外語電影名的中文譯名 – crazy movie titles

Everyone who knows Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese or any other dialect) knows that learning or reading it liter21007315617126_75_mally will lead to ridiculous situations, for example my husband asked me about a cartoon “Smart and stupid uncle“. I could only do a ‘huh-face’ and ask him about the details. “You know, the one in the old times when a guy moved his legs to drive his car?’. Yup, That’s “The Flinstones“. It’s not the only example of how creative Chinese translators can be, check some of them!

American Beauty
Hong Kong: 美麗有罪 – “Beauty is a crime”
Taiwan: 美國心玫瑰情 – “Heart of America (American Heart) Love of rose”
China: 美國麗人 – “American pretty human” – quite close to the original title.

Being John Malkovich
Taiwan: 傀儡人生 – “Puppet’s life”

The Cider House Rules
Hong Kong: 總有驕陽 – “Always have sunshine”
Taiwan: 心塵往事 – “The past hidden in a heart”

The Green Mile
Hong Kong & Taiwan: 綠里奇跡 – “Green miracle path”

The Insider
Hong Kong: 奪命煙幕 – “Lethal lie”
Taiwan: 驚暴內幕 – “Scary secret”

Hong Kong: 人生交叉剔 – literally “Life cross’ and checks” less literally “Crossroads of life”. Cross and check can also mean right and wrong so just pick the title yourself 🙂
Taiwan: 心靈角落 – “Corner in a heart”

The Sixth Sense
Hong Kong: 鬼眼 – “Ghost eye”
Taiwan: 靈異第六感 – “Spiritual sixth sense” like “Sixth sense” by itself wasn’t good enough.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (personally my favourite one)
Taiwan: 王牌大間諜二部曲:時空賤諜007 – “Ace Big Spy Second Chapter: Time Traveling Cheap Spy 007”. Imagine saying that title going to the cinema with your date.14362

Boys Don’t Cry
Hong Kong: 沒哭聲的抉擇 – “A choice without crying”
Taiwan: 男孩別哭 – “Little boys don’t cry”

The End of the Affair
Hong Kong: 激情妒火線 –  this title has a sound joke in it which 90% of us cannot get – first two words mean “Passionate”, third one means ‘Jealousy’ but it also has a sound that combines with two last words and means ‘fuse’ that will make bomb explode. Still not funny.
Taiwan: 愛情的盡頭  – “The end of a relationship”

Girl, Interrupted
Hong Kong: 我有(mou)問題 –  “I have/don’t have problem”
Taiwan: 女生向前走 – “Girls go forward” or “Go, girls!”

The Hurricane
Hong Kong: 黑罪風云 – “Black crime wind and cloud” Wind and cloud also together mean ‘storm’.
Taiwan: 捍衛正義 – “Preserved justice”.

Hong Kong: 二十二世紀殺人網絡 – “22th century murder network”
Taiwan: 駭客任務 – “A hacking mission”
China: 黑客帝國 – “A hacking empire”

The Mummy
Hong Kong 盜墓迷城 – “Stealing grave lost city”
Taiwan: 神鬼傳奇 – “God and ghost legend”

Music of the Heart
Hong Kong: 弦動我心 – “Touching my heart”
Taiwan: 心靈真愛 – “Spiritual true love”

Sleepy Hollow945422
Hong Kong: 無頭谷 – “No head valley”
Taiwan: 斷頭谷 – “Chop head valley”

Snow Falling on Cedars
Taiwan: 愛在冰雪紛飛時 – “Love happens when the snow is falling down”

The Straight Story
Taiwan:史崔特先生的故事 – “Mr. Straight’s story”

Star War Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Hong Kong: 星戰前傳之魅影危機 – “Star War Pre-Story: The Phantom Crisis”
Taiwan:星球大戰首部曲 – “Star War First Chapter”

Stuart Little
Taiwan: 一家之鼠小史都華 – “Mouse of the family. Stuart”

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Hong Kong: 衰仔樂園 – “Bad boy playground”

Die hard
Hong Kong: 虎膽龍威 – “Tiger’s gall dragon’s pride”
Taiwan: 終極警探- “The ultimate detective”

Just to be fair: my country is not better. I mean nothing can beat Tawainese title for Austin Powers but we’re quite close with our ‘Dirty Dancing – Spinning sex’, ‘Crash – City of anger’, ‘All around the town – Dream about knife’ and my two gold medals go to ‘Terminator – Electronic killer’ and ‘Die hard – Glass trap’.

There are many more examples and sooner or later I will post more. Would you translate it in the other way? Which one is your favourite of all the time? What are the funny titles of foreign movies in your country? Share your experience! 🙂


15 thoughts on “外語電影名的中文譯名 – crazy movie titles

  1. Ha, those translations can be quite funny. I usually ask my husband about the plot if he tells me one of those Chinese titles, the Chinese titles really are quite different.

    But it’s the same with English and German, German movie names can be quite different. It took me a long time and various people telling me about this great Austrian movie called “The sound of music” (which is simply called Die Trapp-Familie – “The Trapp family” in German) to finally google the English title and find out what it would be in German. We saw that movie when we were little, and quite a few times, so it is actually popular in Austria too.


  2. Those are some really funny movie titles!!! I really like the Taiwanese name for Sleepy Hollow (Chop Head Valley)! It quite accurately describes the movie! I also have a question for you. I am writing a blog post about Moon Festival and I was wondering if I could link to your post about mooncake? It was a great informational post!



  3. These re so funny! I am laughing out loud. On our recent trip to China, we took pictures of a few signs in English that were oddly phrased (though we knew what they meant). But there were a lot of t-shirts printed in English that didn’t make sense. We wished we had gotten pictures of them or found out where we could have bought some. It would have made a unique souvenir.

    I laugh, but I mean no disrespect. I think it must be very hard to translate between to very different languages and cultures. I’m impressed by anyone who tries!


  4. Haha ! Some of the translations are really funny . Being Chinese myself , even when I look at the Chinese translations of some English titles , I too some times can’t even guess what the original title was to be .
    Also thanks for liking my review post ! (:


    1. in Taiwan and China it’s ‘雨人’ which means is made from rain and man/human/person sign 🙂 so the title there is the same, for HK it’s ‘手足情未了’ – ‘hand foot unfullfield love’, it doesn’t make sense for me but two first signs together make ‘brother’ so I guess we can say it’s ‘brother’s unfulfieled love’ but I have to ask my husband when he’s back from work, I’m just studying Cantonese, not a native speaker 🙂


  5. Love your blog! And this post. It’s really frustrating when you’re learning the language too: how many times have I found myself with Chinese friends desperately trying to find a film we both saw – ‘mmm, do you know what the Western name would be??’


  6. Should check out the translation for
    Day After Tomorrow
    Granted both China and Taiwan translations both mean Day After Tomorrow, but China needs to learn about marketing. hahaha


  7. For most of these cases, I think I prefer your translations of the Chinese translations to the original English version. Chop Head Valley, for example, seems much more watchable than Sleepy Hollow. And Ace Big Spy Second Chapter: Time Traveling Cheap Spy 007 is exactly what the title says it is.


  8. I think some of your Chinese titles translation back to English, especally those from Hong Kong and Taiwan are more like of being made by google translation word by word (or character by character), and that’s why they looks funny now. Some years ago one Shanghai supermarket named their throw-away items both Chinese and English as “一次性用品 A Time Sex Thing”. Another example is people in China named 不干胶 for label stickers, and one printer has the label printed with English as well “No Fuck Gum“ IIRC. These 2 are typical examples of translation word by word instead of the whole phrase meaning (pluse simplfied Chinese for the later example because now in China “干 = 干, 亁, 幹”). I beleive I still have the photos saved somewhere in my PC, just let me know if you are interested to see them.


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