Help: German Title for French Fried

The new German edition of French Fried is nearing completion – estimated publication date: July, 2012 – and I’m looking for a title. All suggestions welcome.

It doesn’t have to be a straight translation of the existing title which, after all, is a play on words in English and probably wouldn’t translate well anyway. What I’m looking for is something eye-catching and funny. The English version has the subtitle ‘One man’s move to France with too many animals and an identity thief,’ which I’d like to replicate.

So I’m thinking ‘Ein Frankreichumzug mit zuvielen Tieren, und einem Identitätsdieb’ might do the trick as the subtitle. Now the question is, is it strong enough and eye-catching enough on its own or does it need a short title to go with it?

One suggestion is Wir sind Engländer: Ein Frankreichumzug mit zuvielen Tieren, und einem Identitätsdieb which is close to the original title of Nous Sommes Anglais.

I’m looking for other suggestions.

For those not familiar with the book it’s a fun ‘moving to France’ memoir with lots of animals behaving badly and then – when my identity is stolen and our life savings liquidated – we find ourselves abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insist the crime belongs in another country’s jurisdiction. So I have to solve the case myself. Which I do, driving back and forth across the Pyrenees, tracking down faxes, interviewing bar staff and bank managers. But, unlike fictional detectives, I have an 80 year-old mother-in-law and an excitable puppy who insist they come along if I’m going anywhere interesting – like a stakeout.

It’s been a bestseller in the UK, US and France (where it entered the top 100 of all ebooks sold in France even though it was written in English!) and now I’m hoping it’ll do well in Germany. It’s also part of our continuing Book View Cafe experiment. We’ve published over 150 books so far, now we’re looking at foreign language editions. I’m not sure if French Fried will be our first – I’m looking at you, Sherwood:) – but I’m sure it won’t be our last.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals.

An Unsafe Pair of Handsa quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?

Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.

What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!
French Fried true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth
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Help: German Title for French Fried — 14 Comments

  1. That sounds really, really bland. From what I can tell, Germans like catchy titles, maybe with a pun in it to indicate humor. Ask a German speaker, maybe?

    • Sherwood, the first problem is that puns in German are much harder, and the obvious ones have already been stuck onto other books.

      ‘Wir sind Engländer’ might not be the catchiest title, but the ‘quote from the life of’ type of title seems to be fairly common, according to Amazon, as is the ‘catchy phrase plus explanatory subtitle’, and the juxtaposition of ‘Englishmen in France’ pretty much suggests the feel of the book and what might be expected.

      (You might get more specific by substituting ‘Ein Umzug in die Pyrenäen’ for merely moving to France)

      But casting the net wider: what do people think is the funniest moment in the book, the image that really stuck with them?

      • Good thoughts, Green Knight.
        I think the funniest moment is one of the most vivid images–the picture of the family with that gigantic group of animals, laboring to get into France, with no cooperation from vehicles or the weather. Is there a good German title having to do with the zoo full of animals?

      • Maybe if something like “Pardon, wir sind Engländer” was added? So it’s clear it is a fish-out-of-water experience at first? Or Excusez moi or whatever? My French knowledge is 25 years old and I only had three years at school, heh.

  2. Frittiert auf Französisch would at least be intriguing and alliterative – but I guess it doesn’t give ANY clue at all about the book itself. The subtitle should be there but it is too long to be a perfect title.

    Maybe Cora Buhlert, who does translations, would have more insight? I just teach English and immerse myself in it.

    If the word was still well known I’d love Französische Fisimatenten oder Fisimatenten in Frankreich ^^ – but truthfully most Germans don’t use that expression any more.

    • Ooh, Fisimatenten would have been a good one – but looking at Google it appears to be entirely unused these days.

      For this type of book, the title – catchphrase + longer subtitle – appear to work to make people sufficiently curious.

      Hm.
      Französisch mit Spickzettel: Zwei Engländer, ein Identitätsdieb und zu viele Tiere?

      • Französisch mit Spickzettel: Zwei Engländer, ein Identitätsdieb und zu viele Tiere?

