The names of international cartoon characters usually are maintained like in the original language, but sometimes they are translated to the local language. The reasons to do it are very complex. It might be historical reasons: Nowadays it is more globalized, but in the past, when the dubbing and the editorial teams were more fragmented, it was more common to adapt, not only to the script or the orthography but also to find a completely new and different title. Those are the cultural reasons. It is possible that the translator considers that the name needs to be changed, otherwise it would sound bad.

Disney’s ducks

Huey, Dewey & Louie

A map of the different names of Huey, Dewey & Louie in several European languages
Ducklings everywhere

It is surprising how often the names of the three nephews have been adapted to the local audiences. More than other cartoon characters. Just some languages use the English names literally or their transcription. Others chose native names which sound more familiar: in Spanish (diminutive of John, George, James in Spain; Hugh, James, and Louis in America; except in Argentina where they are Hugh, Frank, and Louis), Portuguese (diminutive of Hugh, Joseph, Louis; in Brasil before had other names) and Catalan (diminutive of John, George, James).

Names are sound: The most peculiar cases are the onomatopoeias: in Italian “qua qua”, In Dutch “kwak kwak” or “kwaak kwaak” and in Danish is “rap rap”. Icelandic probably took the names from Danish, however, they say “bra bra” so the onomatopoeic reference is not so evident.

Donald Duck

A map of the different names of Donald Duck in several European languages
Donald. Aka Paul, Andrew, and Carl

On the other hand, his uncle’s name changes very little. Only a few languages do not know him as Donald. In Italian “Paolino” is translated as Paul (Paperino is “gosling or duckling”); Danish “Anders” and Icelandic “Andrés” are Andrew; in Swedish is Carl “Kalle”; in Finnish “Aku” could be translated as Augustin; “Paško” is the Slavic name for Pascal, and in Slovenian “Jaka” is Jacob or James, same as Erzya “Jaku”.

Scrooge McDuck

Map of the different names of Scrooge McDuck in several European languages
The richest duck in the animal kingdom

Mickey Mouse

Map of the different names of Mickey Mouse in several European languages
Just Mike, for his friends

FAQ:

Who does not know the name of this cartoon?

Is there on the planet someone who does not call him Mickey Mouse? Well, it does. Some languages choose to adopt the name Mickey phonetically: Miki. Much better! Some even dare to do it with his surname “Maus”. However, in German, it is not, it actually the translation of mouse. So it does Czech Myšák, Hungarian Egér, Finnish Hiiri, or Turkish Fare among others.

In my country, we do not call it…”

True. But it has changed over time. Remember that he is almost 100 years old. Even the original one was supposed to be called Mortimer. Eventually, Disney’s wife advised him not to do so. As you can see in the gallery in Brazil was known as “Camundongo Mickey” and “Ratinho Curioso” (Curious mouse). In the 40s and 50s as “Ratón Miguelín or Miguelito” in Spain. “Mikkle Mus” was the name in Denmark until 1949, in pre-war Yugoslavia a copy was known as “Mika Miš”.

Probably the most exotic name is “Michael Musculus”. Latin cartoons exist. Now go and buy one. It is worth mentioning that the similarity between muscle and little mouse is not a coincidence:

“Muscle: from Latin musculus “a muscle,” literally “a little mouse,” diminutive of mus “mouse”. So-called because the shape and movement of some muscles (notably biceps) were thought to resemble mice. The analogy was made in Greek, too, where mys is both “mouse” and “muscle”

source: https://www.etymonline.com/word/muscle

So who is Topolino?

The most famous cartoon by Walt Disney is known as Topolino in Italy. Topo means “mouse”, guess what -lino means.

What about Musse Pigg?

Isn’t it a pig? Nop. In Swedish means “cheerful”. Mouse is mus. So we guess it must be an imaginative name like “the animated mouse”.

Goofy

Map of the different names of Goofy in several European languages: Pateta, Dingo, Pippo, Fedtmule, etc.
My mamma says that Goofy is as goofy does

Dippy Dawg wasan old dog-like character, in the thirties, he changed the name to Goofy, and several aliases were also used. However many kids from around the world know him by a different name. In Portuguese and Danish, Pateta and Hopo can be translated as “fool”. Danish Fedtmule is literally “fat-muzzle”. Norwegian, Swedish, and Sami names mean something like “Long-leg”. Šilja or Šiljo are words to describe an “unusually tall man”. French dingo is derived from dingue “mad, someone who is nuts”. But do you what is literally nuts? Bunduq in Arabic is the word also used for hazelnuts. Other names from the green group do not have a translation. Or do they? Do you know the meaning of Kliunkis? Write it down in the comment section.

Chip and Dale

Map of the different names of "Chip 'n' Dale" in several European languages
The smallest detectives ever

The original name in English of the couple of chipmunks is a pun on the name of the 18th-century cabinet maker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale. In the East, the name is usually adapted, while in the East different names are used.

