Created By: Wheezy on November 15, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on July 8, 2015

Local Culture Overdose

A story so full of unexplained slang and cultural references an outsider probably won\'t get it.

Name Space:
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Trope
Do We Have This One??

A story so saturated with Funetik Aksents, gratuitous foreign languages, regional in-jokes, and slang the creator's familiar with, that anyone not familiar with the local customs at play may well find it like trying to read untranslated Navajo.

Of course, most stories are this to someone in the world, but some examples are more egregious than others. Especially notable are the ones where the author is explaining nothing. If you don't get it, you won't get it, and he doesn't care to tell you what any of it means. If you want to understand it, maybe you should try being from the same country as him.

Different from Reference Overdosed in that the former specifically covers Shout Outs to other shows, where as this is mainly about culture tropes.

This is particularly noticeable in Literature, although it appears in all mediums and genres.

Common in Hard Science Fiction, when the author doesn't always explain what the future entails.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • A lot of anime and manga appears this way to people unfamiliar with Japanese culture when the translators don't bother to explain things that were Lost in Translation, like honorifics, modes of speaking, and puns. If it's a period piece like Millennium Actress or Vagabond, you're new to Japanese history, and there are no translation notes, forget about it.

Film
  • Attack the Block was screwed by the distributors for its US release, supposedly because they thought American audiences wouldn't understand the thick South London accents and slang. The film was well received critically, showing that some American viewers got it - on the other hand, half the IMDB comments are "What's a Council Estate?"

Literature
  • Large parts of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are written in Dominican Spanglish. It can be hard to get even if you speak some of it.
  • Trainspotting is almost entirely composed in a phonetic rendering of Edinburgh vernacular circa the mid-1980s. It can take a long time before the average reader is familiar with the conventions of the style.
  • The works of Bret Easton Ellis can come across like this for readers not intimately familiar with 1980s American popular culture, fashion, slang and geography.
  • A Clockwork Orange is a kind of fictional example, composed in a seemingly impenetrable fictional dialect of English called "nadsat". Compounding the difficulties, it's set in the then-future, including copious references to fictional drugs, locations, technology etc.
  • The Ross O'Carroll-Kelly books can be quite difficult for a non-Irish reader to understand.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston can be this way, for Southern African-American society of the early 20th century.
  • Happens in Ciaphas Cain (and by extension the entire Tabletop Game/Warhammer40000 verse) when he mentions that the slang used in hive cities (kilometers-tall urban structures) is completely incomprehensible to anyone not from that specific hive, or even from a different sector of the same hive.
  • Thomasina by Paul Gallico is dripping in Scottish accents. Get used to reading lines like "Och! Th pur wee beasties with tha nose all a bludgy."
  • Discworld books are rooted in British culture and folklore, but Pratchett does care enough for non-British readers to offer footnoted explanations - ie in describing the pre-1971 British currency.

Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • November 15, 2011
    Rytex
    My Immortal. Holy hell does it do this. The entire story is built around the pop culture and slang!
  • November 15, 2011
    Insignificant
    We have Reference Overdosed for works with a lot of cultural references. I'm not sure if we have a trope for works that have a lot of slang, though.

    Anyway, it Needs A Better Title.
  • November 16, 2011
    Wheezy
    How's this one?
  • November 16, 2011
    Folamh3
    • Trainspotting is almost entirely composed in a phonetic rendering of Edinburgh vernacular circa the mid-1980s. It can take a long time before the average reader is familiar with the conventions of the style.
    • The works of Bret Easton Ellis can come across like this for readers not intimately familiar with 1980s American popular culture, fashion, slang and geography.
    • A Clockwork Orange is a kind of fictional example, composed in a seemingly impenetrable fictional dialect of English called "nadsat". Compounding the difficulties, it's set in the then-future, including copious references to fictional drugs, locations, technology etc.
    • The Ross O Carroll Kelly books can be quite difficult for a non-Irish reader to understand.
  • November 18, 2011
    HumanaUox
    Your Milage May Vary, but Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston can be this way, for Southern African-American society of the early 20th century.

