of April 2018.
  • When Coca-Cola first came to the Chinese market in 1928, there was no official representation of the name in Mandarin, so several shopkeepers interpreted it in different ways. While the right sounds (ko-ka-ko-la) were used, the wrong characters were used, producing interpretations such as "Bite the Wax Tadpole" or "Bite the Wax-Fattened Mare". Eventually, an official translation of Coca-Cola was used, sounding fairly close to its name (ke kou ke le) with the added bonus of meaning (more or less) "Tasty and fun" or more loosely/poetically, "Let your mouth rejoice". [1]
  • Isaac Watts' psalm "translations" for use in the Anglican church. Until the mid-1800s, the Anglican church didn't allow singing of hymns, but metrical translations of the Book of Psalms and other scriptural references were considered sacred enough for use. To hear Watts tell the tale, King David made direct references both to his own far-distant descendant Jesus Christ (by name, no less), and to the British empire - an international power ruling large amounts of land mass which were completely unknown to the Hebrews in David's time, seated in a nation that had yet to be created. Some of Watts' translations are still in use - "Joy to the World" chief among them!
  • The G.I. Joe franchise was renamed Action Force for the European market, because the phrase "G.I. Joe" wouldn't have meant anything to the non-American audience.
  • The Jonathan Coulton song "Re: Your Brains" has a French version ("Re: Vos Cerveaux") which replaces the line "All we want to do is eat your brains! We're not unreasonable; I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes!"" with "On veut juste vous bouffer le cerveau! Non, ce n'est pas si bête; ca va pas t'couter les yeux de la tête!" This translates roughly as "We just want to eat your brains! It's not so bad; it won't cost you the eyes from your head!" However, in French, "couter les yeux de la tête" is an idiomatic expression for something expensive, similar to saying something "costs an arm and a leg."
  • In some Fairy tales that feature a Wicked Witch that isn't always named, especially "Hansel and Gretel", sometimes the witch is Baba Yaga - as in, the Baba Yaga from Slavic mythologies, seeing as she is pretty much the slavic Wicked Witch.
    • There is at least one case when a Sicilian fairy tale was translated to Russian as Baba Yaga. The original was Mammadraga, a similar enough creature in concept, except Baba Yaga isn't usually described with snake hair.
  • When all of the Latin prayers and other parts of the Catholic mass were translated into various native languages after Vatican II, it was decided that more user friendly translations would be used instead of direct translations.
    • However, around 2000, the Holy See acknowledged that the required modern English translations of 1969 were inappropriate. After about 10 years of research, study, and surveys a new translation with minor changes was released in 2011 under Benedict the XVI. The newer versions stick with words closer to the original Latin such as "consubstantial" or "hosts" (collective now for angels).
    • In the Japanese version of the Catholic Mass, at the point where most languages use a translation of "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof...", the Japanese say 主よ、あなたは神の子キリスト、永遠のいのちの糧、あなたをおいてだれのところへ行き ましょう note . This is because, due to the Japanese tradition of humility and self-abasement, the traditional prayer would be seen merely as common courtesy with no real meaning, and the Japanese bishops have consequently substituted a Biblical passage that would be more meaningful to a Japanese audience.
  • Manga on Danbooru is an interesting case. Usually the translators will try to keep it as close to source as possible, but occasionally this will happen, almost always with a note stating the literal translation.
  • The old idiom "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. A direct translation would be "If you are in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there."
  • Key West is an anglization of the Spanish Cayo Hueso, meaning "Bone Cay". Key West also happens to be a very strategic island controlling shipping between Florida and Cuba. It remaining loyal in The American Civil War was key to allow the Union to take New Orleans and damage the Confederacy's fighting ability in the west.