Z6PO? How the French originally translated the names of Star Wars characters

May the 4th is Star Wars day ("May the Fourth be with you"). In its honour, here's how the Star Wars characters were given a French makeover for a French audience. Que la force soit avec toi.

Z6PO? How the French originally translated the names of Star Wars characters
Photo: AFP

In the original Star Wars most of the characters had to be given a French name so it was either more pronounceable or more understandable to a French audience. 

But how do you translate names like Chewbacca and Darth Vader?

Here’s a look at what the original French characters were called, although some of the names have been dropped since the seventies after the translations were ridiculed by French viewers.

Note that the original film was called “La Guerre des Etoiles” but the cultural language police seem to have softened up a bit since 1977 with the original English name Star Wars adopted for the newer films.

1. Jabba the Hutt = Jabba “the Woodsman”

Jabba the Hutt, the gangster described as a cross between a toad and a Cheshire cat, was called “Jabba Le Forestier” (Jabba the Woodsman) in the original French version of the film. Nowadays he is typically referred to in French as Jabba le Hutt. 

2. The Millenium Falcon =  Le Millénium Condor

The legendary spaceship driven by Han Solo had to be given a French makeover and it was decided the best name to suit it was “Le Millénium Condor”, but that name has since been dropped too and the Faucon Millénium seems to suffice these days.

3. Han Solo = Yan Solo

Given that French people can struggle to pronounce the letter H, Han Solo was given a name change and became Yan Solo. Not far off, but just not the same.

4. C3PO and R2D2 = Z6PO and D2R2

The famous droids from the film also had their names changed for a French audience. For some reason the blue and white R2-D2 was reversed to become D2-R2 and his buddy C3PO became Z-6PO, possibly because “C3” when pronounced in French sounds a little bit too much like “C'est toi” – “It's you”

5. Chewbacca = Chiktabba

The “Chew” sound is another tough one for the French so the film's famous furry fighter was renamed “Chiktabba”, or “Chico” for short. 

6. Darth Vader = Dark Vador

That old pesky “th” sound is a problem for French tongues so Darth Vader had to be given a Gallic name as change – well, more of an Anglo name change as he became “Dark Vador” on French screens. Not too far from the truth. 

7. Luke Skywalker = Luke “Skyrunner”

The “humble farmboy who rose to become the greatest Jedi fighter ever known” (not our words) was actually called Luc Courleciel (Luke “Skyrunner”) in the original film, but since then he's been allowed to drop the French translation.

All photos: AFP


German observatory goes viral after Star Wars re-styling

A German professor has brought international attention to Zweibrücken in the country’s southwest after repainting an observatory to look like Star Wars robot R2D2.

German observatory goes viral after Star Wars re-styling
Image: Facebook (Hochschule Kaiserslautern)

Hubert Zitt, an electrotechnology professor at the Zweibrücken University of Applied Sciences in Rhineland-Palatinate, is known for giving his lectures a science fiction feel. 

For decades Zitt has discussed the real-life possibilities of science fiction technology and how they could be achieved.

He came to international prominence by discussing the potential for beaming and warp-drive technologies in his class “The Physics of Star Trek” at universities and science fiction conventions around the globe. 

The observatory in Zweibrücken. Image: Facebook

Thinking that he needed to bring a little science fiction flavour to the observatory, he got together a team of painters – including his father and several of his students. 

The tower’s transformation actually took place in late 2018, but it has only recently gone viral in the American media. 

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill gave professor Zitt a shoutout on Twitter, thanking him for turning Germans into “Giant Nerds”.

Hamill’s predictions seem to be coming to fruition, with Star Wars fans from around the world travelling  to the small town on the French border to get their own slice of viral fame. 


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