A hidden message in a foreign language. This ostensibly makes said messages available only to bilingual and international audiences. The extra can be anything from a plot-relevant point to additional dialogue (often used to demonstrate that they've Shown Their Work
with the language) to a random gag.
As you may have guessed, this can be a very clever way of Getting Crap Past the Radar
. In fact, Hollywood censors once demanded English translations of any part of a screenplay written in a foreign language (whether that language was real or made-up) precisely to thwart this, since subtitles traditionally weren't used in American films even when a character was speaking a language other than English.
If the word still makes sense in another way then it's also a Multiple Reference Pun
This, of course, not only applies to actual languages, but also the various fictional
languages that have full-blown lexicons and can technically be translated — Quenya and Sindarin
, D'ni from the Myst verse
, et cetera. Contrast Bilingual Backfire
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Anime & Manga
- Cowboy Bebop has plenty of those, from texts in foreign languages all over the place to Ed’s father’s name being "Excuse me, check please" in Turkish.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: in the North American dub, Asuka holds an entire telephone conversation in German in the background of one scene; there are allegedly several in-jokes in her dialogue for German speakers who ignore the foreground action to concentrate on her.
- The title itself is an example. It is possible to predict the ending. Word for word, it translates to "New Beginning Gospel", or it can be re-arranged slightly to become "Gospel of the New Beginning".
- In Welcome to the N.H.K. the main character prances through half the series wearing sweatshirts with the mysterious letters XYN – a corruption of Cyrillic ХУЙ (huĭ), which happens to be one of the few absolutely taboo words in Russian, literally the male penis, but also ranging in meaning from "fuck off" to "cunt" (the insult, not the matching organ) depending on context.
- The English dub of Hellsing Ultimate has once instance of this: in the 3rd episode when Seras is escorting the Japanese tourists, the tourists have been redubbed in Japanese, and are apparently saying very rude things about the English staff working on the episode.
- The pre-opening credits sequence in Slayers Revolution has a pun on the Japanese possessive particle no (の in hiragana) and the English and Spanish word no: the captions on the wanted poster for Lina are "AKUMA NO MIMI"note , "AKUMA NO KUCHI"note , and "NO BUST".
- At one point in Genshiken, Angela and Ohno are talking about an explicit scene in a Yaoi manga in English. The Japanese subs are censored but their dialogue is not.
- In episode 11 of Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi, a newspaper article in French reveals that Alice was the student who died, which Ai doesn't learn until the next episode.
- In episode 10 of the second season of CLANNAD, the protagonist Tomoya wears a sweatshirt with the german caption Neue Wellenote . May be an example of foreshadowing, since he'll name his daughter later Ushio, which translates into tides.
- Fantastic Four #542 includes Ben Grimm's adventures in France (his response to the super hero Civil War) as well as his attempts at speaking the French language (specifically, trying to say "It's clobberin' time" in French. He's less than successful).
Thing: That just means il est temps de foutre!note
Anais: You said "foutre". I think you meant to say, "Il est temps de battre!"
Thing: Oh. I guess I got excited.
- French comic Nelson has a few panels involving dog food called "Doggy style". Yeah, really. Most French just know what "dog" means.
- Zombilenium has an in-universe Latin case. While blessing a dead woman who was actually turned into a vampire, the priest (who helps covering The Masquerade) says "free us from eternal death" in Latin. The vampire director laughs and translates for the reader.
- In Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, Spidey is in Germany, heading to the Berlin Wall, and spots a couple of German police and doesn't understand them.
Spider-Man: [thinking] Shop talk. Counting the number of people they've shot trying to go over the wall!
Guard 1: <I told her she's crazy! My mother's strudel got an award! It's fantastic! My old lady can't bake. Mankind would be better off without her strudel.>
Guard 2: <Fritz, I would just tell her.>
- As well as the costume he wears in Germany labeled "Die Spinne"
- The Dark Horse Comics Star Wars one-shot "Force Fiction" has the menu that Yoda is reading written in Trade Federation Basic. The translation is noted below:
- In the English translation of Astérix, all the French wordplay is replaced with equivalent English wordplay, but all the Latin wordplay remains in Latin. One of the main joke templates involves three recently defeated characters each making a pun on the situation, with one usually in Latin.
- Same in the Finnish translation. Moreover, the Normans' language actually uses the actual phonetic values of the Norwegian/Danish letters, instead of just substituting the standard "a", "o" or "e" letters. Since most Finns know enough of the Norwegian language and its ortography, the text is perfectly readable.
- A Viz character named "Sweary Mary" was challenged to get an obscenity on the front cover of the comic. She managed this by arranging the bunting for a village fete, including a set of unusual flags. In the final frame, everyone seems happy except for a passing sailor who is slapping his head in horrified disbelief, as he is the only one (apart from Mary) to be aware that a string of pretty flags are spelling out the words "Fucking Cunt". Fortunately for those without naval training, a feature further inside the comic explained the signal-flag alphabet.
- In Lucky Luke album Le Grand Duc, the grratuitous-looking Cyrillic script is actually real Russian, and contains meaningful sentences. For example, the anarchist assassin is heard to yell Неудача! (Fail!) every time his evil plots go pear-shaped.
- Kalash93 knows four languages. Naturally, this lends itself to rather frequent usage of this trope. A large amount of depth, complexity, and foreshadowing, is hidden in bilingual bonuses, providing a richer experience to multilingual readers.
- In Pokeumans, transformees often go into a coma and wake up once their transformation has completed a week later. In one of the Recursive Fanfiction spinoffs, this effect was given the medical name "Metamorphic Comatose", or "Segnis scriptor" - which means 'lazy author'.
