May The Fries Be With You: Burgers, Star Wars, and Translation

Category: Translation Services

When it comes to names and Star Wars, there’s more than meets the eye, just like the new “Dark Vador” black bun burgers being offered by Belgian burger chain Quick (check out this article from the Christian Science Monitor for more details). “Vader” is Dutch for “father,” and “Vater” is the same in German, making Darth’s name an obvious allegory. Yes, Luke (or Luc, in France), his name is father and he is your father. 

But the name change is not a spelling error. In the French versions of Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s name morphs from Darth Vader to Dark Vador (if your French is up to snuff, this French Wikipedia article explains Monsieur Vador in greater detail). The linguistic reasons lie in pronunciation. French lacks a “th” sound, making Darth almost impossible to pronounce, while “Dark” is easier on the French tongue and preserves the original flavor of the English. It also keeps the allegory alive and well in a different language. Darth Maul receives the same treatment (though his burger does not sport the shocking black bun). 

And the switch from “er” to “or” in Vader? The “schwa” sound is the most common in English, but it’s not the case in French. The vowel change to an “o” makes the name match up with the dubbing that’s common for French versions of the movies. C3PO’s name is 6PO in French for the same reason, explains StarWars-Universe.

Curiously, Quick likes to use English words for other menu offerings (as noted here), providing short translations at the bottom of their ads. The “Strong Bacon” burger currently on promotion explains that strong is “fort” while in the Dark Vador campaign “dark = puissance obscure.” Would you like fries with your Dark side? Merci beaucoup!

If you find yourself in France, rest assured that “Dark Vador” is the legitimate overlord you’re familiar with, and the dark bun has not exceeded its expiration date. If your business is ready to navigate the linguistic challenges of French in your next marketing campaign, we’re certainly the Force you can use

Photo attribution: oscar juarez