I want these goddamned eight-headed snakes out of the goddamned Hi river!

Snakes on a Plane's official Japanese title apparently remains undecided. Here are the candidates I've seen online so far:

  1. スネークス・オン・ア・プレーン -- straight transliteration
  2. 飛行機に蛇 -- "Snakes [located] on a plane"
  3. 飛行機で蛇 -- "Snakes [doing something or having something done to them] on a plane"
  4. 蛇が飛行機の中に -- "Snakes [are located/have come] inside a plane"

Naturalment, the poetry of the original does not completely translate, but I think I like the fourth best. Although I would streamline it: 『蛇が飛行機に』 or 『蛇が機内に』 even. Maybe add an exclamation point.

I also chanced upon two Chinese titles. (UPDATE: And people got me hip to two more in comments, as well as helping with meanings; thanks, everybody! Errors remain mine.)

  1. 飛機上有蛇 -- "There are snakes on the plane" (Taiwan)
  2. 航班蛇患 -- "Snake woes on a flight" (mainland China); I guess you wouldn't want patrons to go in expecting a heartwarming comedy about lovable snakes on their way to Hawai'i or something
  3. 空中蛇灾 -- "Midair snake disaster" (mainland China)
  4. 毒蛇嚇機 -- "Venomous snakes threaten a plane" (?) (Hong Kong)

No idea whether any are official, but note the geography-based differences. The next time someone's all up in your grill like "But [your name here], even if simplified-to-traditional is one-to-many and therefore requires contextual parsing of some sort, traditional-to-simplified should be a trivial many-to-one mapping", you can just say "Oh yeah? And what about the lexical differences? What about SNAKES ON A PLANE?"

Popularity factor: 13


I also see that 空中蛇灾 'midair snake disaster' is also used on the mainland.

Also, it could be my lack of compounding/morphology intuitions in Chinese, but 飛機上有蛇 is actually a whole clause "there are snakes on the plane." I'm not sure (but doubt) that it could be interpreted as just a noun phrase headed by 蛇 (even in abbreviated newspaperese-type speak).


Ah, I stand corrected! I had assumed that since the noun came at the end, the rest of it was some kind of relative clause.

Midair snake disaster -- I like it!


How about streamlined with a traditional twist, something like 機内蛇の物語り?(The tale of in flight snakes?)
Isn't there some rule that a movie title has to be changed to the extent it no longer has any linguistic association with the original?


They should b-movie up the options a little more and go for something like 恐怖のフライト:蛇アタック!

These katakana renditions do nothing for me; the most laughable one I can recall was "Road to Perdition", where I imagine that most people with a little knowledge of English grammar would have assumed that Perdition was a place name. And why 指輪物語 was ditched in favour of Road of the Lings is baffling...


Is the title a reference to the story of Susano-o and Orochi? That opens up a whole host of potential classical references.
空蛇:the lost sequel to 土蜘蛛, in which a vassal tracks down the three hundred or so snakes harrassing his lord (estimated performance time: six weeks).
飛行機弁慶:a contemporary counterpart to 船弁慶, in which Yoshitsune's transpacific flight is attacked by the ghost of Tomomori... and snakes. Just because.
蛇娘道成寺:an adaptation of the kabuki 娘道成寺, adapted from the original bunraku, adapted from the original original Noh. A jealous lover turns into a snake and kills the monk who spurned her. Then her new snake friends kill everyone else.


The Hong Kong Chinese title for the movie is 毒蛇嚇機.


Thanks, anon-1!

gme: But wasn't Perdition a place name in that story? (Obviously used with a double meaning)

joseph & anon-0: Those are some fine old-school ideas right there. Let's not forget "Snakes in a Treasury of Loyal Retainers", either, in which 47 samurai wait patiently and secretly for years only to see their final day of vengeance ruined when 2,209 snakes interfere.


I agree with Russell.

Also, 航班 is "flight" not "plane."


Ya got me on the place name. Had forgotten that one. But dammit, they should have done something better than katakanizing it...

My vote goes to 蛇娘道成寺, on the condition that it somehow incorporate the jumping-into-the-bell-and-coming-out-a-demon bit from the Noh version (did that survive in the kabuki/bunraku versions?), possibly in a way that involves the aeroplane toilet and some turbulence.



Katakanafying "Lord of the Rings" was foolish mostly because after seeing all the previews, assuming that it was "Road of the Ring" was entirely reasonable. Many people I knew at the time did exactly that.


...and we now have photographic evidence to confirm two of the Chinese titles!

Gaijin Biker:

More importantly, how will they subtitle Samuel L. Jackson's big line?


My money's on "inadequately".

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