- Menburen no Tsuinzu, a Christmas crossover video between Kingdom Hearts and Ratchet & Clank, has its official name in Japanese, which is translated as "Twins of the Membrane". It does have an alternate name in English, called Twinsane in the Membrane.
- "To Absent Friends": The USS Bajor's Pretentious Latin Motto, "Morituri Nolumus Mori"? Not so pretentious. It's a Discworld reference: "We who are about to die don't want to."
- While most of the Japanese in Sonic X: Dark Chaos is not translated or transcribed, one translated sentence has Sonya saying "Who the fuck wrote this?"
- The Big Bad in Sluagh is The Diabhal Dubh, explained In-Story to mean 'The Black Devil' in Gaelic. What isn't explained is that Dubh can also mean several other things, including 'Hidden'. Given his nature, this is very appropriate.
Films — Animated
- Mulan has to give a male name when she joins the army. Stressed by the situation, the only thing she can come up with is "Ping." It means "peace." Furthermore, she is registered under her real family name "Hua", so her full name (Hua Ping) translate to "flowerpot", slang for a homosexual man or a useless prettyboy. It might also be the Chinese word for "soldier" (Bing in Pinyin, but pronounced Ping), which would be logical given that Mulan was panicking and picked the first word she could think of after looking around.
- Chi Fu's name is a pun on the Chinese word for "to bully."
- Chien Po's chant while trying to calm Yao down is a Buddhist prayer.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: "Hellfire", Frollo's show stopping song of guiltless condemnation, is counterpointed by Ominous Latin Chanting — specifically, as anyone familiar with Catholic mass might know, the Act Of Contrition.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, ASL speakers got an added bonus as the ASL-speaking Avox Pollux is signing to his brother Castor. After meeting Katniss, Cressida explains to Katniss that Pollux can't speak because the Capitol cut out his tongue. He turns to his brother and signs, "She's pretty, don't you think?" and his brother signs a very enthusiastic "Yes". Considering that ASL takes facial expression into account quite a bit, the conversation could be translated as "She's really hot, isn't she?" "YEAH SHE IS."
- In episode 8 of Band of Brothers, the translator tells some German POWs (in German, of course) "be good, and you will get a cookie!"
- Catalina, the Latina maid in My Name Is Earl, occasionally goes into an angry-seeming stream of Spanish, which is taken by non-Spanish-speakers to be a blistering insult (usually aimed at Joy). In fact, she is speaking directly to the audience and has on different occasions thanked Latino viewers for tuning in, congratulated non-Latinos on learning a new language, explained that a more expensive scene had been cut, bid farewell for the end of the season, and apologised for continuity errors in that episode.
- Dr. Radek Zelenka (played by Czech-born Canadian actor David Nykl) in Stargate Atlantis is known for making humorous asides in Czech, including a case of No Fourth Wall where he commented "I can't work with these actors".
- The Russian dialogue between sailors on a Russian submarine in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Small Victories" slid into No Fourth Wall as well, referring to "these bugs from the first episode". Allegedly, the actors were asked to just say anything in Russian. The Russian dub overwrote it with sane dialogue.
- Apparently the actors added a little deadpan snark into it, the dialog consists of something along the lines of "What is inside?" "Maybe those bugs from the last episode" and later "What are those creatures?".
- In the German dub, the actors are apparently voiced by (probably) native speakers and the sailor answer the question on what in the torpedo tube with "probably the body of our sacked captain".
- When the Dalek ships are revealed towards the end of the Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf," the soundtrack features a male choir chanting. Apparently they are singing "What is happening?" in Hebrew.
- When the Tenth Doctor is slowly succumbing to the radiation poisoning at the end of The End of Time (Part 2), the Ood, led by Ood Sigma, sing to the Doctor. Their words to him: "Vale Decem" which is Latin for "Farewell Ten"
- iCarly's iGo to Japan movie is even funnier when you know why the Japanese security guard slapped Spencer: he called his mother fat. In the episode iGo Nuclear, a bonus joke for Russian speakers is that Cal's case of illegal uranium is actually labeled plutonium.
- Inspector Morse features an example in Morse code (of course) – the opening bars of the theme music are supposed to spell out MORSE, but some fans argue that the gap in the middle of the M (two dashes) is slightly too long and so it actually spells TTORSE (T is a single dash). Also the opening theme sometimes tells you who the murderer is, but it has been known to lie.
- Similarly, Morse code in the opening of each episode of Jericho gives a clue or spoiler about the episode.
- The French comedy duo Kad and Olivier had a recurring sketch about an American sheriff having to solve road infractions caused by well known people (Superman, Robert Smith, etc etc...). Of course, during the whole sketch, they were talking English with a (sometimes less than faithful) French translation running over what they were saying... Except one tiny message that was running on the radio:
Car one to control: can I eat my wife and fuck my dog, please?
- There's a certain minor character from 24 whose name is Marcos Al-Zacar. His last name is roughly Arabic for "The Dick". The name was probably trying to offend the character.
- In Bottom, the German (bad grammar) instructions for the VCR apparently say "Stecken dein Kopf in deinen Arsch.".
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Icarus Factor" has Riker and his dad duking it out on a platform with the kanji for the Eastern elements of Fire, Wind, Water, Air, Void, but also Urusai Yatsura, Lum, Ataru, and Yuri.
- In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , Todd makes up some sign language while speaking to a group of deaf people, who throw things at him in response. His sign language translates to something offensive.
