For a title starting with "The" such as "The Wall", how would one translate it while still conveying the same significance? A literal translation such as「壁」does not seem to carry the same significance, as it could describe any wall, or walls, plural. Is there another way of translating such a thing?

  • 2
    The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock is 鳥 in Japanese.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 23, 2022 at 4:05
  • 5
    I think the short answer is a language without articles doesn’t see the need.
    – aguijonazo
    Oct 23, 2022 at 12:46
  • 2
    – Pablo H
    Oct 24, 2022 at 13:31

3 Answers 3


I don't think there is a set formula, except for transliterations such as ザ・ロック for The Rock. Translators come up with creative and different ways to "translate" titles. I say "translate" with quotes, because it's not rare for a translated film to have an entirely different title.

An extreme case of transliteration:

  • ザ・ロング・アンド・ワインディング・ロード for The Long and Winding Road

It looks like older film titles tend to have creative translations.

  • 現金(げんなま)に体を張れ for The Killing

Movie titles are not always translated literally, but 壁 is perfectly fine if a literal translation is to be used. People will usually think it's about some special and important wall. Even if the movie is about many walls, there is nothing wrong with using 壁 as the title.

Something like その壁 or この壁 might be used if you absolutely need to say "THAT Wall", but such titles are rare. After all, why does a title have to include information that is not necessary even in a long Japanese sentence? What information needs to be included depends on the language, and in this case, trying to include the significance of "the" without adding anything else will only make the title look unnatural in Japanese.


Depending on the context, you could try something like "Great Wall", using the "Ō" prefix.

  • Why the downvote? This makes sense in some contexts (as stated in the answer), such as in Aikido. "The master" which would be the founder of the martial art is referred to as 大先生 in Japanese.
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 23, 2022 at 23:57
  • @jarmanso7 Because there's no systematic correspondence between おお+X in Japanese and "The X" in English when it comes to titles. If we took the poster's suggestion for 壁, we would come up with something that already has a particular non-compositional meaning.
    – jogloran
    Oct 24, 2022 at 4:00
  • @jogloran. I didn't say there was a systematic correspondence. I said "Depending on the context". Though I grant that 大壁 is already a word; I guess I should have looked that up first. But there are other cases where 大+X isn't a word and it might help you get your message across.
    – sonicsuns
    Oct 25, 2022 at 0:20

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