The Last Airbender

Certain fans of the original cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” may be disappointed when they see the movie adaptation.  Since you’re reading a language-related site, you probably already know where this is going.

If you’ve watched the cartoon, you know that Chinese characters were used throughout to give the show both a sense of identity and connection to our own world in the form of Asian languages and cultures.  As you can see, even the title is rendered in Chinese as  降世神通, which means “Avatar” (lit: “divine medium who has descended upon the mortal world”).

For some reason, though, the makers of the movie version have opted to take out all of the Chinese (save for a brief reference to “qi” and “yin and yang”) and have instead decided to use nonsensical Asianesque characters.

Why this decision was made is unfathomable.  In doing so, they basically destroyed all of the linguistic and cultural links that were established in the cartoon series.  This is not something they can just undo in the sequel that is sure to come.

Dr. S. L. Lee, calligrapher for the cartoon series, is certainly not pleased.