Is it a Game or is it Real? WarGames Quotes in Mandarin

After signing up for MOD (the Taiwanese internet TV service) I discovered that one of the channels, Fox Family Movies, broadcast every movie in both its original language (usually English) and also Mandarin. The rarity of Mandarin dubs in Taiwan (most Taiwanese prefer subtitles) made this a valuable find for a Mandarin student such as myself.

If I’m honest, most of the movies aren’t that good and are of the ‘made for TV’ variety, though every few weeks a gem pops up such as WarGames (Groundhog Day, the Ghostbusters duology and Pixar animations are among other good finds). WarGames was one of my favourite movies as a kid, and as it’s full of so many memorable quotes I thought I’d take this opportunity to pull out the Mandarin versions and see how they translate. If you’re a fan of the movie you’re sure to remember these.

Reproduction Without Sex

First, the classic line that gets David kicked out of class, giving him a chance to discover the latest password to sneak into the school grading system:

Reproduction without sex

Mr Liggett:
wúxìngfánzhí de gàiniàn shì sheí xiān tí chū lái de?
Who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex?

Nǐ de lǎopó?
Your wife?

This example is an interesting one as the word order is almost completely reversed in the Chinese translation. A direct re-translation of the Chinese back into English would be “Reproduction without sex idea was who first suggested it?”. Fun 吧?


The first time WOPR greets David, incorrectly assuming he’s Falken:

Greetings Professor Falken

nǐ hǎo, fǎ kěn jiàoshòu
Greetings Professor Falkan

Doesn’t have the same ring in Chinese, does it?

Global Thermonuclear War

David innocently asks to play Global Thermonuclear War:

Global Thermonuclear War

lái wán quánqiú rè hé zhànzhēng hǎo ma?
How about Global Thermonuclear War?

Finally I know how to say ‘Global Thermonuclear War’ in Chinese!

Win the Game

WOPR lets David know that it means business:

To Win the Game

shénme shì zhǔyào mùbiāo?
What’s the primary goal?
To win the game

Is it a Game?

Possibly the most classic Wargames line:

Is it a game, or is it real?

zhè shì yóuxì, háishì zhēn de?
Is it a game, or is it real?
zhè yǒu shéme chābié?
What’s the difference?

The Only Winning Move…

WOPR realises that war is futile:

The Only Winning Move

wéiyī yíng de fāngfǎ jiùshì búyào wán
The only wining move is not to play

Game of Chess

How About a Nice Game of Chess

yàobúyào lái xià yīpán?
How about a nice game of chess?

Here the verb to play chess is 下棋, with 一盘 being the quantifier for one game.

It was great to be able to watch one of my favourite childhood movies in Mandarin, and the dub was actually pretty good at that. If I come across any other classics worth quoting I’ll be sure to post them up.

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