- Ricky Ricardo's Spanish rants about Lucy/at Lucy/about Lucy's schemes on I Love Lucy were clearly implied to be colorful profanity, but Spanish speakers will know that most of what he said was fairly mild ("What is this woman thinking?", etc), just said in an overly excited tone.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- The episode Beneath You has a Cold Open involving a woman in Germany being chased by assassins in a club. A techno piece blares on the score, with the only lyrics being "Von der Tiefe verschlingt es" - German for "From the depth it devours", which of course mirrors the Arc Words "from beneath you it devours".
- Spells are almost always done in another language; often a dead one like Latin, although Giles also manages quite respectable German. The Latin is sometimes accurate, sometimes gibberish (as in Sunnydale High School's motto).
- While discussing the newly-found scythe in Season 7, one name comes up: "M question-mark." Giles points out that the "question mark" (ʔ) is actually a glottal stop in the International Phonetic Alphabet. What does "mʔ" sound like? The English word would be "gulp."
- In Bones episode The Truth in the Lye, Agent Booth is seen at the end wearing a T-shirt that says "ファック・ザ・世界 / モルフィーンジェネレーション", which is "Fuck the World / Morphine Generation" in (mostly-transliterated) Japanese.
- Several examples of this trope happen in JAG; in German, Farsi and Russian; courtesy of in-house polyglot Mac.
- Joss Whedon's Firefly has a plethora of fun phrases in Chinese, which when translated, give us gems like: "the explosive diarrhea of an elephant" and "frog humping son of a bitch."
- In Season 2, Episode 11 of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon eats "off-brand Mexican Cheetos" called "El Sabor de Soledad" while discussing an ex-boyfriend; these later become a Running Gag. In Spanish, this means "The Taste of Loneliness". Also, one of their advertising lines:
¡Ahora con más semen de toro!note
- You might be able to figure this one out on looks alone (also placing it in Visual Pun territory), but in a Babylon 5 episode concerning an Underground Railroad, there is a Russian-language poster in Ivanova's quarters at the end. It's a Soviet-era poster advertising the subway.
- Deadwood has an example that doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny if you understand it. Swearengen, who speaks only English, is talking to Mr. Wu, who speaks only Chinese and maybe a dozen words of English. In trying to convey that Swearengen and another man are hostile towards each other, Swearengen invokes a Chinese term he's heard Wu use to describe enemies, saying that he and Hearst are "baak gwai lo." Little does he realize he's just said that both of them are "white devils." And very appropriately for both him and Hearst.
- Frasier: If the viewer happens to speak French, they can catch the deliberately uppity yet nonsensical names of the restaurants that Frasier and Niles frequent, such as Le Cigare Volant (The Flying Cigar), Le Petit Oiseau (The Little Bird), Le Petit Bistro and, arguably the best example, Quelquechose meaning literally "Something."
- There's also the episode where Frasier and Niles have a conversation in French to confuse Eddie.
- Game of Thrones: In "Breaker of Chains," when the Meereenese rider challenges Dany, he shouts a Valyrian translation of the French taunter scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- In one episode of Happy Days, Richie, Potsie and Ralph come up with an idea to impress girls: pretend to be foreigners. None of them speak a foreign language, but Ralph's grandma taught him to count to five in "Indian", so they bluff by shuffling those words. They are in fact the words for one through five in Chinook Jargon.
- The "New Girl" episode Micro has Schmidt's face on a Korean billboard. He believes it's a real modeling job (for Korean Jew relations), when it's actually the result of a failed prank by Winston and Cece. The Korean on the billboard translates to "I'm a model".
- Israeli satire show Nikui Rosh featured a skit named The Goldfather, parodying a notorious case of corruption from the time involving the Israel Corporation. In the skit, an unnamed mob boss threatens then-chairman Michael Tsur’s likeness ‘Don Tsurleone’ that if he doesn’t return the money that Jewish businessman Tibor Rosenbaum gambled away, he will be killed.
Mob Boss: Capito?note Non capito (Holds up a teaspoonnote )—sakino!note (Draws a switchblade and holds it against Tsurleone’s face.)
- Beck's song Hotwax has the following chorus: Yo soy disco quebrado / Yo tengo chicle en el cerebro. It translates to "I am a broken record / I have bubblegum in my brain."
- Similarly, the song Loser, which contains the repeated line Soy un perdidor ("I am a loser").
- La Belle's Lady Marmalade features a...provocative questionnote in French.note
- The Clash song Spanish Bombs which contain refrain Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito, oh, te quiero, oh mí corazón (Spanish bombs, I love you infinitely, oh, I love you, oh my heart).
- "The Macaronic Carol" by Shari Ajemian and Sarah Newcomb alternates between lines in English and Latin. The English lines are all about how much fun it is to carol gaily in fields of snow; the Latin lines are things like "my feet hurt", "it's cold", and "I want to go home".
- Knorkator, another German metal band, has one song entirely in Thai. However, the lyrics are entirely about Alf Ator's then girlfriend and now wife telling how she was asked to write a song in her native Thai and she has no idea what that song should be about. But it doesn't really matter since nobody in the band or the audience will understand it anyway.
- Cheech Marin's rapid stream of Spanish in the middle of "Taco Grande" by "Weird Al" Yankovic translates approximately to: "Good evening, sir. Welcome to Enrico's Casa de Salsa. We have many delicious entrees. If I might recommend the Burning Hell Chicken, very delicious. Your eyes will burn up, your stomach will be on fire, you'll be in the bathroom for a week, do you understand what I'm saying, stupid silly gringo?!"
