Mistranslations or Reinterpretations? When Italianization Confuses

Disney songs are so popular that they have become the go-to options for parents who want to expose their youngsters to music. They carry a universal appeal. They even get translated in different languages. Generally, it’s difficult to find issues in them. They are written to be catchy while remaining child-friendly. However, Den of Geek’s James Clayton appears to have some beef over Disney songs getting translated into Italian.

Clayton speaks some Italian that his reaction to the “unfaithful” translations was quite more than ordinary. He wrote a lengthy post about his experience with Italianized Disney songs on Den of Geek.

Lion King’s Carousel of Alterations

Clayton exclaimed “E completamente diverso” (It’s completely different!) as he heard how different the Italianized lyrics of a number of Lion Kings songs were. For example, the line “It’s the circle of life” of the popular Elton John song was translated in Italian with the equivalent English meaning that goes “It’s a carousel that goes, this life.” Additionally, the wordplay in the line “I’m gonna be the mane event” from the song “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” was completely lost in translation. The Italian translation given for the said line is a rather uninspired “I’ll be the scoop of the century.”

Frozen’s Cold Cuts

Even the famous “Let it go, let it go” line from Frozen’s soundtrack failed to escape the slash of Italianization. The title, Let It Go, has been translated in Italian words that now mean “Dawn Will Rise” in English. Additionally, the Italian translation for the iconic first line of the chorus now means “I know, Yes I know” in English. The “o” sound at the end was kept at the expense of the line’s meaning.

Princess Jasmine Becomes Greedy

The beautiful duet Aladdin sings with Princess Jasmine has become a greed-tinged anthem with the lyrics’ Italianization. The song’s title, “A Whole New World,” has become “The World Is Mine” in the Italian version where Aladdin sings “the world is yours” and Princess Jasmine responds with “the world is mine.” In the English version, the couple were explorers on a flying carpet but they have suddenly become conquerors in the song’s Italian lyrics.

There’s no doubt that an experienced translator would have done a better job in coming up with lyric translations that could have maintained the thoughts of the songs’ lyrics or at least kept things closer to what the original tried to mean. However, it would be unnecessarily strict to not allow singers and arrangers to come up with their own interpretations or alterations on the songs’ lyrics, especially when it becomes too difficult to bring rhythm, melody, and beat together. Just consider this YouTube clip of a Filipinized version of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” The singer/composer/arranger tried his best to make sure that every line is translated to precisely correspond to every line of the song in English. The result: utter hilarity! Funny mistranslation!

Image credit – via Den of Geek

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