Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Rose is not always a rose in another language

Children throughout the world like stories and, at least in the Western world, read and see many of the same stories and cartoons.  It does not necessarily follow that that they will recognize the names of these characters, however.  Traditionally, names have experienced what translators call “localization,” meaning adjustment to the local language.  In other words, the stories are the same, but the names have been changed (to protect the innocent?).
In the world of fairy tales, many heroes are unrecognizable to other culture.  The German Hanzel and Gretel has become Ami and Tami in Hebrew.  The English Cinderella is  לכלוכית [lichluchit] in Israel, the dirty one, and золушка [zolushka]  in Russian.  Snow White is freely localized: Blanche-Neige in French,  שלגיה [Shelgia] (the snow one) in Hebrew, and белоснежный  [belosnojni] in Russian.
Popular culture also is translated.  The American comedians Laurel and Hardy were called on Israeli television השמן והרזה [hashemen veharazeh], meaning the fat one and thin one.  In the wonderful duo of Pinky and the Brain (my favorite “modern” cartoon), the French Pinky is called “Zero”, presumably due to his intelligence or lack thereof.  I question how many Americans would recognize les Pierrafeu, otherwise known as Fred and Barney.
To quote the latter, have a yabba yabba good time day.

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