- The song "Die Eier Von Satan" by Tool features German lyrics delivered in an angry tirade over a cheering audience and grinding industrial music. The translated lyrics are actually a simple recipe for hash brownies. The lyrics also feature a German pun. The name of the brownies are "The eggs of Satan," with "eggs" being German slang for "testicles." The recipe, as the speaker repeatedly proclaims to massive cheers, includes no actual eggs.
- The first album by the Italian rock band Elio e le Storie Tese is titled "Elio samaga hukapan kariyana turu", which means "Let's all merrily fart and cum with Elio" in Tamil. The title of their later album "Italyan, rum casusu čikti" was taken from the headlines of a newspaper from Cyprus and means "It turned out that the 'Italian' was a Greek spy".
- There's some unexpected and untranslated French toward the end of Judas Priest's 1977 song "Saints in Hell": "Abbatoir! Abbatoir! Mon Dieu, quelle horreur!" ("Slaughterhouse! Slaughterhouse! My God, what horror!")
- A Russian phrase (Я сошла с ума - "I have lost my mind") is in the chorus of "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u.
- Their song "Gomenasai" (Japanese for "I'm Sorry") has the word, well, Gomenasai in it (it's misspelled on purpose). An English song with a Japanese title by a Russian band.
- When the song "Зачем я" ("Why do I...") was adapted for the band's first international album and given the new name "Stars", it still kept its verses in Russian.
- Cracker's "What You're Missing" has a couple of untranslated Spanish phrases in the background vocals. First there's "con pelirroja", which would roughly be "with (a) redhead" - the phrase comes up just before red-haired bassist and backing vocalist Brandy Wood gets to Step Up to the Microphone for a verse. Later in the same song there's "protegido por monos", meaning "guarded by monkeys"; the phrase "guarded by monkeys" is sort of a Running Gag cropping up multiple times on the album Forever.
- While Brazilian singer Falcão did an intentionally broken English translation of a cheesy and popular song about a black VW Beetle, he named it "Black People Car" - because difficulties in translating the local name of the car (Fusca) made him seek what Volkswagen meant in German, and it was "people's car".
- The Poxy Boggards' "I Wear No Pants" contains a Trilingual bonus. It switches from English to Italian to German, before going back to English. The non-English verses (besides the obvious translation of "I wear no pants" in each verse) translate roughly to:
Look at my balls!
Look at my balls!
Look at my balls!
(It's) not old macaroni!
(It's) striking to look at!
Striking to look at!
Striking to look at!
My big prick!
- The song "Fiesta" by The Pogues, about partying in Spain, has lyrics in English with inserted Spanish phrases. The last verse is entirely in (rough) Spanish (with one Italian line). It contains enigmatic mentions of one "Cait O'Riordan" and an "Costello el rey del America". O'Riordan was The Pogues' first bassist, until she ran off to marry Elvis ("The king of America") Costello.
- The Beatles' "Michelle" has the line "These are words that go together well" resung two lines later in French: "Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble."
- Acid Bath has two songs with titles written in Cajun French (a dialect spoken in very specific parts of their home state of Louisiana) - "Diäb Soulé" and "Toubabo Koomi", which respectively mean "Drunken Devil" and "Land of White Cannibals".
- The Evillious Chronicles's Sloth song, "Gift From The Princess That Brought Sleep," appears to have a Gratuitous English word, "gift," repeated over and over. It turns out that it's actually Gratuitous German, as "gift" in German means "poison."
- Believe it or not, there was actually a feud based around the Bilingual Bonus; there was a brief period of time where WWE Divas champion Maryse (from Montreal, Quebec, Canada) would come up to Gail Kim and talk about how great a wrestler she is and how she respects her, etc., and then say something in French. This went on for a few weeks until Kim attacked Maryse, revealed she was fluent in French and that she had known the entire time that Maryse was trash-talking her to her face.
- There's a possible variation in this Ring of Honor promo preceding a Montreal show, as Colt Cabana requests the help of Kevin Steen (also from Quebec) in translating "I can't wait to party with everybody in Montreal, ROH style" — what Kevin tells him is "j'ai couché avec ma mère hier" ("I slept with my mom yesterday"). Colt seemingly acts oblivious to the joke other than saying 'sa' instead of 'ma', but Kevin immediately realizes that Colt just switced "my" with "his".
- Eddie Izzard, being fluent in a few languages, does an entire section on the Definite Article DVD about learning foreign languages by tape cassette. He even ends the sections by promising it's hilarious if you're bi-lingual.
- Gabriel Iglesias has a routine about authentic and non-authentic Hawaiian luaus. When describing the non-authentic one, he describes a tour guide who is actually from Oregon and a bus driver who actually is from Hawaii, who calls her "my little punanny". Punanny means "vagina" in Jamaican patois.
- Bill Bailey also invokes this through a discussion about foreign ambulance sirens. Needless to say, he abuses the opportunity to hide some things in it:
Attention! Nous sommes blessés! note
Nous avons un homme; il s'appelle Jean-Michel, sa jambe est cassé. note
Avec une jeune fille; elle s'appelle Gisèle. C'est si belle. note
Ils ont montés dans un arbre pour faire l’amour. Il a adopté la position misionnaire; c'est populaire. note
Il est tombé. Sa jambe est cassé. Attention! note
- Richard Jeni had a bit where he talked about late night commercials, especially for lawyers. He calls the lawyer in his bit Marvin A Gonif. Gonif is a Yiddish word for a crook/cheat/dishonest person, adding an extra layer onto the joke.
- In the card game Chez Geek, the flavor text for the card "Caesar's Gallic Wars" says, in Latin, "Gaul is now divided into three parts. I believe Elvis is alive."
- In one of the d20 Modern adventures (Le Chien de l'Onyx (although in proper french, it would be Le Chien d'Onyx (The Onyx Dog)), a captive NPC you can free is called Delacey Otage (Otage is French for Hostage).
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle absolutely loves bilingualities. The Bretonnia is full of references to French, while the Empire has more than its fair share of Germanities. Likewise, the army list book Dogs of War, which has been modelled after the Renaissance Italian condottieri, is full of Italianisms.
- In The Musical of The Wedding Singer, as part of the finale, the characters recap the entire show, including one who sings a verse in Filipino. The next singer's verse, appropriately, is "For those of you who speak Filipino, you know that things ended up the way they should."
- The French class scene in The History Boys. It's completely untranslated unless they decide to put something in the programme, and dear lord, it's hysterical. Particularly when Dakin drops his trousers for reasons entirely incomprehensible to an audience that doesn't understand French...
- Older Than Steam: Princess Katherine's language lesson and the courting scene in Shakespeare's Henry V both contain untranslated French. The latter is funny mostly for King Henry's unsubtle mangling of the language. The former is basically a scene-long build-up to two predictable and filthy sound puns.
- Theatre: Amadeus has more meaning if you remember that Amadeus means God's beloved in Latin.
- The FPS Medal of Honor features some funny conversation between enemies. They are spoken in German without subtitles. One of them features a meta-joke in which a soldier wonders aloud whether he is real or a character in a work of fiction.
- Max Payne 3 is a great example, considering the game takes place in Brazil and there are no subtitles for the Portuguese. The Bilingual Bonus comes from all kinds of things, like understanding the soundtrack (beautifully made) and dialogue between other characters. Not forgetting the good laughs for the way Max pronounce "Crachá Preto".
- Coxinhas is a kind of a dish quite popular in Brazil but it also happens to be a nickname for "police". Guess what do you find in the police office? Coxinhas.
- In World of Warcraft, Hostile Troll NPCs in the Dwarvish starting area will shout out "Don't be stealin my weed" in Trollish.
- In Portal 2, Wheatley has a bit of Spanish dialogue. The Spanish translates to "You are using the translation software incorrectly. Please consult the manual." If you set the language to Spanish, he'll say the line in English.
- The arcade game Metal Slug 2 starts out in a Middle-Eastern desert town filled with Arabic signs. At the end of the level, where the first boss is fought, two massive banners dominate the street in the background, stating (in Arabic) "I have diarrhea" and "I need medicine."
- Freedom Fighters had some odd and/or awkward Russian-to-English moments. "First Hitting Brigade, GO!" being probably the champion. The funniest, however, was probably a poster, in parody of the famous Uncle Sam Wants You posters, stating that "The Red Army offers you wonderful opportunity." Small Cyrillic print in the bottom left corner of said poster revealed that said opportunity mainly consists of "Russian vodka".
- The Commander Keen computer games featured a language named the "Standard Galactic Alphabet" that was just coded symbols corresponding to English letters. In the first game, you'd run across signs that, when decoded, said things like "This is neat" and "Behold the holy pogo stick". The coded alphabet remained consistent throughout the entire series.
- Hidden in one of the levels in Commander Keen 2note is a misspelled Precision F-Strike, written in SGA, made of yellow platforms in a field of red platforms. "FUCL" (rhymes with "buckle") has since become a meme in the Commander Keen community.
- A handy SGA-to-English cipher was offered in the secret level of Commander Keen 3. Upon its discovery many a game of Commander Keen 1 and 2 was replayed, and many a comprehension was made.
- Hitman: Blood Money has newspapers reporting on your deeds after each level, many in foreign languages. The foreign ones are full of jokes. For instance, in Spanish one says "No tengo ninguna pista que ha escrito", which is incorrect grammar for "I have no clue what I've written." (It should be "No tengo ni idea de lo que acabo de escribir.") Another, oddly, says "Read a book or play outside; to play a game will only make you dumber."
- Just Cause 2. Many names of locales in Panau are rooted in Indonesian or Malay. Most appear to be mundane and crude translations, but a handful of names were obviously conceived for comedic effect, such as the "Awan Cendawan Power Plant" or "Kem Gunung Belakang Patah".
- While the baddies in Resident Evil 4 and 5 mostly just employ Enemy Chatter in other languages, there is one instance in 4 that counts a bilingual bonus: some Zealots in Salazar's castle will wander around muttering the word "Cerebros" over and over, which is a cheeky Shout-Out to zombie flicks like Return of the Living Dead, since it means "Brains" in English.
- Jade Empire features a pair of guard golems who can be disabled if you use the correct password. The password is 'xiaohua', which, if spoken with the correct tones, simply means 'joke' in Mandarin Chinese.
- The later Elder Scrolls games contain a book called "N'Gasta Kvata Kvakis", which is found in many Necromancers' lairs. The book appears to be gibberish. In reality, it's slightly modified Esperanto. The translation is just the description of an Esperanto newsletter.
- In Sam and Max: Reality 2.0 Bosco revealed the name of his "safe" bank as bancolavadero.com, in Spanish "lavadero" is a water sink used to wash clothes and the popular name for shady businesses which do money laundering.
- Thanks to its setting, the Monkey Island series is rife with this. Just to give an example, one of the central antagonists in Tales of Monkey Island is named Marquis De Singe ('singe' being French for 'monkey', which Guybrush lampshades by calling him "De Monkey" in the fourth chapter)
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, in the Picus Montreal offices, you can find several e-mails written in French, with no in-game translation (unlike the accurately-accented Mandarin Chinese conversations in Hengsha). They deal with Picus' role in manipulating the truth and public opinion (with one Picus employee having doubts about if he's doing the right thing)... and a guy who wants his chair back.
- Splinter Cell Chaos Theory has a Japanese gang with a name that translates to "Red Herring", thus hinting at the later developments.
[After Sam asks for a translation]
Civilian: It's a kind of fish. A small, silvery fish.
Sam: You mean a herring?
Civilian: Yes! YES! That's it! That's the word! Red Herring!
- In Xenoblade, the symbols that appear on the Monado are Chinese characters/Kanji that correspond with whatever power the wielder is using at the moment. Initially, the symbol that appears the most in cutscenes is "Machine," referring to the blade's ability to pierce Mechon armor. Later symbols include "Man," when Zanza upgrades the Monado to be able to damage organic beings as well in order to counter the Faced Mechon, and "God," when Shulk acquires the True Monado at the end of the game and wields it against Zanza himself.
- In the game Xenosaga, Albedo refers to MOMO with the term "Ma belle pêche"; which literally translates into "My beautiful/lovely peach", since MOMO means "peach" in Japanese.
- Mass Effect:
- In Mass Effect 1, shutting down the Rogue VI on Luna causes a message to pop up in binary. If you can read it, it translates to HELP. Especially poignant since it's revealed two games later that the "rogue VI" was recovered by Cerberus and eventually became EDI.
- A bittersweet one: the quarian homeworld, Rannoch, orbits a star named Tikkun, which is Hebrew for "repair". And sure enough, in Mass Effect 3, you get to repair relations between the quarians and the geth.
- Every character in the Wii version of Punch-Out!! speaks in the language of their country, creating a lot of opportunities for this (including one Getting Crap Past the Radar moment when Great Tiger tells Mac to go suck on his mother's teat in Hindu.)
- Since Cold Fear takes place on a Russian tanker, all the signs are in Russian. If you look at a plot-relevant sign in first person the main character will give an abridged translation, but if you can actually can read Russian yourself a lot of the ignored signs give huge hints to you.
- In the background of the main menu of Star Wars: Jedi Academy, text in the cypher of Aurebesh scrolls past. Translating it yields an advertisement for the game, ending with, "And yes, this really does say something if you translate it."
- In the NES game Zombie Nation, you control a giant samurai head destroying everything. The samurai's name is Namakubi, which is Japanese for a freshly severed head.
- This strip of Irregular Webcomic! for Quebecois French speakers is ostensibly an extended joke about a mountie, a lumberjack etc etc etc walk into a bar. The second panel actually reads "This comic's author doesn't speak French. He just asked a volunteer from Internet forums to translate a few lines of dialogue for him"—Of course, part of the joke is that the French in question is riddled with obvious mistakes—and the fourth panel reads "Next time you want someone to translate your stupid jokes, please offer me something for my efforts, [expletive!]
- Unshelved used Braille once. The characters in the strip comment that whatever it being said is gross and that you can't say that in a webcomic. It actually translates to "soon the full text of every overdue comic strip will be available on our website so that everybody can enjoy them." note
- Stand Still, Stay Silent is generally in English, but sometimes characters (all Scandinavians) speak in their native tongues. It's sometimes funny, and sometimes it's hidden Nightmare Fuel.
- Tuuri and Lalli's conversation in Finnish roughly translates to "I see some mountains... and more mountains... and a funny rock... and mountains".
- Lalli's plead to Moon Goddes is written in Finnish so that it'd keep Kalevala's rythm. Minna wrote in The Rant what it's about, but only Finnish fans can admire entire version (at least until they translated it for others).
- The Black Speech radio in chapter two. Swedish speakers can see phrases "who am (I)", "sorry", "beware" and repeating "no no no".
- Troll that attacks the Dalhalsen says "help me" in Swedish, which told readers that victims of Rash Illness are still conscious.
- Rock Paper Cynic contains a strip that, according to the author, contrasts black humour with infantile joy by exploiting the Language Barrier between French and English. The strip has two separate scripts, running side by side, one in each language. The English is innocent and fairy tale like, while the French veers into darker territory.
- Specifically, the French story goes: "Bertrand was a blueberry. He was suspicious of the English-speaking population. He was a bit racist. He prayed to the gods to massacre his enemies, and one day... he saw them all die."
- Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki has this as well. The runes on Yuuki's belt? A contraceptive spell. Just remember that Yuuki is a gender changed, magical girl who gets into more "situations"" than the average person, and this could manifest as Fridge Brilliance.
- Homestuck has an interesting case with The Troll alphabet. It's actually upside-down Daedric Alphabet from The Elder Scrolls. The first name suggestion translates as "Turdodor Fuckball." The "real" name, however, translates as "Trollplanet" which is an accurate description of the world... but which makes the caption a blatant lie, because it claims the guess was exactly right... and that the name of the world is Alternia. The attempted insulting name for Karkat translates as "Bulgereek Nookstain". During their fight scenes, the word "GRIEF" appears instead of the kids' STRIFE.
- With the introduction of Damara Megido, who speaks mostly Japanese (albeit Google Translated-Japanese) and little English, Homestuck now has Bilingual Bonus with an Earth language.
- This xkcd has a Bilingual Bonus in the alt-text in Lojban. It roughly translates as "Fedora man is going to conquer the world." Roughly, though, since you know how imprecise English is. It actually roughly means that he's teasing, but can we still be friends?
