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
- 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: (to Rosalita, 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: (to Rosalita, 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!"
- In Scrubs, Dr. Cox asks Dr. Reid for help speaking to a German patient. She gives a line that means "Your wife has nice boobs" when he wanted to tell him about his condition.
- In another episode, Carla's brother gives The Todd a pickup line for Spanish chicks. It doesn't work.
Yo tengo herpes genital...para ti. (Said with a cocky attitude. Translates to, "I have genital herpes...for you.")
- The "Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus had a phrasebook that gave bogus translations from Hungarian to English, such as translating the Hungarian "Can you direct me to the station?" into the English "please fondle my bum". The publisher of this phrasebook was taken to court for "breach of the peace".
- 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".
- This Dilbert strip.
- 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.
- A serious example in Stitched, Corporal Twiggy says her translator told the Afgani villiagers 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 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!