I have a bit of an odd question for you today. Have you ever been curious as to the foreign language interpretation of character names?
I grant you, it is probably not something to keep one up at night but it is intriguing none the less.
It originally struck me when I first went to Disneyland Paris and quite a few of the characters signed autographs of their French names. Many did make sense to me as they were literal English to French translations i.e.
– Robin Hood = Robin des Bois
– Captain Hook = Capitaine Crochet
– Snow White = Blanche Neige
– Aurora = Aurore
but others didn’t and still don’t, i.e
– Mr Smee – Monsieur Mouche
– Chip and Dale – Tic et Tac
To be fair, having not been to Disneyland Paris for a while, and watched any films in French since I graduated three years ago, I hadn’t thought about it much until a few hours ago when I was watching Beauty and the Beast through DisneyLife. For some reason or another I decided to watch it in French and four character names jumped out at me:
Cogsworth = Big Ben
Philippe – Philbert
Chip – Zip
Mrs Potts = Madame Samovar
I chuckled at Big Ben, because for a story so typically French, Cogsworth is named after one of the most iconic British landmarks. Although I can’t remember if he is meant to be a British character or not, so the name change might actually make more sense than I originally thought.
Philbert comes across as illogical because Philippe is already a French name, so why change it?
Zip baffles me. When I went to translate it, the only English definitions I could find were an actual zip, or a computer file. In looking up chip, I came across words like copeau, éclat, ébréchure (chips in wood, glass, cups), nothing to suggest that it was a literal translation. I also don’t know of a context to Beauty and the Beast so that theory is out as well. Maybe this one is meant to be left a mystery.
And then Samovar. This threw me until I remembered that a samovar is a type of tea urn. It might not have any French connections but it is easier to say and logically it makes sense.
The rest are the same. I find it intriguing that some are the same and others have been changed. I’m probably over-thinking this but it is obviously something that my language brain has picked up on. Curse you languages!
Are there any interesting translations/interpretations of names that you have come across?
As always, thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!