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When talking about a movie how can we make sure that everybody is talking about the same? In other words, is it mandatory to name the original title of a movie?

Background: We had some questions about different titles for the same movie like move titles in foreign contries and different titles between the US and the UK.

In general, since this is an English site it's clear that I wouldn't talk about a German translation for an english title. But as examples have shown there sometimes is an English title different to an English original title. I guess it's easy to search up via IMDb but to address a question to a larger audience and to not have duplicates about the same movie should we state that the original title is to be used?

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If the movie's original title is in fact English, then that title should always be used, since it is the original title and fits to the language of this site. If it has an alternative English title in certain countries, then this should rather not be used, since this would be counter-intuitive as it is not the original title, even if it fits the language of the stie. Of course some people might not recognize it under the original, but so would it be with the alternative title for others and you cannot name each and every alternative title existing. One just has to make an objective compromise, and the original title is the best compromise possible, which is also what should be used for tags.

A much more interesting and difficult problem arises when the movie's original title is not in English (while it may still have an English title for English-speaking countries). In this case the two goals of matching the language of this site and refering to the movie by the most canonical name will deviate. I still tend to favor the site's language in this case, but I guess it may be a question by question (or movie by movie) decision. For some movies the alternative English title is very well-known, while others might not even have one. In some cases one can be lucky and they don't deviate that much (like here), or one chooses to name both titles (like here). But the point where a hard decision has to be made and where it also matters for the future structural integrity of the whole site is the tags. Since tags have quite a referential character it is important to find a consistent policy for those, of which I for myself am not completely sure at the moment.

But whatever title one uses in the question, in such ambiguous cases what always helps to quickly clear any confusion is a drect link to the corresponding Wikipedia article or IMDB entry (especially since IMDB can automatically show you the title in your language), a policy which I usually enforce in my own questions at least but would like to encourage in general.

  • As much as it stinks against foreigners, I believe all SE sites have to be written in English unless otherwise allowed (like German.SE). Not quite sure if this is an SE rule or a clause of the CC license. – Tablemaker Jun 27 '13 at 12:39
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    @TylerShads Yeah, I agree. As much as we require people to understand English, we might in the same way require them to recognize movies they might know under a different title. But with movies that don't even have an English title it is really a bit difficult to enforce this policy 100%. But Ok, maybe one could just assume that those movies, if screened in English-speaking countries (even if they never are), would just go under their original titles and thus the original title is the "English title". – Napoleon Wilson Jun 27 '13 at 12:48
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Why not use both title the English and the original non-English title ? (We can't mention all translations)

The Brand New Testament (Le Tout Nouveau Testament)

or maybe:

The Brand New Testament (orig: Le Tout Nouveau Testament)

Personally, I don't care about what was the original title, even

Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament)

would suit me. The point is that non-English site users should be able to recognize the movie.

The only place where this may cause a bit of a problem is in question titles that become long.

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    Shouldn't be much of a problem in question titles, since they don't need to mention the movie title anyway. So rather not clutter question titles with every possible translation ever. Still, mentioning both is not really an option for tags unfortunately. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 7 '16 at 12:37

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