- In the beginning of Issue #12 of The Dreamer, Benjamin Tallmadge says to Nathan Hale in Latin, "Poena absentiae non excusandae probatio collegii dies quinque et admonitio publica est. Decem pro furciferis Linoniae."note
- In this strip of Penny Arcade, the Mandalorian roughly translates to: Train your sons to be strong, but your daughters to be stronger, learn mandoa fool. Now hands up how many had to use Google translate or similar to get that?
- A minor one, but in this Darths & Droids comic, the title is in binary. When translated to ascii, it reads "Sunset."
- Which is hilarious because Tatooine is a binary star system. It really is a binary sunset.
- In this strip of Ctrl+Alt+Del, Lucas' binary quote translates to "get lost, fucktard".
- In a strip of Chopping Block, Butch meets a French speaker who he thinks is either telling him to kill for Beelzebub, or asking where the bathroom is — he opts for the first to be safe. If you understand the French, it turns out that, against all odds and logic, Butch actually guessed right..
- Toki No Tanaka presents all of its background text (signs, etc.) in untranslated Japanese, so this is a common occurrence. Translating the school signs in this page, for example, reveals one to be called "Snow Wood Boarding School" and the other "Tinkle Elementary".
- "Rosa Amarilla" is Spanish for "yellow rose," which is in turn a symbol for friendship. In Zombie Ranch, Suzie's mistrust for Rosa during their first meeting is doubly compounded when you know that Rosa just gave a potential business partner an obviously false name calculated specifically to inspire trust.
- In Harbourmaster, the "Pulp" storyline features a Fish out of Temporal Water, Richard Stevenson, who doesn't know Standard but does know a little bit of French — a language which the protagonist, Governor Tal Monteblanc, speaks fluently. When the story switches from Richard's viewpoint to the locals', the author drops the Translation Convention for a few pages ... and in the words of one fluent-in-French commenter:
aahahahaha, oh man, I started at Richard's speech bubble
I had to reread it three times before getting it
I'm not criticising just deeply amused: you weren't kidding when you said he was supposed to be bad
- In the Whateley Universe, the story "Quoth the Ninja, Nevermore!" has a Bilingual Bonus. The superpowered ninjas raiding the school (as a Yama Dojo graduation exercise) form a Five-Man Band, and their names are all jokes in Japanese. Their given names are all types of food, as in tons of anime, while their last names all have hidden meanings.
- While RAKSA of Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-RAKSA is the nickname of Rakion Kalsa, Malay speakers can tell that this novel revolves around mercury.
- From the Ask Crapplejack blog: When Applejack arrives in Falkath with the Merchant from Perseth, he approaches the customs agent at the docks claiming to sell 3,000 metaunits of concentrated malus domestica, to which the agent replies "What a vile fluid, however legal". Malus Domestica is actually the name for the common apple.
- H+ has several characters who speak Finnish, then there is a lot of Italian going around, both of which, if you understand the language, gives you an idea of things going on in the background.
- In Demo Reel, Rebecca's Italian bosses call her a "stunad", which she happily thinks is their language word for "bright". In context, it really means "bimbo who'll take the fall when they get found out".
- In The Time... Guys, Dr. Chronos is very bad at Spanish, as seen in "Dinner... TIME".
Doc: Ah, mi hijo! How was your español testículo? [Translation: Ah, my son! How was your testicle Spanish?]
- In The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Last Airbender, the Japanese in the intro parody reads "This movie sucks."
- Filthy Frank does this often with Japanese. While his "Japanese 101" videos always have valid Japanese, his other videos often include lines which are deliberately translated as something else in the on-screen subtitles.
Subtitles: Are you ready to have some fun? I sure am!
Frank: (in Japanese) There are two Jews in my closet. They're both dead.
- Ninjabridge has Haku, who does the same as above, all the time no less.note
Subtitles: NOW where is he?!
Haku: (in Japanese) Big boobs are good!
- The disclaimer for Episode 7 was supposedly read out by Haku, although in reality he was reading the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in Japanese.
- South Park:
- In the episode "Good Times With Weapons" the kids are playing with the weapons and imagine themselves as anime characters, complete with a song in Japanese made by Trey Parker (who speaks fluent Japanese), "Let's Fighting Love". The song also has several odd statements in Gratuitous English (including the titular line), and most of the song is profane (but grammatically correct) nonsense and the singer admitting how bad the song and his English are. (You can find a translation here.)
- Japanese jokes aplenty in "Chinpokomon" – Chinpoko is Japanese for "very small penis."
- Several episodes feature a fictional video game console, the Okama Gamesphere. "Okama" being Japanese slang for "gay man."
- In "Chickenlover", the alphabet poster above the school blackboard reads "DiOsMiOhAnMaTaDoHaKeNnYbAsTaRdOs", which is Spanish for "Oh my God, they killed Kenny, you bastards".
- The stop sign that Barbrady sees is 멍청이, Korean for idiot.
- Also in Pinkeye, the button the Cosmonauts accidentally press to crash the Mir space station is labelled "hoopsie" in Cyrillic script— a possible transliteration of either "oopsie" or "whoopsie".
- The running commentary of Butters crossing the border in "Last of the Meheecans" refers to Cartman primarily as "gordo" ("the fat one").
- 'Mantequilla', Butters' pseudonym in the episode, is Spanish for 'butter'.
- In Futurama when Amy Wong gets mad, she will often speak Chinese in a tone implying that she's swearing. However, she's actually saying very innocuous phrases and just using an angry tone.