In German in 1952 they came up with the names “Ahörnchen und Beehörnchen”, literally “A-squirrel & B-squirrel” (from Eichhörnchen). You see, German ingenuity at its best. But when the tv cartoon began its emission they were renamed “Chip und Chap”. It resembles the translation of Danish, Italian, and Spanish in Spain.

Another language that changed names was in Swedish, the first name was The two rats. Not very catchy. Later they tried with “herr och fru vessla” (Mr. and Miss Weasel). Currently, “Piff och Puff” are their names.

In the Arabic-speaking countries, they changed from French “Tic et Toc” to Arabic “Shib w Adil”, even though nowadays they are “Sanajib” and “Sanjub”.

In other languages, it seems that there is no reason behind the name, or there is? I am really concerned about the Portuguese one: “Tico e Teco“, literally penis and piece. I am quite sure I have made a mistake translating this one. In Dutch, the characters are “Knabbel en Babbel”, which sounds like “Knibble and Babble”. It is one of my favorites.

But definitely the most interesting story in the Finnish one: Chimpmuks are maaorava (literally, ground+squirrel). Recently, in 2008 it was proposed a new name tikutakut, which is based on “Tiku ja Taku“, the name of Chip and Dale in Finnish. The English word chipmunks come from an Ojibwe word ačitamo˙nˀ, which means squirrels.

The Smurfs

Map of the different names of "The Smurf" or "Les schtroumpfs"  in several European languages: Los Pitufos, Šmoulové, etc.
A classic of cultural mapping

The name of the Smurfs is a made-up word in most languages. Wikipedia says:

“according to Peyo, the original author of the Smurfs comic strip, the term and the accompanying language of the Smurfs came during a meal he had with his colleague and friend André Franquin at the Belgian Coast. Having momentarily forgotten the word “salt”, Peyo asked him to pass the schtroumpf:

“Passe-moi… le schtroumpf !”

Franquin jokingly replied:

“Tiens, voilà le schtroumpf, et quand tu auras fini de le schtroumpfer, tu me le reschtroumpferas !”

(Here’s the Schtroumpf, when you are done schtroumpfingschtroumpf it back.) And the two spent the rest of that weekend speaking in schtroumpf language.

Later it was adapted to Dutch into Smurf by Armand van Raalte. Some languages chose the French word and other the Dutch. But we have seen in other cases, translators sometimes wake up feeling creative. In 1969 Miguel Agustí came up with the word “pitufo” in Spanish, from Catalan “Patufet”, the local version of Tom ThumbLittle Thumb, or Thumbling. However, the Catalan name had a different origin. It was translated two years before by Albert Jané. He took the name of a local small imaginary being. In 80’s they mushroomed in the East, in Czechoslovakia the name was meant to sound similar to a shade of blue “šmolka”.

The Powerpuff Girls

Map of the different names of the cartoon tv show "The powerpuff girls"  in several European languages
The names of the tv show
Map of the different names of three main characters from "The Powerpuff Girls": Blossom, Bubbles & Buttercup  in several European languages
The names of the girls

The Flintstones

Map of the different names of "The Flintstones"  in several European languages: Pierrafeu, Picapiedra, Feurerstein, etc.
Cartoons from the Stone Age

The Simpsons

Map of the different names of "The Simpsons" in several European languages
The most famous family on TV

Family guy

Map of the different names of "Family guy" in several European languages
The crazy guy from the Griffins

Asterix: Getafix

Map of the different names of "Getafix" or "Panoramix" in several European languages: Miraculix, Magicoturmix, etc
The druid of the comic “Asterix”

Beauty and the Beast: Cogsworth

Map of the different names of Cogsworth, the character from "Beauty and the Beast" in several European languages
What kind of beast made this?

Susuwatari

A map of the different name of a Japanese fictitious sprite, suswatari, from the movies My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001)
The japanesse dust balls

The names of a Japanese fictitious sprite, suswatari (Japanese: ススワタリ / 煤渡り “wandering soot”), from the movies My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Spirited Away (2001). Also called Makkuro kurosuke (まっくろくろすけ; “makkuro” meaning “pitch black”, “kuro” meaning “black” and “-suke” being a common ending for boys names). How did other languages translate it?

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29 Comments

  1. The third Hebrew name is just Lui (לאוי), the “u” means “and”. Same with the Arabic (the “wa”).

  2. Belgium is divided into a French speaking part and a dutch speaking part. The Dutch speaking part says Kwik, Kwek and Kwak (like The Netherlands), the French-speaking part uses the same names as France. What it says now on the map are the Dutch names from 1950 to 1959.

    1. You are right. That is why it is colored gray.

  3. For Latvia it’s Tiks, Tīks and Triks.

  4. Love it! I suggest to move Denmark to the Onomatopoeia group, because the duck in Danish says “Rap rap”, which is why the nephews are called Rip, Rap and Rup.

