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Red Sea Sharks: What does “Coke en Stock” mean?

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#21 · Posted: 15 Oct 2004 10:17
The Red Sea Sharks pretty much means the gangsters of the red sea or similar in lines. Since you see the same reference in the lake of sharks. Though the comic title that looks wierd to me is "The Calculus Affair". It sounds as if Calculus has an affair =p

I think "The Seven Crystal Balls" is the most suitable title given in comparison to all Tintin Albums. It has so much information relevant to the story yet keeps a mystery to the new reader.
Harrock n roll
#22 · Posted: 15 Oct 2004 13:46
theone said
The Red Sea sharks is directly mentioned in the book. Although there are no actual sharks, at one point someone calls the "badguys" I think, sharks, or maybe the other way around. But they do call them sharks and that's where the name comes from.

The only direct reference to sharks that I can see in this book is aboard the Ramona (page 42) when Allan says "don't forget we're in the Red Sea, and there's no shortage of sharks... you get me?", and of course a real shark saves the day by swallowing the limpet mine.

Also, Rastapopoulos' escape vessel does bear some resemblance to a shark. When they next meet again in Flight 714 he says "you thought Rastapopoulos was eaten by the Red Sea sharks, eh?"
#23 · Posted: 16 Oct 2004 00:27 · Edited by: theone
I could've sworn I remembered Haddock yelling something along the line of "those dirty sharks" or something like that....but I guess I'm wrong.

My favourite title was The Calculus Affair. And it couldn't mean the Calculus Affair beacuse if it was just "Calculus Affair" it might be suspicious (because Affair means Something done or to be done; business."), but the title is intriguing and sound dramatic - and that title drawing is really great. The best cover and title put together in all Tintin books, in my opinion. The worst title, aside from those Tintin in Congo and Tintin in America ones, is probably Explorers on The Moon. It didn't seem very mysterious to me.
#24 · Posted: 17 Aug 2005 21:05 · Edited by: Moderator
I think the original French title pretty much explains itself on the page 48 during the conversation between captain and the villain. That's the code word the slave traders are using.

I think it's one of the best titles, because it's so ordinary, it's actually very mysterious.

Instead of telling us something about the story or the scenery, it really doesn't reveal anything to the reader. Very similar to what theone said about The Calculus Affair, except for one extra point: after reading the book it reminds the reader about the theme of the book, the horrendous practice of slave trade that should be abolished at last.

Unfortunately the Finnish title translates into English as The Adventure in the Red Sea, which is probably appealing to an 8-year old but appears quite boring after you've read the series through dozens of times.
#25 · Posted: 18 Aug 2005 16:36
In the Brazilian Portuguese version the title is 'Perdidos no Mar' = 'Lost at Sea' which is really vague and lame (and not particulalry relevant). Curiously, in the European Portuguese it is 'Carvão no Porão' which is roughly 'Coke on Board' like the original.
#26 · Posted: 19 Aug 2005 00:47
Looking at the previous postings, it looks like the English translation is the oddball. It appears to be the only one referring to sharks (almost no reference to such, unless you make a distant connection with a rogue submarine; one could also think of sharks as people who prey on others, although that'd require more age and education to perfectly understand that). We (readers of English-language Tintin books) could have had "'Coke' on Board", because the book at the bottom line is concerned with slavery. My only caveat is how readers might react to the use of the word "coke"! We could discuss this further in the thread "Alternative Titles of Tintin" (link to come soon)...
#27 · Posted: 20 Aug 2005 10:42 · Edited by: Moderator
Maybe one of the reasons why the English title was changed was the British/American need (greater than anywhere else, it seems) to be politically correct. Rereading the comics, I was actually quite surprised that Archie, who I love dearly, can be very racist at times- as well as his famous "Arrest that Negro!" line in The Crab with the Golden Claws and calling him a 'black bird' (amongst other things), in The Red Sea Sharks he actually calls the pilgrims "Addle-pated lumps of anthracite" (or something similar) to their faces. I know this is more a reflection of his tendency to use colourful language than racism on his or Hergé's part, but it does seem questionable.

Anyway... sorry for wandering off topic. Maybe the title change was an attempt on the translators' part to distance themselves from the implied racism in the use of the word 'coke'?
It's not surprising that Alan and Co., being bad guys, should be racists and categorize people in terms of their colour and view them as cargo, but this would not be a desirable message to promote to readers - not least young children reading the story for the first time.
So by changing it to the seemingly less relevant but also less problematic Red Sea Sharks, they averted this dilemma...

And yes, The Calculus Affair does seem strange if you're not used to the word being used in that context (and one of my fan fictions is called The Calculus Wedding in deliberate homage to that), but reading around political intrigues, it is often used e.g. the Dreyfus Affair. And besides, would young kids know what the adulterous meaning of the word was?
#28 · Posted: 22 Aug 2005 16:52
Titles in different languages:

English - Red Sea Sharks
French - Coke en stock
Afrikaans - Die Haaie van die Rooi See
Asturian - Stock de Cok
Basque - Ikatz stocka
Bengali - Lohit Sagarer Hangar
Brazilian Portugese - Perdidos do mar
Breton - Rinkined ar mor ruz
Catalan - Stoc de coc
Chinese (Mandarin) - Hong hai sha yü
Danish - Koks i lasten
Dutch - Cokes in voorraad
Farsi - Kusih, ha-yi darya-yi surkh
Finnish - Seikkailu punaisella merell'a'
Galician - Stock de coque
German - Kohle an Bord
Greek - Karvouna sto Ampari
Hebrew - Krishey Ha'yam Ha 'daom
Icelandic - Kolafarmurinn
Indonesian - Hiu-hiu laut merah
Italian - Coke in stock
Japanese - Koukai no same
Norwegian - Koks i lasten
Portuguese - Carvão no porão
Spanish - stock de coque
Swedish - Koks i lasten
Turkish - Ambardaki kömür
Vietnamese - Ca map vung hong hai

Mostly, these seem be derived from the French title. The German one certainly is (I speak It), as are presumably the Basque, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Galician, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. The only one that appears to derive from the English is the Afrikaans version.
#29 · Posted: 22 Aug 2005 18:53
It looks like English is the language that is really different from the others. At the same time, however, since political correctness is uniquely American, we'd expect only American books to have the title "The Red Sea Sharks" while those in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, etc. using "Coke in Stock". Sensitivities probably only explain part of the story in the deviation of English. Any other possible suggestions? Could there be something with Coca Cola?
#30 · Posted: 27 Aug 2005 00:17
The title change to Red Sea Sharks was purely and simply a matter of marketing - it was judged to be more exciting.

Michael Turner wanted the books to have the best chance of being successful, and his opinion (as an authority in UK publishing) was that Coke on Board or somesuch just didn’t have the all-important appeal which a book needs to have to be a winner. The same applies to Prisoners of the Sun rather than Temple - it’s just more gripping.

He talked about it at Greenwich.

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