"Knull is Coming" - Marvel missing the fact that fantasy names can be words in other languages
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- Marvel teases "Knull is coming"
- George Marston
- Jul 1 2020
- Word count
- 294 words
This isn't a Marvel issue, really. You can point fingers at them for being a media powerhouse that should know better, but practice shows that they won't, because your average artist rarely does.
This sort of a mistake arises from the fact that not everyone – hell, nearly no one – has the systemic insight that allow them to pull the brake before launching a new thing into production and say "Hold up. Does that word mean something in other languages?".
"Systemic insight" here is an umbrella term for "knowing a lot, and being able to pull from that knowledge in a way that may show flaws in the item being attended to". In other words, it's the ability to recognize when something is amiss because you know how it should look like on a scale greater than "this item right here".
On the "this item right here" scale, "Knull" as a fantasy name looks perfectly fine. On the "this genre right here" scale, it sounds fine, too. It takes a particular sort of insight to be able to stand even further back and look at the "this linguistic term right here".
You don't need to speak all the languages to be able to spot it as a chief editor, or as an illustrator, or as a character designer. You only have to have the system in place to weed out flaws that at least one other person can spot. Practice shows, however, that there are no systems like this anywhere. It's why you still see bullshit Russian in all the Hollywood flicks, even though
You could go out and consult any number Russian speakers – including translators, who would have a more precise understanding of what translates to what between the two languages – but that doesn't happen very often. My guess? Most people simply aren't wired this way.
It's not a final sentence. I'm sure with a system for fact-checking in place (and people knowing about it), more creators will be willing to use it. But someone has to establish it first, ensure its quality, and be able to sustain it for long enough for it to gain traction.
I don't think its an issue at all tbh - people here just thought it was fun (we don't have the same wealth of actually bad words as other languages). I mean the character isn't very intimidating since the name is pretty silly.
But I think a lot of Swedes will buy the comics though :)
I wasn't referring to it as an issue to mean "it may cause social uproar". Glad Swedes took it in good faith.
It is, however, a flaw in development that we would be better off without.
Oh sorry for misreading you <3
(The only change I remember was the car brand Nissan that had to change their car "Nissan Fitta" since "Fitta" = "Cunt" (although with a nice etymological background since "Fitta" also means "moist grassland"))
Fun fact: Toyota MR2 didn't sell very well in France. "MR2" (em-er-due) sounds awfully similar to "merde", which is French for "shit".
"fast fart"? Ehm that's "a solid fart" which I guess would be a shit :)
Please, fart jokes is the smelly topping on the cake of life. No shame! :D
To some extent, there are simply a finite number of short words. There are inevitably going to be collisions between different languages.
I am reminded of the Greek expletive μαλάκας, most often used as μαλάκα. This sounds exactly like Malacca, which, of course, causes considerable problems for discussing topics involving Southeast Asia. In fact, in many places, Μαλάκα is the transliteration of the Malacca in the Straight of Malacca and elsewhere.
In writing, this led to the somewhat unusual Μαλάκκα, the double-κ presumably existing to distinguish the word in written works, and to the peculiar tendency observed when Greek news discussed the disappearance of MH 370 to deliberately mispronounce the word by putting the stress (modern Greek has semantically-important accents) on the first syllable, saying Μάλακα, despite this not being in any dictionary or atlas, because it avoided the conflict.
I'm usually surprised with names, in general, when it's clear that the author didn't bother to google whether they're names in other cultures. Back in the day when you had to go to a library to find stuff like this it makes sense, but when we have Google and an English to [any language with a written script and more than 100 fluent speakers with access to the Internet] dictionary at our fingertips what is stopping people?
This happens constantly in fantasy. There are so many Farsi and Sanskrit names for fantasy characters that the authors don't find out about until after publication when an Indian or Persian fan points it out to them. I think it's especially the case there because English, Sanskrit, and Farsi are all Indo-European, so there are a lot of shared phonemes and linguistic roots along with a general sense for how words are supposed to sound, what sounds pleasant vs harsh, etc. This is in contrast to languages that have completely alien sounds to English speakers (like !X) or tonal languages where English speakers don't even understand how they work.
So while the cultures are foreign enough that their words sound pretty alien to an English speaker, we still have similar-enough ideas about what collections of sounds plausibly work as names or words that it's easy to just make stuff up that happens to already be a name. And yet neither authors nor editors seem to think it's worth it to bother plugging the names they're thinking of into a Baby Names dictionary to see what comes out. Baffling!
A fun one is Chandra from Magic the Gathering. They clearly chose it because she's a pyromancer and the word sounds vaguely like the verb "to char." But Chandra is the Hindu God of the Moon! In addition to being a masculine name he's associated with tranquility, spirituality, esoteric knowledge, and altered states of consciousness. If that name belongs anywhere on the Magic color pie, it belongs in Blue.
...and make it financially viable.
If and when such a system is put into place it will need to be proven that the added expense of its checks either garners greater revenues or prevents loss of revenue from boycott from the group in question. Until that's shown there's little point in doing so from the filmmaker's perspective.
Well in this case I think it makes MORE people here watch it with their kids - since its kinda fun :)
(A friend whos geeky teenage son is a massive superhero-movie fan is just dying to see him ask if he can go watch it - just to see him squirm about the name :D she tried to hide that she saw it on social media so he wouldn't see. Sadism and parenting is a good combo at times)
The artist can just try Google Translate, it's great for words. However, as art goes, it's easy to get stuck on a name.
I typed "translate knull to English" and got it's translation and native language.
I feel bad for the Dutch who didn't stand a chance against Darth Vader, however.
I remember seeing this site a while back too: http://wordsafety.com/
I'm not sure if it's still being updated and it's not comprehensive (it says it has about 3000 words from 19 languages), but it works for this one anyway - typing in "knull" gives:
"Knull" means "A fuck" in Swedish as well as other Nordic languages. A fuck is coming indeed.
Specifically the little poster with the white drippy font makes it just brilliant.
'Knallen' auf Deutsch, auch :)
Which is funny, 'cause its literal meaning is "to bang".
It's the Marvel Universe, it's always something fucked that's coming.
Considering who that is, possibly intentional.