Cantonese slang lost in Shang-Chi translation

Local | 5 Sep 2021 6:52 pm

Groundbreaking Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings features the first Asian superhero on the big screen. With lines spoken in both English and Chinese, some cultural references are bound to be lost in translation.

The movie stars Canadian Simu Liu as lead Shang-Chi, as well as Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai as villain Xu Wenwu.

Netizens are quick to point out that when some lines spoken in Chinese are translated, they are not very exact.

One such line was when Xu told Guang Bo played by another Hong Kong actor Yuen Wah: "The salt I've eaten in my life is more than the rice you've eaten".

It was a popular local slang which means one is very experienced, and is usually used on people who are much younger or amateur.

But when the line is translated in the English subtitle, it says "I've lived 1,000 years more than you" – a correct translation, but missing the detail.

”As an Asian (Taiwanese) Australian, it is so obvious that the film was written through the lens of those who have a lot of love for Asian culture and have lived through the Asian experience. The Chinese lines are written so well that a lot of the times the English subtitles actually failed to convey the nuances behind each line,” a Reddit user wrote.

Shang-chi is expected to soar to the top of the US box office over the holiday weekend with an estimated four-day debut of US$75 million to US$85 million.

This would put the movie slightly below the debut of Black Widow, which opened to US$80 million over three days and US$60 million on Disney Plus Premier Access, Variety reported.

However, Shang-chi is expected to break the record for all-time Labor Day weekend earnings, far surpassing those of 2007’s Halloween, which made US$30.6 million in 2007.

The movie is also screening in Hong Kong. 

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