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


(permanent link) added: 2011-11-15 16:05:28 sponsor: Wheezy (last reply: 2011-12-30 23:21:48)

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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.

Examples

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.
  • 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.
  • Happens in Ciaphas Cain (and by extension the entire Warhammer 40K 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.

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?"

Anime & 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.
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