Chinese Style Snakes on a Plane

27 Aug 2006

I watched the much “celebrated” Snakes on a Plane with John B and our wives last night. I picked up the DVD on the way over to his place. The DVD guy outside of the 好得 (AKA “All Days”) convenience store had it. Here’s what the cover looks like:

snakesonaplane-front

A very evil-looking Jackson on the pirated Snakes on a Plane DVD

Thanks to Matt at No-Sword I knew what to expect in terms of the movie’s Chinese title, but I certainly didn’t expect the French title, or this camcorder edition’s laughtrack (yes, a French laughtrack). Really, though, when you’re expecting ridiculous, I guess it only adds to the experience.

The main and secondary titles on this cover confirm two of the mainland Chinese titles that Matt dug up:

空中蛇灾 — “Midair snake disaster”
航班蛇患 — “Snake woes on a flight”

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. 空中蛇灾 — “Midair snake disaster”
    航班蛇患 — “Snake woes on a flight”

    TYPICAL CHINGLISH

  2. I don’t think that’s Chinglish. I think it’s just john translating — literally — the chinese titles for our benefit.

  3. Yes, Kelly is right. Actually, they’re not even my translations; I took them from the No-Sword article I linked to.

  4. Da Xiangchang Says: August 27, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Hmmm, need to check this one out . . . when it comes out on DVD. I wonder how the Chinese translated Samuel L. Jackson’s line “I’m tired of these motherf**king snakes on this motherf**king plane”? Haha. Best movie I saw this summer at the theaters: Miami Vice. Yes, it was panned by a lot of critics–though a lot of big-name critics loved it too–but it totally mesmerized me. Gong Li as a hip modern chick who speaks (bad) Spanish–what else can you ask for?

  5. DXC,

    That’s an interesting question, and I actually tried to check for you. But the quality of the DVD is so bad that my DVD-ROM doesn’t seem to read it, and any time I tried to open it with either Windows Media Player, PowerDVD, or VirtualDub, it crashed the program.

    When we were watching the DVD, it skipped occasionally throughout the entire movie, which was extremely annoying. For any other movie I would have waited for a better quality DVD to hit the streets.

    I think I’m just going to throw this DVD away. It cost 5 RMB.

  6. Once again, empirical observation drives Science on. Hurrah!

    Yeah, those titles are intentionally awkwardly translated, since I wanted to show as clearly as possible the different approaches people are taking to rendering the title in non-IE languages round these parts.

  7. Matt,

    I must still be more of a computer geek than a linguist, because when I first saw “non-IE” the first thing I thought was “Firefox?” rather than “non-Indo-European.” 🙂

  8. Uhm, the cover is from the european poster, I think! The german poster looks the same way, I am 100% sure of that, with that evil-face Sam.

  9. John,

    I was going to ask you about if you have stayed after the movie for the music video, then I realized you were watching a bootlegged DVD.

    I have posted the music video here:

    http://www.tian.cc/2006/08/snakes-on-plane.html

    the same opening weekend, there were snakes found in a local theater. It was not part of he marketing plan:

    http://www.tian.cc/2006/08/snakes-in-theater.html

  10. scrappenthal Says: August 30, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    The title in Taiwan was 飞机上有蛇. I like how they went for the deadpan title as with the English.

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