Pull my quiff

Article published on April 4, 2007
Article published on April 4, 2007

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Belgian comic-writer Hergé, images of his best-loved character, Tintin, are displayed all around Brussels. Having been translated in more than forty languages, Tintin and friends have spawned a wide variety of names.

In German, the eponymous hero becomes Tim, and in Finland Tintti. The Dutch however seem to have renamed him Kuifje, which literally means toupée but also quiff (or an upturned fringe). It turns him into a metonymy, a metaphor of himself.

Milú, his dog and faithful companion, also enjoys various identities. In Denmark and Norway, he is Terry, since he is a Fox Terrier. In England he becomes Snowy, referring to his whiteness. And in German, Struppi is derived from the adjective struppig, meaning hairy, referring to his short, tough coat.

So what of the detective twin brothers Dupond et Dupont? Their names are adapted according to sounds in the respective languages. Schulze und Schultze in German; Thomson and Thompson in English (whence the 80’s new romantic group the Thomson Twins took their name); Jansen en Jansens in Dutch, and so forth.

Captain Haddock (an Atlantic fish similar to cod), however, turns out to be the most international of the characters by keeping his name. The deaf and absent-minded Professeur Tryphon Tournesol (Professor Sunflower) becomes Silvestre Tornasol (Sylvester Sunflower) in Spanish, Professor Bienlein (Professor Littlebee) in German, Cuthbert Calculus in English and Zonnebloem in Dutch.