Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Frozen in Arabic





C is a little too young to be as crazy about Frozen as three-to- thirty-year-old across the world seem to be. She has seen it - or, parts of it - between running around the house and talking to herself she has stopped and watched the musical numbers, even danced a little, before continuing to another room to pull things off shelves and climb on chairs.

I enjoyed this article from the New Yorker: Translating Frozen into Arabic by Elias Muhanna. Frozen was translated into 41 different languages. By comparison, The Lion King was only translated into 15 at the time it was released. Some languages even get several versions - there is a Brazilian Frozen as well as a Continental Portuguese version. There is a Latin American version with a Mexican accent as well as a Castellano version. Usually, Muhanna explains, the Egyptian accent is chosen for the Arabic version of Disney movies. Inexplicably, Frozen has been translated into Modern Standard Arabic, aka Classical Arabic and people are upset. She makes a good point, that if Canadian French gets its own version of Frozen, why is there only one Arabic version for children from Morocco to Saudi Arabia? 

I also liked how Muhanna explained dubbing as translation in four dimensions. Not only does one have to consider the translation of the words, but also the cultural jokes, the music, matching the words to the characters' mouths in the time alotted by the animation. What a task!