Created By: norsicnumber2nd on October 8, 2012 Last Edited By: Quag15 on August 11, 2013
Troped

Reality Has No Subtitles

When captioning isn't used... because if they can't get it, neither should we.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

At any point when a foreign language is spoken (with the exception of the occasional word where the meaning has become almost universal, i.e. 'Bonjour', 'Gracias' etc.) and not given captions. So, it's untranslated and - when you don't speak the lingo - you have to take a stab at the definition from the context, body language, or some really not-so-vivid hand dancing.

When subtitles are given, they're in the foreign language (when you put subtitles on - cheers, that helps). This also includes when someone is so drunk or crazy (or an Ewok) that you need subtitles to understand the sounds they're making and, of course, when a foreigner curses (and such) in their native tongue.

For conversations - or a section thereof - to fit this, it is that because of the language (including dialect and/or accent) you don't get the words, rather than (as with "It's all Greek to me") because of the words you don't get the language.

Entire conversations that are foreign but uncaptioned are rarer. Basically, if something should be subtitled for the other characters - and most importantly the audience - to understand, but it isn't.

The opposite of this would be where a word or phrase in a foreign language is used and subtitled, but we all know what it means.

Compare Fun with Subtitles. This is related to Bilingual Bonus and often the result of a Language Barrier.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comic books]]
  • Used in early issues of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book, where Chinese people were given dialog in Chinese with no translation for this reason.
  • In a How To Get Fired comic strip about Doctors, the man who always gets fired is the only one with a speech bubble in actual words, saying "improve our handwriting?", as all the other Doctors' speech bubbles are illegible scribbles.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • The Black Widow (and other Russians) in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers is a good example, as well as when Dr Banner is in India and there are no captions for the people there. In some showings of the film, there were subtitles, but not in all showings. There are none on the DVD, either.
  • In Mr. Bean's Holiday, that French kid and the man's short film. Anything that Mr Bean can't understand is untranslated, but thankfully rather irrelevant to the story.
  • Half of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, i.e. whenever Cristina and/or Vicky are around the Spanish who don't speak English.
  • In The Guns of Navarone:
    • Captain Mallory talks on the phone with the Nazi guard commander while pretending to be a Nazi sentry. The entire dialogue between them is in German with no translation (but from their facial expressions and intonations you can generally figure out what they're saying).
    • When the Nazi E-boat stops the fishing boat the protagonists are on, Captain Mallory pretends to be the skipper and speaks in Greek to both the E-boat captain and his own crew. Again, he uses gestures and facial expressions to make his meaning clear to the audience.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, while the Merovingian is giving his speech about how French is his favorite language, he speaks a long phrase in French (which is actually a string of curse words) with no translation.
  • Trainspotting has both the foreign slang and the incomprehensibility.
  • Lost in Translation is heavy handed in this, but it works for the movie's story. When two Americans are stuck in Japan for different reasons, and can't speak the native language, they start to feel very isolated, especially in a culture so foreign to the West. Having characters speak in Japanese without offering any subtitles emphasizes the isolation both of them feel, and how alien it could be in that world without anyone around to communicate with.
  • It is famously used in The Third Man to emphasize how totally out to sea the American main character is when he visits Vienna.
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop could walk this line, depending on the version you're watching. (The film is 'bilingual', dealing with a Quebec cop and an Ontario cop.) For the English version, though, the scene with the French coroner is untranslated and passes by quickly. The French cop later admits he didn't understand what was said, either.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Ewoks in Return of the Jedi are incomprehensible to all but some of the characters who share the screen with them.
    • Done to quite an irritating extent in The Star Wars Holiday Special, where the first chunk of the special is a family of Wookies speaking to each other without subtitles nor with an outside English-speaking character to react to them.
    • In The Phantom Menace, whatever young Anakin says to the Hutts is untranslated.
    • In A New Hope the Sandpeople have their own language, too.
    • Throughout the franchise, Chewbacca and R2-D2 are comprehensible mainly to only their counterparts, Solo and C-3PO.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Ghost Dog's best friend is a french-speaking icecream seller who isn't subbed because Ghost Dog doesn't understand the language.
  • In The Passion of the Christ the original plan was to have no subtitles during the whole film. Remember, the entire film is in Aramaic and Latin. Luckily, this idea was scrapped.
  • In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar signs that Will should ask Caroline out to dinner. This is left untranslated as Caroline can't understand the signs used.
  • In the 1982 film The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Edward James Olmos plays the title character and speaks in untranslated Spanish throughout the film. This was done at Olmos's suggestion to emphasize the isolation Cortez felt as a Mexican outlaw in south Texas during the early 20th century.
  • In The Hobbit Elvish speech is subtitled in all instances but one: when the dwarves arrive in Rivendell, Elrond (after speaking with Gandalf) looks at them and says something in Elvish. The dwarves (who don't speak Elvish, as Elves vs. Dwarves is in full effect) bristle and ask if he offers them insults, but Gandalf quickly intervenes and says he's offering them supper. Of course, Elrond speaks the Common Speech just fine, so he's probably just messing with them.
  • In The Usual Suspects, the police have to hire a translator to interview a victim of The Caper and miss an important piece of evidence because the translator botches his translation.
