The Thing about the Titles

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When it comes to films here at Otherwhere the original title in the original script first is given first, followed by a Roman transcription and the official English title (or a literal translation if no official title exists), with any following references using the Romanised form. Like this:

「愛と誠」(Ai to Makoto/For Love’s Sake)

For most people this is something they need to get used to as the majority of film websites don’t list original titles, or, if they do, just about never using non-Roman characters. Film festivals, whether big or small, whether with a general or region-specific theme, equally opt for English-only titles most of the time, as do the vast majority of blogs, newspaper reviews, DVD cases – you name it.

I prefer to go my own way with titles, indeed, this blog takes great pride in always providing the original titles, something that can require quite a bit of effort and plenty of clever googling. Why? Well, I believe original titles are a lovely thing. And that languages are wonderful and shouldn’t be hidden away, but visible.

Because they are beautiful and fascinating.
Because there are more than a handful of languages out there and more than just Roman letters.
Because I know there will be some readers who will want to find a title in its original form – because they are natives speakers, or because they are learning the language and appreciate a moment to practice their kana and kanji, or perhaps because they are looking for the work in France, Chile or even Vanuatu! where the English title might not help them much. (You see, titles are often radically altered in translation – just look here and here).
Because even if you are a hardcore monolingual or think you don’t want to expand your linguistic repertoire beyond high school French, I think you should. Or at least you should be able to distinguish if something is written in Thai (ภาษาไทย) or Arabic (العربية/عربي/عربى). And you should be able to learn a word or two from another language. Because it’s perfectly possible.
And because who says that only the English title should be given or foreign titles only come second? Yes, these may be fairly standard conventions at this moment in time, but conventions are meant to be questioned and broken. I don’t see why the original title can’t come first. The only reason why it you might find it irritating is probably because you are not used to it (but if you stick around on Otherwhere, you probably soon will be).

That’s also why names are in surname-given name order for Japanese/Korean/Chinese films and quotes are inserted in their original languages with translation added in brackets whenever available.

Just in case you ever wondered…

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