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Bad Movie Titles Seldom Come Alone

Bad Movie Titles Seldom Come Alone

What did you think of the film adaptation of John-le-Carré’s “Queen, King, Ace, Spy” (“König, Dame, Ass, Spion”)? Never heard of it? Chances are you have! It’s the back translation of the German title of the 2011 movie „Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy“ with Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. It’s also a nice example of the pitfalls of movie title localization. Granted, the nursery rhyme “Tinker, Tailor” is not commonly known in Germany and the deck of cards pun works quite well for a spy story. Were it not for the 1998 movie “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” that came to German movie theatres as “Jack, Queen, King, Weed” (“Bube, Dame, König, Gras“). Or 1972′s “King, Queen, Jack” (“König, Dame, Bube”), the German title for the Nabokov book and movie “King, Queen, Knave”. You would think that there are more than one puns and word plays in the German language.

In 1983 the Steve Martin movie “The Lonely Guy” was distributed in Germany as “A Single Seldom Comes Alone” (“Ein Single kommt selten allein”) – a rather senseless movie title adaptation that immediately became the magic weapon for all untranslatable movie titles. There was “A Twin Seldom Comes Alone” (“Ein Zwilling kommt selten allein“, original title: “The Parent Trap“), “Martians – An Alien Seldom Comes Alone” (“Martians – Ein Außerirdischer kommt selten allein“, original title: “Spaced Invaders”), “A Duke Seldom Comes Alone” (“Ein Duke kommt selten allein“, original title: “The Dukes of Hazzard“), “A Brat Seldom Comes Alone” (“Eine Zicke kommt selten allein“, original title: “Uptown Girls”), “A Ghost Seldom Comes Alone” (“Ein Geist kommt selten allein“, original title: “Believe”). In 2004 the meme rose from the dead once more as “A Zombie Seldom Comes Alone” (“Ein Zombie kommt selten allein“, original title: “Shaun of the Dead“). Other unfortunate German movie title translations are the infamous “My Partner with the Cold Snout” (“Mein Partner mit der kalten Schnauze“, original title: “K9“), “I Think an Elk is Kissing Me” (“Ich glaub mich knutscht ein Elch“, original title: “Stripes”) or my all time favourite “Red Eagle” (“Black Eagle“).

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Fun Facts about French

  • French is spoken on all continents, in more than 50 countries and by about 200 million people. There are 115 million native speakers.
  • It is also the second-most studied foreign language in the world.
  • In French, only foreign words contain the letter “W”.
  • Kinshasa (DR Congo) is the second largest French speaking city after Paris.
  • French is a distortion of the Latin language of the Roman Empire.
  • From the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century French was the most important language of diplomacy and international relations.
  • The Académie française is France’s official authority on usage, vocabulary and grammar. It is known for its strict regulations on anglicisms entering the language.
  • The French comic book series Astérix is translated from French into over 100 languages.
  • At the time of the French Revolution 75% of French citizens did not speak French as their mother tongue.
  • In Canada, 300,000 children are enrolled in French immersion programs, and 3 million adults whose mother tongue is not French speak French as a second language.
  • In the United States, French is the number four native language and the second most taught second language after Spanish.
  • One of the longest sentences in literature comes from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”: 823 words without a period.
  • Following the victory of the Normans over the English in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, French was the official language of England for about 300 years until 1362.
  • For this reason, about 30 to 50% of the basic English words are of French origin.