  • The Peacemaker has long segments of untranslated Russian dialog, which subtitles helpfully refer to as "[Men speaking in Russian]".
  • Hudson Hawk. While Hudson is ordering food at a restaurant he speaks in Italian. At the end of the order he asks for some ketchup and the waiter walks away complaining about the uncultured American. None of their Italian dialogue is subtitled.
  • The independent Russian film The Cuckoo is entirely about this: A Finnish man and a Russian man are stranded together in the wilderness with a local woman. All three can only speak and understand their native language, guessing what the others are saying through body language and emotions. The DVD release gave the option to watch with or without subtitles, though it's understandable without them--even if what they're saying is not entirely clear that way.
  • Red Tails has some fun with this. Since there's a Language Barrier between Lightning and his girlfriend Sofia, her Italian is un-subtitled. At the same time, when the German ace "Pretty Boy" talks to his compatriots his German is subtitled.
  • Superman II. When the astronaut Boris first meets General Zod on the Moon, he says several words of untranslated Russian to him (presumably it was the equivalent of "Who are you and what are you doing here?").
  • Big Trouble in Little China. While David Lo Pan is interrogating Wang Chi and Jack Burton, he speaks in Chinese to Wang Chi with no translation for the audience. Whatever he said, it sounded threatening.
  • Pitch Black: Abu al-Walid, Ali, Hassan and Suleiman on their way to New Mecca aren't subtitled when whey speak or pray in Arabic, and they speak English when they talk with the other people.
  • You Only Live Twice:
    • Tiger Tanaka speaks untranslated Japanese to his underlings several times.
    • James Bond is about to have his chest hair dyed black as part of his Japanese disguise. He says "Why don't you just dye the parts that show?" His Bond Girl Aki repeats this in Japanese to the female Japanese attendants (who apparently don't speak English) and they all laugh.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph Q*Bert's speech is that of the videogames, even when Felix is using it. The rest of the Nicelandians are clueless behind.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Radek would occasionally rant in Czech about something with no subtitles provided.
  • There are episodes in Season 1 of popular drama Revenge where Emily speaks languages including French and Spanish without translation (though these aren't relevant besides telling us she's multilingual) and in one episode, where she repeatedly converses with another character in fluent Japanese, she then lies about what was said, and there is no captioning.
  • In the miniseries version of Shogun, when Blackthorne (the English protagonist) is around and the Japanese characters are speaking in Japanese, there's no subtitles.
  • In the first season of Lost, Korean couple Sun and Jin would speak among themselves, and the show would provide English subtitles. But when they spoke in front of others who did not understand Korean, no subtitles appeared.
  • In Monty Python's Flying Circus "The Funniest Joke in the World" sketch, the British Army creates a German version of the Joke so they can use it against Nazi troops. There's no translation (mainly because the German version is made up of nonsense words). Good thing, too -- understanding it would kill the audience!
  • In an episode of Absolutely Fabulous, Patsy and Edina go to France on vacation. Three times an old man comes to the door and speaks in French; they're frightened of him, and keep just closing the door and ignoring him. Edina's daughter, who speaks French, shows up at the end, and it turns out they've been staying in a run-down cottage instead of the fancy château they had booked, and the old man was trying to tell them that.
  • Many characters on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show fall foul of this, speaking no language at all and, being puppets, they don't have captions - or didn't originally.
  • In the TV movie Canada Russia 72 about the famous hockey tournament, Canadian player Bobby Clarke says "Eat s***, you little c***s*****" to Soviet star Valeri Kharlamov as he skates by. Kharlamov responds with something in Russian and Clarke sneers "What does that mean?"
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall becomes so drunk to the point that he needs subtitles... which are provided for barely some of the speech.
  • Breaking Bad does this with most, if not all, of its Spanish dialogue.
  • Firefly uses this when various Chinese curses are spoken, and you can tell that they're curses from the context.
  • In Casualty 1906, a disagreeable Eastern European woman was being treated by the Edwardian doctors while behaving violently and probably being drunk. A Polish speaker would know what nationality she was supposed to be and could understand what she was saying however, on the DVD, the subtitles gave the untranslated text in Russian - people who don't know the difference would be none the wiser from the English dialogue on-screen.
  • Stargate SG-1 didn't ever use subtitles, which was probably a good thing considering most of the Russian spoken on the show would've punched huge holes in the fourth wall.
  • Played With in the Coupling episode, "The Woman with Two Breasts". The Israeli woman that Jeff is talking to speaks no English, and no subtitles are provided because he, like we, has no real idea what she's saying. Then, in the second half, when the whole sequence is run again with her speaking English and Jeff speaking nonsense, we again get no subtitles, and have to rely on our memories of what his side of the conversation was. Plus, we get to find out that some of his assumptions about what she was saying were...less than accurate.
  • Barney Miller:
    • In one episode they bring in a woman who everyone thinks is crazy (she escaped from a mental asylum where she's been held ever since she first arrived in the country 20ish years previously) and speaking her own made-up language. It turns out she is perfectly sane; she's just speaking a rare Macedonian dialect. The squad happens to find someone who speaks Macedonian to commuicate with her. None of the Macedonian is subtitlted.
    • Chano's frequent lapsing into Spanish when annoyed or upset isn't subtitled.
  • Several one-shot and minor foreign characters in Seinfeld spoke fluent, uninterrupted languages of their respective nationalities, occasionally without the aid of subtitles, such as The Soup Nazi, and Kramer's Hispanic friend that showed up for one episode and was never spoken of again, relying on the Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama, as they can fluently speak English if need be.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]

