A stroll into madness (German translation is "best" translation...)


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For those who don’t know: I’m from Germany and do translation work for several things (mainly websites and university papers, but have also worked on some Flash games before). So, given how there were some funny Russian translation problems in GoW mentioned lately, I decided to take a look at the German tanslation of it, just for fun.

I spent five minutes in madness. Just five minutes, skimming through some troops. I am… speechless. And I want to show everyone some of the funniest and most horrible things.

Let’s start with some of the funny fellows inhabiting the weird world I found:
priest
This is the (lit.) “Devoted Priest”. The German world is safe, there’s no evil priests sacrificing people here! Just this kind, helpful, devoted priest! Totally devoted to y– wait, wasn’t that a different troop?
devoted
This is (somewhat lit.) “The Devo”. Because half a name is enough! (The correct version would have been “DIe Ergebene”.)

But surely, there is just some logic behind it all that English-speaking people cannot understand, right? Well, actually, the German world is not as hard to understand for you as you might think! Have a look at this:
troops
You see all these German guys here - Drachenzermalmer, Drakonischer Mönch, Drachentaur. But then there’s this bilingual guy - Drake-Reiter - and then these English guys who obviously have missed the wake-up call of translating their names. Dragonian Rogue and Drake, shame on you!
(For those interested in languages: Their names should be ‘Drakonischer Schurke’ and ‘Drache’ respectively.)

But maybe, just maybe, these English guys just live in Blackhawk. Because, you know, it’s the only English place on the worldmap:
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No, really, all other kingdoms which do have names with meaning are translated. Just not Blackhawk, which actually sounds kinda cool when translated (lit. “Schwarzfalke”)… unlike some of the other kingdom names, lol.

Oh, but these non-German troops from Blackhawk also speak some weird mixture of English and German!
marid
German doesn’t use apostrophes… and this is not the only place I found one despite that very simple fact.

So, we have extra punctuation so far! But everything in the world needs balance, so let’s return to the poor Devo(ted) who is missing part of her German name. I can tell you, she’s not alone. Because if there is anything that’s missing in the translation, it’s punctuation:
punctuation
One thing you will constantly see in the flavor texts is the fact that some have a period at the end and others don’t. But that is not all! See that left text? It’s from the Alchemist. You likely don’t see anything immediately wrong with it since we Germans like our nouns big and capitalized (because size matters, yo!), but… after that nice word “Vermischung”, the sentence ends. The word “nur” is not a noun, it’s capitalized because a new sentence starts there. But who needs periods between sentences Let’s just put words next to each other No one will notice We will just have capital letters ever so often No really this is easy to read right And so fun to type This cannot be any worse right

Oh, it can be worse.

Now, this might not be funny, but it’s basically the pinnacle of bad translation. Lemme show you and explain:
anubis
We actually have correct puctuation here, but… the German language has two words for “you” because we like to be annoying like that. The first is “du”. It’s the informal version, used for friends and family and when adressing players in videogames. Then there’s the polite “Sie”, which you use for your boss, teacher, strangers and other dudes you feel you need to be polite to even if they don’t deserve it. You’re likely getting what I’m saying: While correctly using “du” in other places in the game, here “Sie” is used, which is horribly wrong in itself, but… it’s not even capitalized. The polite “Sie” should always be capitalized because we Germans want those people we need to be polite to to feel like special snowflakes so that we get what we want from them.
So yes, double-fail.

Which brings us to what’s likely the worst part: The attempted translations of the flavor text jokes.
I’m not gonna lie - some are good. I only checked a few troops, but the Dark Maiden and Alastair are seriously super-well done and funny because the translators added some German jokes there.

But most others? Not so much. Here’s some examples (without screenshots because this post is long enough):

Ship cannon (“I’d ship it”) = The German word for “shipping” (“verschicken”) doesn’t have any similiarity with the German word for “ship” (“Schiff”). A translation to English of the German text would equal “I’d send it somewhere”. And every German person is confused (why would they send it somewhere?!). A fix for that would actually have been easy, too (sparing you the details here, though).

Anubite Warrior (“He’s been around for centuries, so stop calling him a-NOOB-ite.”) = That’s actually the screenshot with the misused “Sie” above! The word “ANFÄNGER” in there is what “NOOB” most closely translates to. Obviously, “Anfänger” is not similiar to “Anubite” at all (and also translates to “beginner” in 99% of the time). And every German person is confused again about that weird capslock.

Drake-Rider (“No, he’s NOT riding a male duck.”) = You’ve seen above that the dude is semi-German-called “Drake-Reiter” in Germany. Too bad that even like that, the joke doesn’t work - the German word for male duck is “Erpel”. By now the German people are so confused that I’m gonna give up, except…

Emperor Khorvash (“You should see his new clothes”) = The well-known fairytale this obviously references is called “Des Kaisers neue Kleider” in Germany. “Kleider” is “clothes”. Do you think that’s the word used? Noooope. Instead, the word used is “Klamotten”, which doesn’t just ruin everything, but… “Klamotten” is also very colloquial. I think the English equivalent would be “duds” (but no guarantee there).
So basically, even the name of a well-known fairytale is too difficult to look up.

And that was me five minutes looking at this. I’m sure there’s a million more funny names on troops and I didn’t even look at the weapons! If you want me to check more and find funny pictures I will! I suspect some of the weapons for the hero might be weird as hell.
I know the flavor texts I posted above were a lot of explanation and likely boring, but I wanted to give an overview of the mess I found.

More serious conclusion: If my translation work would have ever been that bad or inconsistent, I would have been fired from basically every project I ever worked on. I am far from perfect in English, but I know basic grammar, basic punctuation and how to use a damn dictionary.
Please, dear devs, fix this, hire good translators or just ask some of the German people of the community to help out! I’m sure many would love to help you for free. :slight_smile: