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Playing With / Cultural Translation

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Basic Trope: A translated work replaces the original cultural references with references to the target audience's culture.

  • Straight: The work Autoren im Not! was written in German, and tended to make references to local authors and news. When the work is brought over to a British audience as Authors in Need!, the translators rewrite these references so they're about British authors instead.
  • Exaggerated: The translators don't just replace references; Authors in Need! is written as if it took place in Britain all along.
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  • Downplayed: One or two cultural references that really would have been untranslatable (such as references to a German mythological beast which has no equivalent in British folklore) get this treatment, or rephrases characters' statements on the subject so they can explain to each other (and the viewer) what they're talking about when it was subtler in the original.
  • Justified:Autoren im Not! was never supposed to take place in a real-life country; just a fictional one which took clues from real life. As such there would be little sense in keeping cultural references that the target audience wouldn't get.
  • Inverted: The British translation inserts plenty of Bilingual Bonuses and references to German culture, almost to the point of readers needing to know German to understand the full story.
  • Subverted: Autoren im Not! gets dubbed by people with stereotypical British accents, but this is done to semi-accurately reflect how the characters' dialect would sound to people from other parts of Germany. The dub does not overtly reference British culture.
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  • Double Subverted: Until the work starts spelling German names in an Anglicised manner.
  • Parodied: In the dubbed version the characters start singing "God save the Queen!" ... As the Chancellor of Germany walks out of the obviously German Reichstag.
  • Zig-Zagged: Sometimes the translators translate references literally, sometimes they get replaced, sometimes they're skipped if they're not relevant to the story.
  • Averted: Authors in Need! does not translate any of the cultural references, either using footnotes or expecting the audience to look them up instead.
  • Enforced: The executives behind the British dub actively tell translators to do whatever will make the work easier to understand for the target audience.
  • Lampshaded: "... Hold on, if we're in Germany, why are we talking about 'local' authors like Margaret Atwood?"
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  • Invoked: The author behind Autoren im Not! asks the translators to not just translate the story word-for-word but make it more palatable for a British audience.
  • Exploited: The translators manage to sneak in some Woolseyisms this way, and proudly presents them when they apply for future translation work.
  • Defied: When the translator stumbles upon an untranslatable reference, they chuck the background for it into a footnote at the end of the work.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???

Back to Cultural Translation.

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