In Henry V, an entire scene between Catherine and her lady-in-waiting is conducted in French.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Zig-zagged in the first game. If Altair runs into any of the locals while walking about, several may speak English (translated by the Animus) but whenever he runs into guards, especially when rescuing a person, he may quote something that never gets translated.
    • The guards may quote something in either Arabic or French depending on which region you are in, though sometimes they may speak English as well.
  • In the Mothership Zero DLC for Fallout 3, the player character is abducted by aliens whose language is never translated. The aliens' motivation and reasons for abducting humans can therefore only be inferred (and it makes them a whole lot creepier). Additionally, another abductee is a samurai who speaks in un-subtitled Japanese.
  • Max Payne 3 plays around with this. Max Payne doesn't speak Portuguese, so for most of the game you have no idea what the people around you are saying. Occasionally though, Max will catch a cognate, such as amadores (amateurs), and react to it.
  • Spec Ops: The Line uses this in the opening to increase tension. You don't understand any of the Farci being spoken.
  • In Final Fantasy X the Al Bhed language is subtitled - only the subtitles are in Al Bhed, not English. As you collect translation books throughout the game, various letters in the subtitles are gradually replaced by their English equivalents to represent Tidus' growing understanding of the language.
  • In Deus Ex:
  • Sleeping Dogs has a bunch of "peppering Cantonese cuss words into English" and background NPCs who speak basically accurate but unsubtitled Cantonese, though Mrs. Chu is the only plot-relevant character to only speak Cantonese.
  • The World of Warcraft Draenei starting zone involves the player befriending a tribe of anthropomorphic bears called furbolgs (the Stillpine tribe.) Initially, the player can't speak their language, so the NPC text is untranslatable gibberish.
  • Nikolai in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 speaks in Russian, as do some of the soldiers, and it is not subtitled like the English is (though the English can be heard perfectly fine anyway).
  • In Knights of the Old Republic 2, Darth Nihilus' speech (in the ancient Sith language) is left untranslated in subtitles and the player character doesn't seem to be able to understand him either, despite her ability to understand a wide variety of alien languages.
  • The humans in Asura's Wrath speak a different language from the Demigods with no subtitles. This is used to show how out of touch they have become over the millennia.
  • Halfway through Uncharted 2, Drake winds up in a small tibetan village. All "conversations" with the non-English speaking villagers are simply subtitled [Speaking Tibetan], even after Drake has learned to speak it. The effect of this is amplified by the fact that Tenzin, Drake's partner during these chapters, is one of those villagers.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
  • In Megatokyo, most Japanese is shown as English within angle brackets--except when non-Japanese-speaker Largo is the viewpoint character, in which case it is romanized, as he would hear it.
  • In Unsounded some kind of supernatural bird speaks to Sette. The Rant lampshades this: "Don't ask for a translation - Sette doesn't understand it so you shan't either!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Lady Rainicorn in Adventure Time speaks untranslated Korean.
  • Played With in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Tri-Stone Area". The characters speak in cave-man jibberish, and no sub-titles are given. Of course, if you know all the Catch Phrases, Running Gags and things that happen Once an Episode, you pretty much know what they're saying, just from the situation and inflections used. The authors break in in stop-motion animation, and talk about this:
    Jeff "Swampy" Marsh: Whoa, whoa, whoa. So--so they're just gonna be talking in "cave-talk"?
  • In the animated adaptation of Teen Titans, Guatemalan siblings Mas y Menos only speak Spanish and are not given subtitles. While this makes for some hilarious moments when interacting with their Spanish-illiterate team mates, they become comedy gold if you can actually understand them.


Community Feedback Replies: 91
  • October 8, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Basically, it needs a new name. Feel free to add/comment any options you think would be good. Name crowner here: [1].
  • October 9, 2012
    Stratadrake
    So what's the reason for starting the whole YKTTW over in a separate thread?
  • October 9, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    I'm not sure what version of The Avengers you saw but there were definitely subtitles in both those scenes. At Least when I watched it.
  • October 10, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^It needed a new name, simply.

    ^I've watched three versions: the American one, Avengers Assemble and the American Airways in-flight entertainment one. There are no subtitles in any of it.
  • October 10, 2012
    TheNinth
    The other problem is that the description is badly written.
  • October 10, 2012
    Stratadrake
    That's not a reason for dicsarding/restarting it afresh. Maybe if the title brainstorming was getting lost in all the commentary, but....
  • October 10, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Okay, question about the muppets one, I firstly knew the character as 'the crazy chef' and now as 'the drunk chef' - is he actually 'the Swedish chef'? He doesn't sound Swedish to me.
  • October 10, 2012
    mew4ever23
    Austin Powers in Goldmember played with this one, giving the characters subtitles while talking to a man speaking Japanese. They were washed out by the background.
  • October 10, 2012
    TheNinth
    Yes. That's part of the joke.
  • October 10, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^ That's Fun With Subtitles.
  • October 11, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^ I haven't seen it, I thought they meant that there are subtitles that you can't see (and @mew4ever23 just knew). Is it that the subtitles are purposefully messed up by the background? Because then there are subtitles (funny that). And it's, oddly, Fun With Subtitles, as you said.
  • October 11, 2012
    Stratadrake
    I haven't seen the example personally, I just read Fun With Subtitles and spotted the exact same example, and with enough context to see exactly what the joke being made was (the spoiler markup actually helped convey it).
  • October 11, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    @norsicnumber2nd Well, I just saw The Avengers on DVD, and then it had no subtitles. But in three times I watched it in theaters, that scene did have subtitles. I can even paraphrase to you what they were saying. Something along the lines of this:

    General: I bet this wasn't how you expected your night to go.
    Widow: I know exactly how the night planned to go. This is better.
    General: Where did General Lermentov say we were moving the tanks?
    Widow: I thought General Soholob was in charge of the export business.
    General: Soholob? He's (a patsy?)! Your outdated information betrays you. So the famous Black Widow turns out to be just another pretty face.
    Widow: You really think I'm pretty?
    General: (Memory's fuzzy, something about a message they want her to deliver) [Picks up pliers, in English] You may have to write it down. (Phone rings, butt-whupping ensues.)

    In India:
    Woman: Girl! What are you doing here?
    Girl: Is the doctor here? My papa is very sick! His eyes won't open! And...
    Banner: Hold on ...like them? (points to sick patients)
    Girl: (Nods) Papa...

    It might just be a flub of the DVD disabling ALL subtitles, unless they're equipped from the menu. I think that happened when I watched Captain America on DVD; it rendered formerly subtitled scenes to no longer have them.
  • October 12, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^ Even when I haven't seen the DVD, I saw two in cinemas (American version and Avengers Assemble) and the other on a flight, several times.