    1. Oh! I think nobody noticed it before. It was a surprise to find that ducks say “rap” in Danish. Thank you.

  5. Artyom Barmazel

    A few transliterations are wrong:
    هويى ديوئى لوئى = HUYI DYUI LUI (you also have a spurious و)
    משפחת קדמוני = MIŠPAḤAT QADMONI
    فلينستن ها = FLINSTEN HA (two words)

    1. Thank you! Transliterations of proper names are very very hard to find.

      1. Artyom Barmazel

        Thanks for the fixes! Although in “FLINSTEN HA”, you fixed the missing space but not the vowels 🙂

        For the newly added maps:
        ميكى ماوس = MIKI MAWS
        הדרדסים = HADARDASIM
        اسکروج مک‌داک = ESKERUJ MAKDAK (and so should be coloured purple)
        العم دهب = ALʿAMM DAHAB
        הדוד סקרוג׳ = HADOD SKRUJ (and the apostrophe-like sign should be to the left of the ג, not to the right of the ה) — also should be coloured blue (Kamtzuz being the translation for “scrooge”)

        Also, the Russian and Ukrainian variants (literally “Uncle Scrooge”) should be purple: “uncle” is localized but “Scrooge” isn’t.

        In Serbian, both “čika” and “baja” mean “older relative, uncle”, and “patak” means “duck”, so the two names are literally “uncle Uncle” and “uncle Duck” — not sure which colour would be appropriate!

        1. Thanks! I added all the corrections. I appreciate a lot. Yeah, I am not sure how to color the Serbo-Croat name.

  6. ItalianStallion

    In the Vatican Donaldus Anas is the translation of Donald Duck and it should be coloured light blue

    1. You are right! Definitely not orange at all. Gratias tibi.

  7. You can add Northern Sami vuojaš (not ˣvuojáš!) and Erzya jakśargo to the list of words that just mean ‘duck’.

    1. Thanks. We fixed vuojas. One question: isn’t “Jaku Jaksjargo” something like “jaku duck”? then it should be orange since the name Donald is not used.

      1. Yes, correct — you just might want to gray out the latter part, similar to Kalle Anka or Aku Ankka.

  8. […] Nombres de los sobrinos de Donald en el mundo […]

  9. […] everywhere: the names of Donald Duck’s three nephews across Europe, from Mapologies (where one will also find the other names of Donald himself and of the […]

  10. […] parlarsi dei propri ricordi infantili… Ma nel 2021 gli autori del blog Mapologies hanno creato una mappa sulla quale sono indicati, Stato per Stato, le versioni «nazionali» dei nomi […]

  11. […] for fun … ever wondered what they call Donald Duck’s nephews in other languages? Now’s your chance to find out. Found via the always diverting Scoop.it page Name News, curated by the delightful – and […]

  12. […] for fun … ever wondered what they call Donald Duck’s nephews in other languages? Now’s your chance to find out. Found via the always diverting Scoop.it page Name News, curated by the delightful – and […]

  13. […] for fun … ever wondered what they call Donald Duck’s nephews in other languages? Now’s your chance to find out. Found via the always diverting Scoop.it page Name News, curated by the delightful – and […]

  14. thank you LPY. I am interested in Smurf. Do you have any clues about who’s the first one name it that way i.e سنافر in Arabic?

  15. Paw@pecinan.net

    “Oncle Picsou “, not Uncle Picsou 🙂

    1. Thanks! now it is fixed

  16. […] Cartoons [Mapologies] – “It is surprising how often the names of the three nephew of Donald [Duck] have been adapted to the local audiences. More than other cartoon characters. Just some languages uses the English names literally or their transcription. Other chose native names which sound more familiar: in Spanish (diminutive of John, George, James in Spain; Hugh, James and Louis in America; except in Argentina where they are Hugh, Frank and Louis), Portuguese (diminutive of Hugh, Joseph, Louis; in Brasil before had other names) and Catalan (diminutive of John, George, James).” It’s about a more than just Hewey, Dewey, and Louie and it’s quite fun to dig into the other names. […]

  17. […] Quella dedicata ai differenti nomi che i nipotini di Paperino, Qui, Quo e Qua, assumono di nazione i… ha colpito la mia attenzione. I nomi subiscono vari adattamenti a seconda della lingua, ma l’assonanza rimane quasi sempre. In inglese sono Huey, Dewey e Louie; in tedesco Tick, Trick e Track; in russo Billi, Villi e Dilli. […]

  18. Copy-paste error: I don’t know the Sami names of Chip’n Dale, but “Vulle Vuojaš” is Donald Duck

    1. Now it’s gone. Thanks!

  19. […] Cartoons (mapologies.wordpress.com) […]

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