Hollywood's 100 Favorite Movie Quotes: Funny Foreign Translations of 9 Iconic Lines

9:00 AM 3/14/2016

by Andy Lewis

It's "Sayonora, Baby" in the Spanish-language version of 'Terminator.'

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Translating movies is tricky. Take the line “Hasta la vista baby” from the Terminator 2: Judgment Day (No. 54 on THR’s list of Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Movie Quotes). To English-speaking audiences, the use of the Spanish phrase is funny, but translators realized Spanish-speaking audiences might not see the humor so they decided they needed something different. The solution? “Sayonara, baby.”

Offbeat translations abound in the lines Hollywood voted its 100 favorites. Here are eight other lines whose quirky translations will make many chuckle.

Read more The 'Gone With the Wind' Line That Was Almost Censored | Why Hollywood Moguls Love This Line From 'The Godfather' | Top Funny Lines | Top Love Lines | 10 Lines That Almost Made the List | 4 Lines That Were Ad-Libbed | 'Jaws' Writer Reveals Origins of Movie's Famous "Bigger Boat" Line | 'Clueless' Director Amy Heckerling Reveals Where "As If!" Came From  | Rare Look at Early 'Godfather' Drafts Reveal Famous Lines' Origins | Men and Women Disagree on No. 1

  • "Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn."

    Gone With the Wind, 1939 (No. 1)

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    Some translations sound not that far from the 22 alternatives that writers typed up when censors threatened “damn.” In German, it's: “To be honest, I'm completely indifferent.” The Russian version is just awkward: “Straightforwardly, my dear, I would not give you a damn.”

  • "Here's looking at you, kid."

    Casablanca, 1943 (No. 2)

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    The Japanese version of the line — "Kimi no hitomi ni kanpai'' — literally translates as, "Cheers to your eyes." Manako Ihaya of the American Translators Association calls it "a classic example of a good movie script translation" for its ability to capture the nuance of the English for the Japanese audience. The German version of the line translates back as” “I am looking into your eyes, little one.”

  • "May the force be with you."

    Star Wars, 1977 (No. 4)

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     With its religious undertones, the most famous line in Star Wars has some very culturally specific translations. In Navajo (yes, Star Wars was the first movie ever dubbed into the Native America language) the line is almost a literal translation of one of their prayers. In Russian, one literal translation would be, “May the Virgin power be with you.” In Hindi, it's, “May the divine power remain eternal.”

  • "Houston, we have a problem."

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    This story isn’t about that line, but we do have a problem. German translators misheard the word "peg" in one line in the movie, so it became: {"You have to learn to put a square pig in a round hole."

  • "Say hello to my little friend."

    Scarface, 1983 (No. 33)

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    In Russian, this line translates as the same — but Russians may laugh because "little friend" has a sexual connotation in their language. Read more.

  • "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."

    Cool Hand Luke, 1967 (No. 44)

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    What makes the line great is the way Strother Martin delivers it. Literal translations just don’t capture that nuance. In German: “What we have here is a communications problem.” The Russian version is pretty funny, though: “What we have here is a communication crash.”

  • "Go ahead, make my day."

    Sudden Impact, 1983 (No. 64)

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    In Kenya, the mispronunciation of "make my day" is "makmende," which is slang for someone who tries to be a hero and was the name creators chose for the country’s first locally created superhero, described by CNN as "one part Shaft, one part Superman."

  • "Wax on, wax off."

    The Karate Kid, 1984 (No. 76)

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     The very straightforward Spanish version of this line loses all the poetry of Mr. Miyagi’s delivery: “Apply wax, buff wax.”

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