    I do remember the pretty bit. In one of the versions, they were saying that in English. Of course, the context helps (plus cognates and words that sounds about right and stuff) - and I'm sure there are versions that show subtitles; not that I've seen, though.

    I'm not saying I don't believe you, I'm just telling you that I haven't seen a version with subtitles.
  • October 12, 2012
    nitrokitty
    • In the animated adaptation of Teen Titans, Guatemalan siblings Mas y Menos only speak Spanish and are not given subtitles. While this makes for some hilarious moments when interacting with their Spanish-illiterate teammates, they become comedy gold if you can actually understand them.
  • October 12, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    @nitrokitty: You might want to add that the writers got some pretty strong swearing past the censors too!

    @norsicnumber: Hm, weird. Maybe you could add a note about that, that some showings had subtitles and others didn't.

    • The Passion Of The Christ: The original plan for the film was to have no subtitles during the whole movie. Remember, the entire film is in Aramaic and Latin. Luckily, this idea was scrapped.
  • October 13, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    more examples?
  • October 13, 2012
    bananasloth

    (Possibly all of it, I can't clearly remember a scene where it was captioned, but I can't be sure. Does anyone else know?)
  • October 14, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    The various Chinese curses used in Firefly. (You can tell they are curses of some sort, from the context.)
  • October 20, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Gibberish To The Ignorant and They Dont Speak Subtitle are level pegging at the name crowner (link at top of page).
  • October 21, 2012
    Sheora
    In Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Caesar signs that Will should ask Caroline out to dinner. This is left untranslated as Caroline can't understand the signs used. Will finally sheepishly tells her that Caesar is telling him to ask her out.
  • October 22, 2012
    m8e
    Bump for votes and better name.

    the crowner link again
  • December 2, 2012
    somerandomdude
    The World Of Warcraft Draenei starting zone involves the player befriending a tribe of anthropomorphic bears called furbolgs (the Stillpine tribe.) Initially, the player can't speak their language, so the NPC text is untranslatable gibberish.
  • December 2, 2012
    Surenity
    This is done to quite an irritating extent in the Star Wars Holiday Special, where the first chunk of the special is a family of Wookies speaking to each other without subtitles nor with an outside English-speaking character to react to them.
  • December 2, 2012
    DanielCase
    In the 1982 film The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Edward James Olmos plays the title character and speaks in untranslated Spanish throughout the film. This was done at Olmos's suggestion to emphasize the isolation Cortez felt as a Mexican outlaw in south Texas during the early 20th century.
  • December 4, 2012
    Crowqueen
    Live Action Television
    • In Casualty 1906, a disagreeable Eastern European woman was being treated by the Edwardian doctors, and behaving violently, probably drunk. A Polish speaker would know what nationality she was supposed to be and could understand what she was saying. However, on the DVD, the subtitles marked up the untranslated text as Russian - and people who don't know the difference would be none the wiser from the English dialogue onscreen.

    Incidentally, the use of the word 'Reality' is confusing. I would think a better title is something 'Untranslated Foreign Dialogue' - but then I'm not good at coming up with snappy, memorable titles at all.
  • December 4, 2012
    Lomerell
    Not a foreign language, but in Donnie Darko, English subtitles are omitted when Donnie walks up to Roberto Sparrow and she stands on tiptoe to whisper, "Everything on this earth dies alone." Donnie's dad asks what she said and the scene cuts without revealing (until later). New viewers will almost always ask prior viewers what she said.
  • December 4, 2012
    StarSword
    TV:
  • December 5, 2012
    lakingsif
    @Lomerell ^^, that comes under The Silent Whisper or whatever its called.
  • December 5, 2012
    Jaqen
    "In Stargate Atlantis, Radek would occasionally rant in Czech about something with no subtitles provided."

    Radek actor is Czech, but the character is Byelorussian.
  • December 6, 2012
    Lomerell
    @lakingsif what IS it called?
  • December 6, 2012
    m8e
  • December 6, 2012
    StarSword
    @Jaqen: Don't know where you're getting that. His page on the Stargate wiki very clearly states that Zelenka is from the Czech Republic, just like his actor David Nykl.
  • December 10, 2012
    lakingsif
    The top name is Reality Has No Subtitles anyway, so should it be left as that?
  • December 10, 2012
    troacctid
    Please fix the Example Indentation before launching this.
  • December 10, 2012
    lakingsif
    ^what problems are there and do we want it alphabetically?
  • December 10, 2012
    troacctid
  • December 11, 2012
    lakingsif
    Read it, don't see anything wrong; well maybe the way some are written, but they're indented correctly?
  • December 12, 2012
    troacctid
    Every double bullet is currently incorrect.

