I recently borrowed The Martian (Matt Damon as Mark Watney, stranded on Mars) from my local library; having only seen a fragment of a trailer for the movie at some point, I didn’t know much more than the basic plot line–it’s always nice when you can see a movie without having seen too many spoilers!
Apologies if I’m spoiling the movie for anyone here, but it was a pleasant and totally unexpected surprise to see a scene shot with Mandarin dialogue. I’m sure many students of the language shared my delight in following along with the dialogue.
There were a couple of words that I couldn’t catch, so I hit rewind and then ended up trying to search online to see how words like ‘orbit’ and (rocket) ‘booster’ are written (i.e. in Chinese characters). To my surprise, I wasn’t able to find the whole dialogue in one place, so I thought I would transcribe and capture it in one document and share it here.
Surely I can’t be the only language enthusiast who wanted to stop and soak up this dialogue? If you’re looking for the Mandarin spoken between Guo Ming (played by Eddy Ko) and Zhu Tao (played by Chen Shu) in the CNSA offices, I hope this pdf (click here or on image above) is useful for you!
The English you see in the movie subtitles is very accurate, save the small edits made for brevity. For example: “Their astronaut is going to die” (movie) vs. “Their astronaut is going to starve to death” (see above). I remember once hearing that subtitle translation for movies is a subtle art— because the human eye can only comfortably read so much dialogue as it flashes across the screen, translators need to be concise; in other words, we can’t read as fast as we can listen so sometimes the ‘correct’ translation isn’t the best one.
If anyone finds an error, let me know!
1. [key vocab, characters, pinyin]: Mandarin in The Martian: CNSA Dialogue (with pinyin)
2. tracing sheet (what is this?) : Dialogue only (no pinyin–汉子 only)