10

There's a Hungarian children's animated series from the late '70-s called Kockásfülű Nyúl¹: this translates (almost literally) to The bunny with checkered ears.

Who is this little fellow?

Although this is correct translation, it sounds awful to my ears - the English version is much longer and lacks the playfulness of the original.

I realize that not everything can be translated from one language to another but I'm hoping someone could recommend a better translation to this series.

¹ Unfortunately, the linked Wikipedia page has several episode titles mis-translated - whoever wrote it up, used literal translation, rather than translating the meaning of the titles.

  • 1
    I'd be tempted to call it "the bunny with argyle ears". Much more mellifluous :) – Dan Bron Sep 10 '15 at 18:24
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    @DanBron I like that more but the with .... ears part still makes it sound twisted. (At least to me.) The Hungarian version is closer to The argyle-eared bunny which sounds much better already. – xxbbcc Sep 10 '15 at 18:30
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    If "argyle-eared bunny" sounds better to you than "bunny with argyle ears", you probably have argyle ears. ;) – TRomano Sep 10 '15 at 18:42
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    Flow is somewhat subjective, but I think most native speakers would disagree with you on that. Argyle-eared bunny is almost a tongue-twister. – TRomano Sep 10 '15 at 18:46
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    FWIW, there's a well-known English kids' book called The Velveteen Rabbit, which might give you some idea how a similar concept was treated in English. – The Photon Sep 10 '15 at 19:03
17

Translating the names of characters when the names have obvious meaning is fraught with trouble. As a particular example I would point toward the characters in the Asterix comics, whose original names in French are invariably French words and phrases, e.g., the dog Idéfix.

Famously the English translators threw out any attempt to translate the meaning of the names in favour of the spirit: to wit, being witty and hopefully groan-worthy. Few of the characters have the same meaning to their name; instead the translators (Bell and Hockridge) stuck to the rule of "Word or phrase meaningful in the readers' language which ends with the sound -ix".

(...Idéfix being the primary exception. Their translation Dogmatix not only kept the meaning it added the word "dog" to boot. But this is such a rare occurrence that that particular coup is spoken about with awe).

On the general principle of "Good enough for Asterix is good enough for me", I'd aim for euphony over exactness, say Checker Bunny, or if you want a pun, Checkear Bunny.

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    I really like Checkear Bunny. The reason I'm trying to translate the name is to tell my daughter (who speaks English) how to call the bunny in English. She uses the Hungarian name in the middle of English sentences. And I'm also familiar with Asterix - the Hungarian translators did the same thing. – xxbbcc Sep 10 '15 at 21:59
  • I've decided to accept your answer - it's more playful than any other variants that retain the with... construct and - personally - I feel it has a better flow. – xxbbcc Sep 11 '15 at 14:36
4

I'd recommend "the bunny with argyle ears".

Argyle is a pattern of colored diamonds; you could think of it as checkerboard turned 45°. For example, from the Memidex dictionary:

argyle: a design consisting of a pattern of varicolored diamonds on a solid background (originally for knitted articles); patterned after the tartan of a clan in western Scotland

Now, in the cartoon image of your question, I'd say the bunny's ears are, in fact, checked, because the shapes are squares (aligned with the horizontal axis), but in the Wikipedia image of a stuffed animal version, the argyle sticks out much more strongly.

Compare:

cropped image of Kockásfülű Nyúl toy's ear showing argyle pattern
Image credit: Wikipedia

stock photo of pink-on-pink argyle pattern
Image credit: Royalty free stock photos

I also think the cadence of "the bunny with argyle ears" is much more pleasing and mellifluous than the original "checkered ears", or even "checked ears"; @Silenus gives a convincing rationale why this may be so:

I think "the bunny with argyle ears" is very fluid (scanning it as iamb-anapest-iamb). In my opinion it is definitely superior to "the bunny with checkered ears" which, although it scans the same, has an ugly pair of consonant digraphs in "with checkered"

In other words, the iamb-anapest-iamb meter lends the phrase its fluidity.

  • I upvoted this answer because - so far - I find this the best suggestion. In addition, in the animated series, the pattern actually moves around and it's much more frequently a diamond pattern. – xxbbcc Sep 10 '15 at 20:28
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    Modify the meter slightly to "Bunny with the argyle ears" and Frank Sinatra could sing it to "Nancy with the laughing face". If he were still with us. – Jim Mack Sep 10 '15 at 21:16
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    I wonder if anyone has ever made an agile gargoyle with argyle ears… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 10 '15 at 22:48
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    FWIW I actually looked at the cartoon on YouTube, the bunny ears are pink squares/diamonds on a white background, or vice versa, quite different from the felt toy and the image posted by the OP. – Mari-Lou A Sep 11 '15 at 11:00
  • Thank you for your answer - if I could accept more than 1 answer, this would be the other. As it is, I chose Paul Drye's answer over this because I feel it's more playful - as you put it, more mellifluous (if I use that word correctly). I think both answers are great and are way better than the translation on Wikipedia. – xxbbcc Sep 11 '15 at 14:37
1

My suggestion 'checkerboard bunny.'

Here's a picture of checkerboard cake for comparison.

enter image description here

Source: CHECKERBOARD CAKE HOW-TO

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    Isn't it also called Battenberg cake? That's the name I've always known this cake to be called. – Mari-Lou A Sep 10 '15 at 20:41
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    Maybe call him/her Battenburg Bunny then ;) Actually I would say that battenburg is just one form of checkerboard cake. Maybe it was the first of many. – chasly from UK Sep 10 '15 at 21:00
  • Two upvotes on your comment seem to suggest that users like this name. – Mari-Lou A Sep 11 '15 at 10:53
0

Chessboard bunny? It's a little softer.

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