    ...Ugh, I'll just fix it for you. >_<

    I won't be there every time so I suggest re-reading it until you can figure out what the problem was.
  • December 13, 2012
    lakingsif
    Ah. It helped reading it with this page open too. And folders. Cheers.
  • December 13, 2012
    TooBah
    Played with in the Phineas And Ferb episode "Tri-Stone Area". The characters speak in cave-man jibberish, and no sub-titles are given. Of course, if you know all the CatchPhrases, RunningGags and things that happen Once An Episode, you pretty much know what they're saying, just from the situation and inflections used. The authors break in in stop-motion animation, and talk about this:
    Jeff "Swampy" Marsh: Whoa, whoa, whoa. So--so they're just gonna be talking in "cave-talk"?

  • December 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    The Hobbit: Elvish speech is subtitled in all instances but one: when the dwarves arrive in Rivendell, Elrond (after speaking with Gandalf) looks at them and says something in Elvish. The dwarves (who don't speak Elvish, as Elves Vs Dwarves is in full effect) bristle and ask if he offers them insults, but Gandalf quickly intervenes and says he's offering them supper.
  • December 13, 2012
    Nocturna
    The name crowner could use some more votes; there's currently a three-way tie for top name.
  • December 13, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    That Hobbit Film example makes me (continue to) wonder what Peter Jackson is thinking. Elrond is a 6500-year-old loremaster, and the books and PJ's own films have already established that Elrond speaks Common just fine.

    Maybe Elrond is messing with the Dwarves for a lark?
  • December 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    Probably. He speaks with them perfectly fine later.

  • December 30, 2012
    elwoz
    I'm not sure why this was discarded; it looks basically done apart from the name, and no one seems to be arguing that it's not a trope.
  • December 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Barney Miller:
      • In one episode they bring in a woman who everyone thinks is crazy (she escaped from a mental asylum where she's been held ever since she first arrived in the country 20ish years previously) and speaking her own made-up language. It turns out she is perfectly sane; she's just speaking a rare Macedonian dialect. The squad happens to find someone who speaks Macedonian to commuicate with her. None of the Macedonian is subtitlted.
      • Chano's frequent lapsing into Spanish when annoyed or upset isn't subtitled.
  • December 31, 2012
    Xtifr
    • Played with in the Coupling episode, "The Woman with Two Breasts". The Israeli woman that Jeff is talking to speaks no English, and no subtitles are provided because he, like we, has no real idea what she's saying. Then, in the second half, when the whole sequence is run again with her speaking English and Jeff speaking Hebrew, we again get no subtitles, and have to rely on our memories of what his side of the conversation was. Plus, we get to find out that some of his assumptions about what she was saying were...less than accurate.
  • January 1, 2013
    lakingsif
    Are there any better name suggestions?
  • January 1, 2013
    Specialist290
    Film
    • Used to further the plot in The Usual Suspects, where the police have to hire a translator to interview a victim of The Caper and miss an important piece of evidence because the translator botches his translation.
  • January 1, 2013
    SunnyV
  • January 1, 2013
    Tzintzuntzan
    About the Coupling example -- they don't have Jeff speak Hebrew the second time, they just have Jeff speak gibberish while she speaks English (the actor was told to just make any sounds he wanted).
  • January 2, 2013
    justanid
    • The Peacemaker has long segments of untranslated Russian dialog, which subtitles helpfully refer to as "[Men speaking in Russian]".
  • January 2, 2013
    ElCheViva
    In Knights Of The Old Republic 2, Darth Nihilus' speech (in the ancient Sith language) is left untranslated in subtitles and the player character doesn't seem to be able to understand him either, despite her ability to understand a wide variety of alien languages.
  • January 3, 2013
    Shippudentimes
    • Several one-shot and minor foregin in Seinfeld spoke fluent, uninterrupted languages of their respective nationalities, occasionally without the aid of subtitles, such as The Soup Nazi, and Kramer's Hispanic friend that showed up for one episode and was never spoken of again, relying on the Rule Of Funny and Rule Of Drama, as they can fluently speak English if need be.
  • January 3, 2013
    justanid
  • January 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Hudson Hawk. While Hudson is ordering food at a restaurant he speaks in Italian. At the end of the order he asks for some ketchup and the waiter walks away complaining about the uncultured American. None of their Italian dialogue is subtitled.
  • January 6, 2013
    m8e
    Was the arabic in Pitch Black subtitled?

