The unfortunate Chinese translation of a Icelandic horror film title has become a lewd meme

The Chinese translation of “Lamb,” an Icelandic horror film (center), sounds identical to “penis,” so naturally it’s inspired a slew of lewd puns. Photos: LIHKG
The Chinese translation of “Lamb,” an Icelandic horror film (center), sounds identical to “penis,” so naturally it’s inspired a slew of lewd puns. Photos: LIHKG

An Icelandic horror film proved to be a hit at the Cannes Film Festival this summer, but it’s become a talking point in Hong Kong for an entirely different reason: Its name, translated into Chinese, sounds like penis.

“Lamb,” a supernatural drama about a couple who discovers a mysterious newborn on their rural sheep farm, is translated as “羊懼.” Pronounced as yeung geoi, the characters literally mean “lamb” and “fear.” The title is also identical—both phonetically and tonally—to male genitalia.

Online, many joked about the awkwardness of walking up to a cinema booth and purchasing tickets for the movie.

“I want yeung geoi at 8 o’clock, thank you,” a Taiwanese Twitter user joked.

Another person wrote, “If this film were available on Netflix, you could logically invite somebody over to your house to see yeung geoi.”

“Lamb” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in July and will be released in US theaters in October. It’s unclear whether it will be screened in Hong Kong cinemas.

Read more: ‘Touch yourself’: Dancing seniors clip gets full points for quirk, loses marks on English translation

Naturally, the unfortunate title translation has lent itself to a flood of lewd, pun-heavy memes in the form of movie posters mimicking the original.

One pictures a woman hugging a rhino, its Chinese name directly translating as “taking care of a rhino” but also sounding like a Cantonese swear word meaning foul-smelling vagina.

 

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A post shared by 緬甸晶宮 (@meendeenjinggung)

Another poster, illustrated with a woman holding up a carp, reads “fishing for a carp” in Chinese. Phonetically, it sounds similar to “f*** you” in Cantonese.

It’s far from the first time English-to-Chinese translations in Hong Kong have gone awry. In 2016, an advertisement for Apple’s iPhone 7 featured the tagline “iPhone is 7.” The number seven is slang for penis in Cantonese.

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