We have a grapadora problem in the office. There is a limited supply and they always seem to disappear or jam. People with staplers get a little possessive over them – or maybe its just me and my only child syndrome. One day, I tried making a Milton grapadora roja joke at work, but it fell completely flat and my coworker just politely smiled looking dazed and confused. I am sure he was thinking – what is this guiri talking about? Being funny in a foreign language is harder than it seems! Then he made some comment I didn’t quite understand and asked if I’d seen Trabajo Basura. I said no because the tittle didn’t ring a bell. He proceeded to tell me the plot of the movie, a pet peeve of mine in English let alone Spanish, so my eyes were just starting to glaze over when I heard the name Jennifer Aniston (pronounced with a Spanish accent of course). “Wait Jennifer Aniston is in uhhh..uhm.. Espacio de Oficina!” I exclaimed. Turns out, he too had tried to make a Milton red stapler joke and I had responded with the same polite smile and dazed and confused look. These lost in translation moments are just a fact of life for an expat, but are further confounded when you don’t know the local name for pop culture topics such as movies. Not everything is translated into Spanish. The Artist is called just that – The Artist – and not El Artista. Some are straightforward translations – Black Swan is Cisne Negro literally meaning black swan. Then there are the weird translations like Trabajo Basura – meaning garbage work – which throw you for a loop. I am fascinated by these translations so I started to make a running list of all the oddball ones I’ve come across. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Office Space – Trabajo Basura – Garbage Work
2. The Sound of Music – Sonrisas y Lágrimas – Smiles and Tears
3. Inception – Origen – Origin (Incidently I still call it Origin in English by mistake sometimes).
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Los Hombres Que no Amaban a las Mujeres – The men who did not love women (note: In this case the Spanish translation is closer to the original Swedish tittle Män som hatar kvinnor – Men who hate women)
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – ¡Olvídate de mí! – Forget about me!
6. The Departed – Infiltrados – The Infiltrated
7. Shallow Hal – Amor Ciego – Blind Love
8. Kermit the Frog – La rana gustavo – Gustavo the Frog
9. Miss Piggy – Peggy la Cerdita – Peggy the little pig
10. Smurfs – Pitufos – Like in English this is a made up word in Spanish too
All images were obtained from google images.