Needs a Better Name
A subtrope of "Blind Idiot" Translation
and a relative of Recursive Translation
. This is when a work in one language uses a word from another language, but when the work is translated into the language which it borrowed that word from, the translators are thrown off and try to translate it (even though it's already in their language) instead of leaving it as is. There are a few possible outcomes;
- In the case of loanwords, they might remain untranslated even if they're used differently in the work's original language.
- The phrase might be reworded either because the translator fails to realise that its a word from their language or is determined to translate every part of the script whether necessary or not.
- If the word is a loanword or has roots in another language entirely (for example French phrases like "coup de grace" or Greek and Latin suffixes like "phobia" are both used in English often enough to be treated as a part of the language) then it's translated from that (for example phobia becomes "fears" and "coup de grace" becomes "blow of mercy"). This makes even less sense than the above, as it requires that the translator realise they're dealing with a word that's supposed to be foreign.
- Finally (and possibly more benevolently), the translator might translate words in the original script which are in the language being translated into the language of the original script to Keep It Foreign or just apply a Translation Correction if the script's original implimentation of the translator's language was badly done.
When someone demands something be translated from a language they speak anyway it's Completely Unnecessary Translator
, if they simply took something in the original language that would be too rude for native speakers
it's Tactful Translation
, for when the "same" language actually does need translating it's Separated by a Common Language
- I've Seen It a Million Times but (the case tends to be whenever I write a YKTTW) I can only recall the example that made me think of it.
- Some fansubs of the Soul Eater anime translate "Arachnophobia" (the name of the antagonists' organisation) from the Japanese script into "Fear of spiders" or "Fear of Arachne".
- Jorge Luis Borges initially named one of the volumes of his collected works with the English The Maker, which he then translated into Spanish as El hacedor. The first English translators were unaware of Borge's intentions, and were unsure how to translate "hacedor", so they just sidestepped it and named the book Dreamtigers (after one of the stories from the book).
- In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Professor Aronnax recalls an expedition to the Nebraska badlands, which he gives in the original French as les mauvaises terres du Nebraska. Some English translators have failed to recognise the term, resulting in translations like "the disagreeable territory of Nebraska".
- A small one shows up in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. In one scene Kyon says a few words in Japanese, then in English. The dub and some subs he does the opposite.
- The Simpsons has this train of though take place.
"... and vendetta is italian for...?"
- The Other Wiki does occasionally; for example, their article on Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater gives the Japanese "name" in katakana, and then romanizes it to "Metaru Gia Soriddo Suri Suneku Ita".
- IMDB has similar issues sometimes.
- Requiem for a Dream has a brief scene between Marlon Wayans and a deaf drug dealer. The drug dealer uses sign language while a member of his gang translates. At the end of the conversation, the drug dealer finally says something, "You fuck me, I kill you!". The translator begins to repeat it anyway but Marlons Wayans cuts him off and says, "I got that."
- This quote from X-Play reviewing Gladiator the game:
Young Augustus Ceasar (thinking): "'Et tu, Brute...' And you, Brutus...."
Morgan: "That's right: He's translating Latin -- to himself!"
- Ann old Soviet comedy The Diamond Arm used an inversion. Some foreigner screams at a character invectives that don't need any translation (like "cretino! castrato!"), then the dub voice, very deadpan, says: "...untranslatable wordplay".
- Parodied in Excel Saga: At one point there's an English text scroll, so there are Japanese subtitles. The English version then provides a hilariously inaccurate translation of those subtitles.