        I like this one, but think “Identitätsdieb” is not working in German (see my post below). You might want to try “Hochstapler” instead. That sounds right here in this sentence – but I am not sure if “Hochstapler” fits what you mean.

  3. I think Wir sind Engländer as main title well enough. Excusez-moi, wir sind Engländer is better, though (warning: my French can not be trusted).

    For the subtitle: Ein Frankreichumzug mit zuvielen Tieren, und einem Identitätsdieb – first part sounds correct and interesting, but Identitätsdieb isn’t something you would normally say in German. You can – but it has no clearly defined meaning attached to it people would recognize outside very specialised discourse. I advise against it. Sadly, there are no really good alternatives – my boyfriend and I thought very hard but didn’t come up with a German noun for an identity thief. I don’t think you can translate it literally.

    Some ideas of my own:

    Mit zu vielen Tieren nach Frankreich — direkt in einen Kriminalfall

    Unser neues Leben in den Pyrenäen — mit zu vielen Tieren und einem Kriminalfall

    Ausgewandert mit Hund und Katz, Pferd und Esel, vielen weiteren Tieren — und direkt in einen Kriminalfall!

    suggestion 1 is quite straightforward.
    suggestion 2 leans towards the whole genre of emigration memoirs which are very popular in Germany (I believe), starting with the phrase “Unser neues Leben” – “our new life in…”. Every reader instantly knows what it is about. But it might be a bit too tacky for your purpose.
    suggestion 3 emphasises the amount of animals… Hund und Katz is a very common phrase, putting two other animals beind it (obviously it depends on the animals you brought…) sounds cheeky at least in my ears.
    I think the more vague “Kriminalfall”, criminal case, conveys that part of the story and distinguishes the book from other emigration memoirs. Should make people curious.

    Well, I hope that helps. Some more German first-language speakers might be needed to advice properly.

    • Lots of useful suggestions, thank you.

      How about something like:
      Wer hat mein neues Leben?: Ein Frankreichumzug mit zuvielen Tieren, und einem Identitätsdieb

      Who’s got my new life?: A move to France with too many animals and an identity thief.

      • I like that suggestion – but I am also of the opinion that Identitätsdieb is a bit dodgy. However, I have no useful other suggestion, heh.

      • Wer hat mein neues Leben?

        Alternatively,

        Wer hat mein Leben geklaut?
        (Who stole my life?)

        On the whole, I think these put too much emphasis on the identity thief part of the book – and I think it downplays the memoir aspect which is at least of equal importance.

    • I like ‘und einem Kriminalfall’ tremendously – and while ‘Identitätsdieb’ is a backformation from ‘Identitätsdiebstahl’ [which gets almost a million google hits] and uncommon I don’t think readers will have trouble parsing it. (I don’t like it very much, but Hochstapler really isn’t the right word; it’s too old-fashioned, too genteel, and it’s a different crime.

      Kriminalfall on the other hand has the right connotations.

      (And maybe it says something about me, but I was kind of disappointed when the ‘too many animals’ turned out to be one horse, one dog, and two cats – call that too many? Hah! [The thousands of caterpillars, on the other hand…])

  4. After some contemplation and reading your added posts, I think my overall favourite is “Excusez-moi, wir sind Engländer. Unser neues Leben in Frankreich – mit zu vielen Tieren und einem Kriminalfall”.

    But “Französisch mit Spickzettel” as main title is equally nice. It instantly invites all of us to sympathise who only managed French in school with lots of “Spickzettel”… I assume many German share this feeling (like I do).

    “Wer hat mein neues Leben?” I do like, but it only works with some explanation in the subtitle, and I am still firm that “Identitätsdieb” is weird in German. You are right, Green Knight, that “Identitätsdiebstahl” is common in legal terminology and thus used in media coverage but when you google “Identitätsdieb” all the results lead to quite dodgy websites – not one proper newspaper or magazine there, most hits look to me like inept translations of the English “identity thief” by people not firm in their own language.

    Hope we could help somewhat! If you need yet another German proofreader, I hereby volunteer 🙂