Monday, January 18, 2010

OVERTIME: Translation Fortress (part 2)

Note: This post continues where the previous one ended. If you haven't read Part 1, click here.

Heavy Weapons

Natascha is a minigun. Heavy affectionately dubs the standard minigun "Sascha". Natascha is the name he gives to his second minigun. Both are Russian female names (1, 2), and they weren't translated.

The Sandvich is a delicious and mouthwatering sandwich. The "v" in its name is a joke, meaning that it's pronounced with Russian accent. The joke needed to be translated into Spanish, and the translator did it very effectively. That is how El Focata was born. In next posts I'll talk about the emotional implications that the word Focata has to me. Some of you may already know, hehe.

Finishing with the Heavy weapons, there are the KGB. KGB is an acronym for Killing Gloves of Boxing, and they are a joke referring to the Soviet Security Agency. In Spanish they were translated as Los Kañeros Guantes de Boxeo, in order to keep the acronym joke. Personally, I'm not in complete agreement with using the word "kañero", since it seems to approve the use of incorrect spelling (see my posts about orthography).

Scout weapons

The Force-A-Nature is a double-barrelled hunting shotgun. Its name comes from a sentence which Scout says in the video "Meet the Scout" (which you can watch here). "I'm a Force of Nature", says the Scout. There is also much controversy with its translation. In the Spanish dubbed version of the video, Scout says "Soy el rey de las hostias", so the logical translation for the F-A-N should be "El Rey de las Hostias", or "La Reina de las Hostias" if you wanted it to be feminine. Inexplicably, the translator used another part of the video: "La hierba crece, los pájaros vuelan, el sol brilla, y yo... doy caña", and the F-A-N was translated as La Dispensadora de Caña. I just don't understand it.

Bonk! Atomic Punch. That is the complete name of the item players usually refer to as "Bonk", "Energy Drink" or "Useless Crap". It's not useless at all, but now I'm not talking about the weapons' usefulness. Bonk is a Drink that makes you invincible for a few seconds, with the drawback of not being able to shoot. Its name comes after the onomatopoeic sound Scout likes to say when he beats someone to death. It seems in Spanish "Bonk" is not a good onomatopoeia, because the translator decided to change it for ¡Plonk! La bebida salvavidas. Also, its utility is clearer in Spanish, which is... acceptable. Not great, but not bad either.

The Sandman is a wooden baseball bat. Its name is an interesting one. Sandman is a traditional character in Western folklore who sprinkles sand on the eyes of the children at night to bring on dreams and sleep (Wikipedia). In TF2, the special attack of the Sandman throws a baseball which stuns the enemies on hit. In Spanish folklore, the character of the Sandman doesn't exist (I'm not sure if there is an equivalent, I'll ask my grandma). The meaning of stun, daze, drowse still had to be in the Spanish version, so the Sandman was translated El Somnífero. It's not a very good equivalent, but it stills "makes you sleep".

Sniper weapons

The Sniper is an Australian character and his weapons are somehow related to Aborigines. The primary weapon, The Huntsman, is a wooden longbow. It was translated as El Cazador. An easy, unproblematic translation.

The Razorback is a hand-carved tribal shield with a car battery attached to it. It protects the user from backstabs. It receives its name from a villian in Spiderman comic series (see here and here). I have to admit that its translation is quite funny. Since the shield electrocutes Spies, it was named El Caparazumbador (Caparazón + Zumbar). Funny translation, as I said.

Jarate is the name of an ancient martial art consisting in throwing a glass jar full of urine (really!). Jarate has a lot of uses, but I'm not describing them now (if you still want to know, click on previous link). It also has a very funny translation: Fraskungfú (combination of Frasco + Kung-fu). Though Karate and Kung-fu have different meanings (1, 2), they seem to be interchangeable in this context, so it isn't a bad translation. In fact, it is a good example of hyponymy. The first time I read the word Fraskungfú I laughed for five minutes.

Spy weapons

The Ambassador is a huge, precise revolver. This weapon is a reference to the Dirty Harry movie series, but I'm not very keen on those, so I cannont give many details. The Spanish name is La Embajadora.

The Cloak and Dagger is an invisibility watch which allows the user to be invisible as long as he remains stationary. The name comes after the Spanish expression"novela de capa y espada", so I don't understand why the Hell the translator did such an awful job by naming it El Embozador. Embozar also means metaforically "hide or disguise with words" but it's so round-about... Anyway, I would have named it El Acechador, for example.

The Dead Ringer is another invisibility device. This one allows to feign your own death (I really enjoy using it, another day I'll explain it). A "dead ringer" is an expression which means "an exact duplicate" or "someone who is identical to another person". The TF2 Dead Ringer creates an exact duplicate of the user's corpse when attacked. In Spanish its name is El Duplicante. It's not a bad translation: it is a witty name and explains its function.

Engineer weapons

Hehe, there are no unlockable weapons for the Engineer yet. Players are waiting for an update within the next months. Since then, we just have three basic weapons... and the buildings. The Engineer can build a Sentry Gun (translated as Arma Centinela), a Dispenser (Dispensador) and a Teleporter (Teleportador). Those names have no puns, jokes or references, so their translations are correct.

So, this is the end of my weapon names' analysis. Nevertheless, TF2 translation is quite an interesting topic, and this was only the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned, my friends. Mission ends in five... four... three... two... one...

¡Tiempo extra!


  1. It should have been "el rey de las hostias", damn it!

  2. Very interesting as always Tido... . I hope you don't have the same problem I have with the translations (I 'tell you soon)

    PD: "La dispensadora de caña" sounds like a machine for preparings beers. xD


  3. @ Chris-kun:
    Lol, a beer dispenser. Now I understand why the Scout always ask for a dispenser.

    If you are talking about the problem of having the word "The" before the names of the weapons, it is a general issue, everyone is having the same problem. Valve Support says that it will be fixed in a future update. Don't worry.