Translation Musings: Breaking Bad

Oct 16, 2014 | Translation

studying chemistrySo, there’s been this little series on TV called Breaking Bad, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it? In case you haven’t, it is all about this unassuming chemistry teacher who gets, you know, terminal cancer. He can’t afford the treatment and doesn’t want to keep on cleaning cars so he starts producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine instead. It could happen to anyone (unless you live in the UK, of course, what with us having the NHS and all).

The title and title sequence is all rather marvelously done using the letters out of the periodic table and the title itself, Breaking Bad, refers to when someone veers off the straight and narrow.

The show has been enjoyed across the world and some of the translations are, well, interesting. In Bulgaria, it is called V obuvkite na satanata – which translates as In the Shoes of Satan! In Czech, Perníkový táta translates as Meth Daddy and in Hungary, I am reliably informed, Totál szívás has a slang meaning of Total Suckage! As you may guess, however, the ‘suck’ bit also has drug connotations – sucking or sniffing. A Química do Mal, as it is titled in Brazil, means Evil Chemistry. Which just about sums it up!

Please let me know if you know any more and take a look at this lovely cartoon, from First Edition favourite Memrise, on TV show titles across the world.

photo credit: johnjazz @