    Was it arabic/some variety of it?
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump with threat to launch.
  • January 18, 2013
    ZombieAladdin
    • The independent Russian film The Cuckoo is entirely about this: A Finnish man and a Russian man are stranded together in the wilderness with a local woman. All three can only speak and understand their native language, guessing what the others are saying through body language and emotions. The DVD release gave the option to watch with or without subtitles, though it's understandable without them--even if what they're saying is not entirely clear that way.

    • This is a staple of silent films: Due to them being silent, you don't really know what they're saying, and most films during then used intertitles when absolutely necessary because it was expensive to edit them in. You had to discern what the characters were saying through their acting. I don't know if this is a proper example or not though, considering this applies to one's own language as well.
  • January 18, 2013
    StarSword
    You can bluelink the new trope Language Barrier somewhere in the description, I'm sure.

    Compare Fun With Subtitles.

    Film:
    • Red Tails has some fun with this. Since there's a Language Barrier between Lightning and his girlfriend Sofia, her Italian is un-subtitled. At the same time, when the German ace "Pretty Boy" talks to his compatriots his German is subtitled.
  • January 19, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^^ In silent films and melodramas there is so much over-acting and so little speech, mostly in your own language, they don't count. The speech has to be heard (or subtitled, for some video games and comics) but in a foreign language.

    To all: does this need a better title or launch as-is, I might improve the write-up.
  • January 19, 2013
    lakingsif
    I've added some more possibly alternate names to the crowner (link at top). I think whatever's at the top tomorrow'll win and I'll launch it.
  • January 27, 2013
    lakingsif
    You know, @Meta Four, if you have examples you can just reply in the thread like this. Like everybody else did.
  • January 27, 2013
    Nocturna
    ^ Nobody owns the draft; it's perfectly acceptable to edit examples directly into the draft, although because of the bad history feature it's generally also considered a good idea to leave a comment noting what you did.
  • January 30, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ I know that, but sometimes people mess more than you like and I don't know the history of tropers - some aren't the greatest editors ever.
  • January 30, 2013
    Nocturna
    Meta Four is one of the mods.
  • February 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • Superman II. When the astronaut Boris first meets General Zod on the Moon, he says several words of untranslated Russian to him (presumably it was the equivalent of "Who are you and what are you doing here?").
    • Big Trouble In Little China. While David Lo Pan is interrogating Wang Chi and Jack Burton, he speaks in Chinese to Wang Chi with no translation for the audience. Whatever he said, it sounded threatening.
  • February 19, 2013
    nitrokitty
    I think this needs to be cleaned up a bit before it's launched. A character speaking in a foreign language without subtitles isn't a trope, it's People Sit On Chairs. Speaking in a foreign language without subtitles when there were subtitles before is a trope, and we should restrict ourselves to only those examples.
  • February 19, 2013
    m8e
    ^eh, no? Why would it have to be subtitled before?

    Can someone check if the Swedish in this scene in titatic is subbed in the English/American versions. (The youtube video is taken from a swedish version, where the English is subbed but not the Swedish for obvious reason.)

    • Pitch Black: Abu al-Walid, Ali, Hassan and Suleiman that was on their way to new mecca isn't subtitled when whey speak or pray in arabic, they speak English when they talk with the other people.
  • February 19, 2013
    m8e
    I think the Swedish Chef example should be changed to subverted/averted or something. He doesn't speak Swedish, it's just some Swedish sounding gibberish.
  • March 2, 2013
    TBTabby
    The humans in Asura's Wrath speak a different language from the Demigods with no subtitles. This is used to show how out of touch they have become over the millennia.
  • March 2, 2013
    XFllo
    This is probably tropable, but it needs serious help. The description needs improvement regarding clarity and style. Also there are way too many Zero Context Examples.
  • March 6, 2013
    OmarKarindu
    One thign that would help and could address an earlier objection would be a remark that examples must credibly show that the trope is occurring in genres, item-specific contexts, or popular media that almost always use subtitles the rest of the time. Then the exception is more clearly a trope. For example, if a big dialogue scene uses no subtitles but otherwise looks like a typical exposition scene, then the choice of no subtitles is a creative, meaning-producing choice. The example writer would have to provide some context or explain that the scene is shot or set up in certain ways.
  • March 6, 2013
    dakta
    There are possible scenarios, all of which seem to have examples here:

    1. The other characters speak the foreign language, so the audience is the only one left out (useless subtitles)

    2. The other characters speak the foreign language, so the audience knows what's going on (translated subtitles)

    3. The other characters don't speak the foreign language, so the audience is left out with them (useless subtitles)

    4. The other characters don't speak the foreign language, so the audience knows more than them (translated subtitles)

    Useless subtitles can be anything from no subtitles where there otherwise should be subtitles, subtitles that are a transcription of the language as spoken, or subtitles that just say "[Speaking _Language_]".

    The proposed trope image gives what I think is the original and best example: the foreign language isn't understood by the audience and the subtitles are no help. Some of the audience knows what was said, others don't, just like the characters. This is about the audience being left in the dark, so they go to the subtitles expecting a translation and all they get is "[Speaking Japanese]". Thus the name: "Reality Has No Subtitles".
  • March 7, 2013
    lakingsif
    When a work doesn't use subtitles, or uses useless subtitles, so that the audience doesn't know what is being said (unless they speak the language). Usually used when a character is around who doesn't speak that language, with subtitles later appearing when they have learnt the language, but not explicitly.
  • March 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • You Only Live Twice
      • Tiger Tanaka speaks untranslated Japanese to his underlings several times.
      • James Bond is about to have his chest hair dyed black as part of his Japanese disguise. He says "Why don't you just dye the parts that show?" His Bond Girl Aki repeats this in Japanese to the female Japanese attendants (who apparently don't speak English) and they all laugh.
  • March 10, 2013
    lakingsif
    I've changed the description, hopefully it's clearer now.
  • March 10, 2013
    Nocturna
    The description is full of sentence fragments. It would be good to re-write it into full, proper sentences.
  • March 10, 2013
    Elbruno
    • Halfway through Uncharted 2, Drake winds up in a small tibetan village. All "conversations" with the non-English speaking villagers are simply subtitled [Speaking Tibetan], even after Drake has learned to speak it. The effect of this is amplified by the fact that Tenzin, Drake's partner during these chapters, is one of those villagers.
  • March 10, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    I removed a couple non-examples (including the Swedish Chef per a comment above) and a sinkhole, and marked all the Zero Context Example's as such. ZCE are NOT allowed on wiki pages -- they have to be either fixed, or deleted.
  • March 25, 2013
    Quag15
    I think this is ready to launch. It just needs a stronger description.
  • March 25, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    Everything needs to be namespaced, if at all possible. And the zero context examples should be deleted if nobody can contribute descriptions for them.

    Otherwise, yes this is ready to launch.
  • March 25, 2013
    Quag15
    Ok, I'll do that. As soon as I finish this, I'll launch it, if no one else minds.
  • March 26, 2013
    morenohijazo
    This trope was mislaunched. The space for the trope is locked, so it can't be launched correctly at the moment.

    Where should be indexed, anyway?
  • March 26, 2013
    Quag15
    I'll see where it could be indexed. In the meantime, I've posted on the "Please unlock" thread. I'm waiting for an answer.
  • March 26, 2013
    Jhimmibhob
    [[folder:Theatre]]
    • In Henry V, an entire scene between Catherine and her lady-in-waiting is conducted in French.

    [[/folder]]
  • March 27, 2013
    Quag15
    Still no answer. Besides that "Please unlock" thread, is there any other way where I can ask and request it to be unlocked?
  • March 27, 2013
    morenohijazo
    Try in the YKTTW thread.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=mrrv0lfphb29fvme6ofumrj0&page=12#283

    If that doesn't work, try opening a thread in the "Trope talk" section of the forums.
  • March 27, 2013
    Quag15
    ^Thanks, I'll try it out!
  • August 11, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    This page has been launched in an unorthodox fashion, I see. I will launch it now to get it off the unlaunched pages list.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1b5wrg8qcva39q7zs4cm4603&trope=RealityHasNoSubtitles