- Binary code is also used with Bender here and there; among other things, his apartment in "I, Brobot" reads '$', and a binary message in blood in "The Honking" is the number 666.
- In one episode of the new (2010) series, the crew travels in time and Prof. Farnsworth takes a stop to kill Adolf Hitler. Just before Farnsworth's death ray blows him up, Hitler is yelling in an official speech: "Betrachten Sie meinen Schnurrbart!" "Observe my moustache!"
- Beast Wars has Cybertronix, a simple substitution cypher. Sometimes it's used for gibberish, sometimes it's plot relevant, and sometimes it's just used for in-jokes and Getting Crap Past the Radar. For example this◊ actually translates to "If you can read this seek help"
- In the episode "Here There Be Dwarves" of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy the dwarves shout "Lave sus Manos!" as a battle cry. Those who understand Spanish knows it translates to "Wash your hands".
- In the episode "My Peeps", while Grim is zapping Billy's eyes to try and fix them, Billy briefly sees Grim and Mandy in an Animesque style, and Mandy says "His eyes aren't fixed yet" in Japanese.
- In The Critic, Vlada's restaurant is named L'ane Riche, which is French for "The Wealthy Jackass."
- Family Guy episode "McStroke" has an Italian guy tells Peter he is crazy for faking Italian.
- All the signs in Asiantown are nonsense. The "Chinese Takeout" has the exact same English words written below it in Japanese letters, and one street sign says "I love you". Other store signs say "1234567" or "Monday"
- In Halloween on Spooner Street, the line Quagmire says his Japanese grandfather used to say translates to "As long as a man has pearls between his toes, he will never be poor."
- During a scenario where Hitler has a talk show, the phone number includes Hitler screaming "DU WERDEST EINE KRANKENSCHWESTE BRAUCHEN!" note , which translates to "You will need a nurse."
- In one episode of American Dad!, Steve is deceived by Roger to think he has been accepted in Hogwarts really Roger just sent him with drug dealers, one of them told Steve "Lavate las manos" which he believed to be a spell, actually was "Wash your hands" in Spanish.
- Another episode features a running gag involving a fictional Spanish-speaking singer named Cilantro. One of Cilantro's songs plays during an action sequence and the song consists of Seth MacFarlane spouting phrases such as "The cat is the devil" in Spanish, over and over again.
- Literally, the song goes, The dog, the dog, is my heart, the cat, the cat, the cat is not good. Cilantro dances a lot, Cilantro is very famous, Cilantro is the man with the cheese of the devil.
- Phineas and Ferb: The show's creator voices the Not-German character Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and knows German himself, which has actually led to them getting to say, "Perry the Platypus, you scared the shit out of me!" in German.
- In Summer Belongs to You!, Jeremy goes to Paris and stays at an Hotel called "La Poubelle", which is french for "The Trash Can".
- Done in Adventure Time. Lady Rainicorn, Jake and Finn are sitting together, and telling jokes. There is a significant problem here, as Rainicorn speaks only Korean. Rainicorn is asked to tell a joke. Her reply causes Jake to blush, and he quickly makes the excuse that there is a translation barrier. Her 'joke', translated, is "Remember when we ran naked through that field? That farmer was so offended!"
- Which is funny, because Jake and Lady Rainicorn never wear clothes.
- Runs in the episode Into the Nightosphere, where at one point Jake randomly belts out "Jouzu de Ganbate ne," which is loosely Japanese for "You try your best very well."
- In a Mysterio episode of The Spectacular Spider Man, he is chanting in Latin to summon various spells/illusions. Translated, he is saying things that make sense for the sleep and lightning spells, but for the disappearing spell he chants "Thank you for not smoking", then "I believe that Elvis is still alive" for the dragon-summoning spell, and "I can't get no﻿ satisfaction" for the Homunculi-summoning spell.
- One episode of King of the Hill revolves around Enrique and his marital problems. When Hank takes Enrique to confront his wife, Yolanda, they start arguing in Spanish. They say some pretty amusing things, like Yolanda complaining that Enrique was always going on about how great Hank is. "*makes kissy noises* Hank is strong, Hank is fun!"
- An episode of Rocko's Modern Life had Rocko, Heffer and Filbert watching a Spanish soap opera in which a man is tearfully telling a woman something that translates into "Maria, this book is late, I must go to the library."
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Pox", one of the cutie marks Apple Bloom gets makes her compulsively speak French. The first thing out of her mouth translates as "Good grief, another cutie mark! What is this, I'm speaking French?!"
- There's one overlapping with Meaningful Name in an episode of Inspector Gadget, with a character named Iji Waruda-san who is the Japanese counterpart of Doctor Claw. Iji Waruda sounds like a plausible Japanese name to the uninitiated, but it's simply a rearranging of the phrase "Ijiwaru Da", which can be translated to English as the blatantly appropriate "I am malicious."
- Both Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra use Chinese characters for all in-universe writing. Typically everything said on them is read aloud by the characters, but some which aren't can give insight to the story, if translated.
- One example unrelated to writing comes up when Zuko, hiding in the Earth Kingdom, gives his uncle the alias "Mushi", to which Iroh reacts in irritation. "Mushi" is Japanese for "insect", so it's understandable why Iroh wouldn't like that name.
- The Other Wiki has this.
- During the Iranian hostage crisis (1979-80), one of the U.S. Marine embassy guards wrote patriotic and anti-Iranian slogans on the walls of his cell, in Spanish. His captors could not read them, and it did not occur to them to ask what the words meant.