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Blind Idiot Translation / Comic Books

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Halting of Risata of (Comics)

  • In German comicbook Wendy whose Norwegian translation has shades of this: 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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 Fandom VIP 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 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 (well, technically it does if you're being really literal, however the phrase "bite me" is an idiom so it can't be translated directly. 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.
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  • 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.
  • From comics related to the Transformers franchise:
    • 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 (from "Patrick Lee"): Michiyamenotehi Funana!
    • The Hungarian translation of the British Titan Magazine comics became notorious for its memorable and nonsensical solutions, such as translating "Not on my watch" as "Not upon my wristwatch" or confusing Starscream with Blackout on a bonus poster. The publisher even turned down an offer from the fans when they tried to help out the translators.
    • In the Hungarian The Transformers (Marvel) comics, the mythic power source known as the Underbase had different names in the titles and the actual stories: Alsó Bázis (Lower Base, as if it were a place) and Alapbázis (Base-base), respectively. Characters like Wheeljack, Blaster, Powerglide or Sunstreaker also had at least two names depending on the translator.
    • 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.
    • While this wouldn't be so bad since the character is at least 4,000 years old and anything he would have spoken back then would not have resembled modern Arabic in any way, what is bad is that the X-Men have many Arabic-speaking members, and frequently mock Apocalypse. At least one of them should have made fun of what a confusing jumble his name would be to an Arabic speaker.
  • 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 to check if a "wolverine" really was the animal they thought it was. Later Norwegian translators named 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).
  • Asterix: Used for comedic effect in the original French version of Asterix in Britain, where the British characters speak French using literal translations of English phrases, including a character saying another had gone "noix". Mostly this shows up as switching adjectives and nouns around, but also transliterating classic Britishisms like "I say", "Goodness gracious", and "Rather".
  • Dark Empire, a Star Wars universe comic book, was the first translated into Polish in 1997... and it painfully shows. Not only did the translator disregard anything resembling established canon in terms of Polish translation of Star Wars-related terms that even existed back then, she even contridicted herself several times, not being able to decide whether the word for "Empire" should be "imperium" or "cesarstwo", even though the title of The Empire Strikes Back was long established as Imperium kontratakuje.note  To add insult to injury, the already Narmful dialogue was made even more awkward with little to no regard for natural Polish syntax. Thankfully, a much better translation was published years later.
  • Arawn: The English translation of the comic (originally published in French) is rather crude, especially when it comes to missing articles ("a", "the").
  • The title of the graphic novel A History of Violence (as well as its film adaptation) was translated in Spain as Una historia de violencia. In Spanish the word historia means both "history" as in the study of the past, and "story" as in tale, but not "history" as in personal record, so the title's meaning becomes the rather generic "A Story of Violence". An accurate Spanish translation to convey the intended original meaning would be "Un historial de violencia".
  • Ediciones Zinco's original Spaniard edition of the translation of Batman #426, the first chapter of the A Death in the Family arc, opens with the Dark Knight about to stop a gang that "sells pornographic material to young boys". While that may not be the most legal thing to do, in the original it's actually about a ring that sells kiddie porn, which justifies both their enormous secrecy and the fury Batman and Robin unleash in kicking their rears, while in the Spanish version the heroes unadvertently just come across as Holier Than Thou.