Today, it was revealed that one of my work colleagues is a big fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. You know, the main character from that children’s TV-show about the sea sponge that lives beneath the ocean surface with his best friend Patrick the starfish. As my work colleague is Italian she informed us that the English name is used even in the Italian version. This got us discussing what the name is translated into in different languages. Apparently, the Danish and Swedish names were particularly funny as they got our whole international team laughing out loud. Loud laughter is always nice I thought and decided to research what name this popular sponge goes under in additional languages and then write about it here.
So, I found the names in the different languages here and then translated them into English with the help of Google Translate. Interestingly enough or maybe expectedly, when putting the whole name into the translation field I always got SpongeBob SquarePants as the result. Therefore, I had to type the words in one by one. Many languages, including Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Croatian all simply translated it into “SpongeBob SquarePants” even word by word. In other words, they make up the boring list.
There were some languages, however, that had their own little “touch” to the name. In particular, I like the Arabic one “SpongeBob Squarepence” which must originate from a mishearing of pants that made it into pence. How logical is that really? As far as I’m aware he never uses any square coins in the series but he actually has square pants. Well, not entirely square I suppose since parts of them cover the legs. Our uncompromising German friends have paid notice to this with their “SpongeBob Schwammkopf”. I can imagine how the reasoning went: “We refuse to call him Square pants since his pants are not completely square. However, his head is square and made up of sponge so we’ll call him Sponge head”.
To the defence of the Germans it should be said that the Swedish, Danish and Serbian also follow this reasoning and simply call him “SpongeBob Square”. However, I guess this depends partly on the fact that the word for square in at least Swedish and Danish is too long and wouldn’t fit into the theme song. The Chinese have to do their “cute thing” and call him “Spongebaby” or “Spongedarling” while the Lithuanian do the opposite and name him “SpongeBob Shooter”. The Bulgarian Spontaneous Square Surface Pants is just crazy and the Greeks with their “Bob SpongeBob” show their love for the name Bob.
Some who don’t seem to like the name Bob are the Finns. All other languages call him Bob. The Finns go against the stream and call him Paavo Pesusieni (Paavo Sponge). The only connection I can see there is that there are many Finnish politicians named Paavo. Whether this hints at any similarities between Finnish politicians and sea sponges I will not speculate further in here.