    Common in Hard Science Fiction, when the author doesn't always explain what the future entails.
  • November 18, 2011
    Chabal2
    Happens in Ciaphas Cain (and by extension the entire Warhammer 40 K verse) when he mentions that the slang used in hive cities (kilometers-tall urban structures) is completely incomprehensible to anyone not from that specific hive, or even from a different sector of the same hive.

  • November 21, 2011
    ChunkyDaddy
    • The Matrix has so many allusions to Buddhist and Christian philosophy that most people go "Say what?"
  • November 23, 2011
    Wheezy
    Not An Example, IMO. There's practically no slang, and even if you missed out on the philosophy, the story still makes sense. (At least the first two. I haven't seen the third.)
  • December 8, 2011
    Met
    The book Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban is a fictional example of this. It's set in a post-apocalyptic future where the English language has naturally changed over several centuries. Some words have changed in meaning, and other words and phrases have degraded to the point of no longer being recognizable.
  • December 8, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    • Thomasina by Paul Gallico is dripping in Scottish accents. Get used to reading lines like "Och! Th pur wee beasties with tha nose all a bludgy."

  • December 9, 2011
    jatay3
    My dad complains about that problem when I write short stories. There's just only so much I can get in without overturning the plot and some of these have complicated historical or sci-fi settings.
  • December 9, 2011
    SchrodingersDuck
    The film Attack The Block was screwed by the distributors for its US release, supposedly because they thought American audiences wouldn't understand the thick South London accents and slang. The film was well recieved critically, showing that some American viewers got it - on the other hand, half the IMDB comments are "What's a Council Estate?"
  • December 9, 2011
    Hadashi
    Any Hollywood film that has been utterly bowdlerised by Executive Meddling. Particularly a few years on. You know the kind of thing I mean.
  • December 9, 2011
    TBTabby
    Super Milk Chan bombed on Adult Swim for this reason.
  • December 10, 2011
    Vyctorian
    Gintama often uses this making references to shows that few japanese people even know about.
  • December 10, 2011
    AgPrv
    Literature: Terry Pratchett's {{Discworld]] books are rooted in British culture and folklore , but he does care enough for non-British readers to offer footnoted explanations - ie in describing the pre-1971 British currency.
  • July 4, 2015
    eroock
    Film:
    • Chappie is full of South African slang and musical references to local band Die Antwoord whose members play main characters in the movie.
  • July 4, 2015
    Chabal2
    ^^ Also applies to Good Omens, which is filled with explanatory footnotes for Americans and other aliens on British towns and customs.
  • July 4, 2015
    lakingsif
    • A lot of Miami, California, and "hispanic-cooking" slang is included in the film Chef that "po'boy" might as well be the slogan. Martin also reams off a long list a localised-slang terms for different sandwiches and similar specialties at South Beach, finishing with "if you can say it, we can make it!"
  • July 4, 2015
    Dalillama
    • Rivers Of London is much harder to understand for people who haven't got a working knowledge of London's geography and working-class dialect.
  • July 4, 2015
    StarSword
    Hell, I did this myself at one point:

    Fan Works:
  • July 7, 2015
    randomsurfer
    The Yiddish Policemens Union takes place in an Alternate Present where in 1948 an equivalent of Israel was founded in Alaska. There is so much local slang and references that the book contains an appendix explaining it all.
  • July 8, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Namespaced and italicized work names.
      • Moved the "Common in Hard Science Fiction" example to the Description as per How To Write An Example - Keep it an example. Examples are about appearances of a trope in a specific work or Real Life, not general statements.
      • Alphabetized media sections.
      • Corrected spelling (recieved).
      • Deleted "Your Milage May Vary, but " from the Their Eyes Were Watching God example as per Examples Are Not Arguable. A work either has an example of a trope or it doesn't. If you're not sure, it doesn't.
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