In a scene between two or more characters, one of them might ask another to translate for them, but they give them "translations" that are so off-the-wall and far from the original meaning that it shocks the other party.
Compare My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels
, which is when someone trying to speak a foreign language does this accidentally, regardless of whether they're using a translator to do it or not.
When it happens only to subtitles, that's Fun with Subtitles
Sister trope to Translation with an Agenda
Contrast Tactful Translation
- In Space Dandy, Meow intentionally mistranslates the barks of the dog they find on Planet Machinia, because he's a cat and she's a dog... After Dandy activates his Universal Translator, Meow shuts himself up quick as Dandy gives him a Death Glare.
- A serious example in Stitched, Corporal Twiggy says her translator told the Afgani villagers she was addressing that the Americans were bad people, and if they listened to her they deserved a beating, instead of translating what she said.
- In The Goonies, Mrs. Walsh asks Mouth, who can speak Spanish, to translate her instructions to Rosalita, who doesn't know any English.
Irene Walsh: Mrs. Walsh: Pants and shirts are in the second. Just throw them all into cardboard boxes. Forget the suitcases. Clark, can you translate all of that?
Mouth: Why certainly, Mrs. Walsh.
Mrs. Walsh: That's wonderful.
Mouth: (to Rosalita, in Spanish) The marijuana goes in the top drawer. The cocaine and speed in the second. The heroin in the bottom. Always separate the drugs.
Mrs. Walsh: Now Rosalita, this is the attic. Mr. Walsh doesn't like anybody up here, ever. That's why it's always open.
Mouth: (in Spanish) Never go up there. It's filled with Mr. Walsh's sexual torture devices.
Mrs. Walsh: This is my supply closet. You'll find everything you need: brooms, dustpans, insect spray. I would really like the house clean when they tear it down. Clark, can you translate?
Mouth: (in Spanish) If you do a bad job you'll be locked in here with the cockroaches, for two weeks without food and water.
Mrs. Walsh: Okay, Rosie? Okay? You're going to be very happy here. Come on, Clark, we've got much more to do. You're so fluent in languages!
Rosalita: (in Spanish) My God, I'm in a crazy house!
- Lampshaded in Big Trouble in Little China, as Jack Burton and Wang Chi are sneaking around David Lo Pan's base.
Jack Burton: (pointing to Chinese writing on elevator) What does that say?
Wang Chi: (speaks Chinese) "Hell of Boiling Oil".
Jack Burton: You're kidding.
Wang Chi: Yeah, I am. It says "Keep Out".
- In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is Ian's Running Gag; in one memorable scene, he asks how to say "dinner's ready!" in Greek, but the phrase he's told actually means "I have three testicles!"
- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ace's translator understood the dialect of the other tribe perfectly. However decided to make a sound crazier and dangerous with what he told them he said. Including "I am a Princess".
- In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Captain Corelli is one of a group of Italian soldiers occupying a Greek village. At one point, wanting to make a good impression on the villagers, he asks a villager who speaks Italian to teach him a greeting in Greek. The villager instead teaches him a spectactular insult, which he goes around cheerfully giving to everyone until he figures out something's gone wrong.
- In Red vs. Blue, Lopez tricks O'Malley into calling himself a pendejo among other things, thinking that he's giving orders to his robot army.
- In The Simpsons episode "Midnight Rx", after Homer, Ned Flanders, Apu and Smithers are arrested by Canadian Mounties.
Canadian Mountie: We've confiscated your car and its contents.
French Translator: Nous avons confisqué votre voiture et son contenu.
Mountie: You may leave Canada, but never return.
French Translator: Vous pouvez quitter le Canada, mais ne retournez jamais.
Mountie: I am a big fat French idiot.
French Translator: Je suis un grand gros - HEY!
- In a Robot Chicken Star Wars parody, Evazan does this for Ponda Baba's innocent question to Luke Skywalker. (The two are architects, according to the skit.)