Funny or scary?
This is about Polish translations of foreign language titles

Be honest – how often do you criticise Polish translations of foreign productions? Pretty often, right? Does it sound strange? Doesn’t it make sense with the original version? How did anyone think of something like this? Why didn’t they translate it literally? So many questions, so few answers. So let’s try to explore this mysterious topic a bit.

Certainly, each of you at least once in your life have encountered a ‘strange’ sounding Polish translation of the title of a movie or series. By looking at its original form, it would seem that they did not make any effort to translate it, and it could even be said that they lack panache or competence. However, have you ever wondered if it is the fault of the translators? Well, it turns out, not entirely. When it comes to translating foreign productions, in most cases the translators are only commissioned to translate the dialogue, while the translation of the title is the responsibility of the distributors. Therefore, they are usually translated to make them catchy, memorable and reveal the secret about the plot.

There are a lot of translational ‘gems’, so it was difficult to decide which ones to pay the most attention to. Nonetheless, it is it’s probably best to focus on one of the classics. Do you know of Die Hard? Not really? What about Szklana Pułapka? Surely. Okay, let’s make an appointment – as a translation of the title of the first part of the movie, it fits the bill perfectly. However, there is one ‘but’ – the translator of the title probably did not expect that the movie would be so successful and that its next parts would appear. In this way, we have gained Szklana Pułapka 2, 3, 4, 5, (6 on the way) in Poland, whose original titles are respectively: Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard, A Good Day are Die Hard and McClane.

In the context of slightly lesser known, although ‘interesting’ translations of the titles, it is certainly worth mentioning Now you see me translated as Iluzja, Home Again with the translation Wszyscy moi mężczyźni or Hot Tub Time Machine with the enigmatic Jutro będzie futro.

How about some horror movie? Maybe Phantasm? Sounds too scary? Are you afraid of horror movies? Keep calm. Apparently the distributors of this film wanted to ‘soften it’ – with the title Mordercze kuleczki it immediately sounds better.

(Translation ML)

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