Woolseyism/Other Media

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.


  • When Coca-Cola first came to the Chinese market in 1928, there was no official representation of the name in Mandarin, so several shopkeepers interpreted it in different ways. While the right sounds (ko-ka-ko-la) were used, the wrong characters were used, giving us interpretations as "Bite the Wax Tadpole" or "Bite the Wax-Fattened Mare". Eventually, an official translation of Coca-Cola was used, sounding fairly close to its name (ke kou ke le) with the added bonus of loosely meaning "Let your mouth rejoice". [1] [dead link]


  • The Jonathan Coulton song "Re: Your Brains" has a French version ("Re: Vos Cerveaux") which replaces the line "All we want to do is eat your brains! We're not unreasonable; I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes!"" with "On veut juste vous bouffer le cerveau! Non, ce n'est pas si bête; ca va pas t'couter les yeux de la tête!" This translates roughly as "We just want to eat your brains! It's not so bad; it won't cost you the eyes from your head!" However, in French, "couter les yeux de la tête" is an idiomatic expression for something expensive, similar to saying something "costs an arm and a leg."

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Isaac Watts' psalm "translations" for use in the Anglican church. Until the mid-1800s, the Anglican church didn't allow singing of hymns, but metrical translations of the Book of Psalms and other scriptural references were considered sacred enough for use. To hear Watts tell the tale, King David made direct references both to his own far-distant descendant Jesus Christ (by name, no less), and to the British empire - an international power ruling large amounts of land mass which were completely unknown to the Hebrews in David's time, seated in a nation that had yet to be created. Some of Watts' translations are still in use - "Joy to the World" chief among them!
  • When all of the Latin prayers and other parts of the Catholic mass were translated into various native languages after Vatican II, it was decided that more user friendly translations would be used instead of direct translations.
    • However, in 2011, extremely conservative Pope Benedict XVI, having thought the changes made in Vatican II were too radical declared that certain things (such as the Nicene Creed) be re-translated to be more faithful to the original, leading to a great deal of confusion as to what the word "consubstantial" meant and, in some cases, how to say it.
  • In some Fairy tales that feature a Wicked Witch that isn't always named, especially "Hansel and Gretel", sometimes the witch is Baba Yaga - as in, the Baba Yaga from Slavic mythologies; seeing as she is pretty much the slavic Wicked Witch.


  • The G.I. Joe franchise was renamed Action Force for the European market, because the phrase "G.I. Joe" wouldn't have meant anything to the non-American audience.

Web Original

  • Neopets does it with their own site sometimes, since some of the jokes, even when adapted, are still horrible as the original ones. But then, since Viacom expelled Adam and Donna from the team, it was just bound to happen.
  • As TV Tropes goes from language to language, tropes occasionally get names that are neither direct translations nor bland descriptions, such as the French versions of All Of The Other Reindeer or Bad Ass.

Real Life

  • The name of Tel Aviv, Israel is a Woolseyism: the intent was to name the city after Theodore Herzl's book Altneuland (An Old-new Land), but this didn't translate well into Hebrew. Thus, to get the idea across, a combination of Tel, refering to an ancient archeological site and Aviv, spring (the season), which symbolizes renewal.
    • In fact, the name "Tel Aviv" came well before the city - it was the original name given to the book by its Hebrew translator.

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