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The Excellency Of German Translator Claude M. Moyse

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Germans who grew up playing Nintendo games in the 90s will have come across one of Claude M. Moyse's translations in one way or another. He was quite a divisive translator – personally, I liked his works, but there are many people who didn't. For anyone who isn't familiar with his works, let me introduce some of his more infamous translations to you.

He was the head editor of the Club Nintendo magazine, basically Germany's version of Nintendo Power. Aside from that, he was also responsible for translating games into German, including classics such as The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Secret of Mana, and Secret of Evermore. However, he had a very…particular sense of humour, so he liked to include some bizarre dialogue in the games he worked on. Some examples below:

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Never Without a Condom!

There is a certain enemy called Buzz Blob that gives you an electric shock when you hit it with your sword. However, if you use magic powder on it, it turns into an even stranger creature and gives some weird dialogue such as "It can display millions of polygons!" or "Hey Mon!". In the German version, however, this strange dialogue was turned up to 11. The creature has two rather interesting lines of dialogue: "NIE OHNE KONDOM!" (Never without a condom!) or "Gib mir deinen Saft, ich geb' dir meinen…" (Give me your juice, I'll give you mine…).

Admittedly, the enemy does have quite a phallic shape…

The Topless Mermaid

In one part of the game, you are supposed to find and return a mermaid's lost necklace. Which, as you can expect, was changed in the German version. In this translation, the mermaid actually lost her bra and is currently hiding her topless body in the water, too ashamed to show herself.

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The best part?

When you bring back the necklace in the English version, Link dives down and attaches it himself. In the German version…well, let's say it gives the scene a slightly different implication. Which is underlined by the mermaid's dialogue: "Hey! Lass das, du Strolch!!!" (Hey! Cut it out, you thug!). Also, when Link returns the bra, one of the dialogue options is "Lechz", which roughly translates to "Drool".

(The bra was also in the Japanese version)

Secret of Mana

Soap-Opera-Loving Goblins

At one point in the game, goblins are trying to cook the main character in a big soup pot. But instead of relevant dialouge, the German goblins are saying: "Hey, schnell! Die Lindenstrasse fängt gleich an!" (Hey, quick! Lindenstrasse is about to start!) — Lindenstraße was one of Germany's most popular soap operas, so these Goblins are quite evolved and cultured, but with a bad taste in TV.

Secret of Evermore

Nintendo's Headquarters

The first place in the game is called Podunk in the English version. A quite harmless, typical fantasy name for an RPG town, right? Well, Mr. Moyse decided to switch things up and changed the name to Großostheim. Which is a real place in Germany, and used to be quite significant – at the time, Großostheim was home to the headquarters of Nintendo of Europe.

Don't Lose Your Head

There is a character in the game called Mr. Head who is apparently just a disembodied head who continues living. The German version, Herr Kopf if you will, is mentioning that he doesn't have any back problems and doesn't suffer at all from rheumatism. In fact, he's quite proud of this. This fun fact wasn't included in the English version, which is a shame in my opinion – it gives a nice backstory to this otherwise fairly unimportant character.

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There are probably a lot more examples of Moyse's "creative" translation works, but these are the ones that stand out to me the most. Nowadays he is -for better or worse- not working in the video games industry anymore, but for a publishing company that mainly focuses on Asian culture magazines.


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