How Did Hodor ‘Hold the Door’ Around the World?
Last week, the many, many fans of the epic Game of Thrones around the world witnessed an example of the challenges of localizing character name and language-specific tricks, something we have discussed in a previous MoGi blog.
So, how did they manage it? And was it a success? Warning, the below article contains MAJOR spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 5 yet, back away and come back later!
The plot-line in question concerned the origin of Hodor’s name and how it came to be the only word in his vocabulary. As we now know (final spoiler warning), it’s an abbreviation of the ‘hold the door’ instruction he repeated endlessly to himself whilst holding off the White Walkers as Bran and Meera made their escape.
Obviously, in English, the transition from ‘Hodor’ to ‘hold the door’ is pretty straightforward. In other languages, not so much. Viewers from across the world were quick to share how it was handled in their language on movies.stackexchange and it generated some interesting discussion.
For German, the phrase ‘Halt das Tor!’ was used. Whilst ‘Tor’ more accurately translates as ‘gate,’ it’s clear that this phrase is easier to morph into Hodor.
Other languages had to take a few more liberties. Spanish, for example, took a number of leaps with the phrase ‘Ocluye el corridor.’ Firstly, this is an extremely strange way of saying ‘block the corridor.’ Secondly, getting from here to ‘Hodor’ requires more than a little imagination.
The French broadcast added in an additional stage to make the transition work. “Qu’ils n’aillent pas au-dehors!” became “Pas au-dehors!” and then finally “Hodor.”
Other languages, especially the Scandinavian quartet of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish simply avoided the complications all together through the use of subtitles and literal translations.
This plot development was further complicated by the fact that no Game of Thrones fans – viewers nor readers – knew the origins of Hodor’s name as the TV show is now ahead of George R. R. Martin’s novels.
Had the whole ‘hold the door’ thing been known before HBO commissioned the series, there would have been plenty of time to come up with the perfect solution.