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Sometimes one will find that in a work where the Translation Convention
is otherwise in effect or which offers translations of the important information will either suspend the convention or omit translation for the sake of including messages "hidden in plain view" by being expressed or written in another language. This ostensibly makes said messages available only to those viewers, players or readers that have sufficient knowledge of the language in question. This often coincides with Ominous Latin Chanting
(which, if translated, might sound about as ominous as reading street addresses from a telephone book); in Video Games
specifically, this is often concurrent with Enemy Chatter
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.
This trope is not "This work happens to have a foreign language in it." It is "Hidden message in foreign language that is different from what might normally be expected in the context."
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Anime & Manga
- In one episode of Azumanga Daioh, Kurosawa-sensei is horrified that she is unable to understand anything of the math homework the girls are doing, which Yukari exploits to show off her incredible English skills (with her growing to giant size, an ocean parting to her sides, and a thunderstorm above her). The actual english is horrible, but appears to be a plea to Japanese people to overcome their fear of making mistakes, which makes them avoiding learning foreign languages altogether.
- 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.
- One episode features a GEHIRN report in English. Freeze-framing it reveals a short written history of Studio Gainax with periodic in-universe terms in all caps.
- In Welcome to the NHK the main character prances through half the series wearing sweatshirts with the mysterious letters XYN – actually, a corruption of Russian "хуй" (spells out "huj" pronouned 'hui' in Cyrillic). This just happens to be one of the few absolutely taboo words in the Russian language, literally the male penis, but also ranging in meaning from "fuck off" to "cunt" (the insult, not the matching organ) depending on context.
- Galaxy Angel does this in an episode where Forte is turned into a guy. Ranpha gives Forte a love letter in English. When Forte reads out loud in Japanese it sounds perfectly normal, however, the text on the letter itself is nothing but stock reports, making the joke much funnier.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, all books are written in English. If you ignore the occasional alchemical array, they are copied verbatim from Dungeons & Dragons player's manuals. Specifically, articles concerning alchemy.
- A military document has an excerpt from Ripley's Twelve Gates, a 16th century treatise on alchemy. Which excerpt? The one the that happens to also appear on the human transmutation circle.
- Similar to the Fullmetal Alchemist example, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has two such instances of random English text. In the first, a medical readout on Heero is actually the readme file for Photoshop's TWAIN plugin. In the second, the blueprints for Sandrock contain a number of Shout Outs to Mobile Suit Gundam, including references to Gundarium and the ALICE AI system from Gundam Sentinel.
- When you think about how TWAIN in Photoshop stands for "Thing Without An Interesting Name", Heero certainly falls under suspicion.
- In one point in the Master Mosquiton OAV, Saint Germaine is trying to convince Schrodinger (of Schrodinger's cat fame) to join his cause. Schrodinger throws a die, which rolls over the book he's reading; it is, verbatim, a page from a 3D modeling software instruction manual.
- In the second season of Emma, episode 3, when William's father summons him to his study, there is a brief establishing shot of the account book he's been reading over, with entries all in English. All of them are Beatles songs.
- The three Zentradi spies from Super Dimension Fortress Macross are named Warera, Loli, and Conda, which put together reads as, "We have a Lolita Complex" in Japanese... whether or not they actually do is open to debate. In the Robotech version they are called Bron, Rico, and Konda instead.
- In Macross Frontier, the on-screen displays populated with English filler text use completely irrelevant excerpts from, for example, the Adobe Flash Player (or Adobe CS?) EULA and an article about the appearance of Oakley sunglasses in some bicycle or motorcycle event.
- Except in the Sayonara no Tsubasa movie, Sheryl Nome's profile displayed is an extract from the wiki article.
- 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".
- Fairy Tail has a Shrouded in Myth Master of Illusion S Class Mage by the name of Mystogan (Mist Gun). In the High School AU OVA, he's the school gardener, and carries a pair of squirt bottles everywhere he goes.
- In Nabari No Ou, when Raimei and Raikou fight for the first time, Gau is listening to Strauss’s “Unter Donner und Blitz", which is German for “Under Thunder and Lightning”. Incidentally, Raimei's name means "thunder", while Raikou's name means "lightning". And what happens "under" thunder and lightning is a rain shower... in other words, Gau.
- Rental Magica has a Whole Episode Flashback, showing Adilicia's and Honami's past. A gravestone there has clearly legible text written on it in English. Problem is, the text is written with Norse runes. If you can read them, you'll find a few rows of Bible verses, Psalms 22:15-16 and 81:1-4 more specifically.
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, all of the protagonists occasionally speak different languages, which are represented in the English version by Kurogane speaking in kanji and nonsense symbols, and Fai speaking in Cyrillic gibberish. In this case only the nonsense symbols apply for this trope, since the kanji are generally relevant to the situation, and if one can read them, provide hints as to what he's actually saying.
- In Detective Conan (aka Case Closed), Haibara has the story of Momotaro on her computer. Twice.
- 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.
- 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:
IF YOU HAVE TAKEN THE TIME TO TRANSLATE THIS ENTIRE MENU PLEASE TRY TO DEVOTE AND EQUAL AMOUNT OF TIME TO MORE IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE EXCERCISE OR GOOD CONVERSATIONS AMONG FRIENDS OR LOOKING AT SUNSETS OR TELLING THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM" . "THIS MESSAGE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE WRITER THE CHILDRENS [sic] TELEVISION WORKSHOP AND THE LETTER O". "BY THE WAY MICHELLE AND DREA AND SHELLY AND CHRIS AND EVINRUDE I LOVE YOU ALL" . "WRITER KEVIN MARANGONnote SOCIALIST KARL MARX.
- A recurring character in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is the surgeon Dr. Hundtkinder. The name can be translated as "dog child"... or "son of a bitch". Larry Hama really likes these kinds of puns and bonuses.
- 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.
- One diminutive, villainous Roman is named "Caligula Minus". Obviously 'Minus' means lesser and 'Caligula' is the nickname of the legendary ancient Roman tyrant, but 'Caligula' literally means 'little boots', fitting how extremely small he is.
- 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.
- 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.
- Company0051 is a Fan Webcomic about the Master Chief struggling through a forced retirement. Quite fittingly, the planet that he's stationed on, Noiosi, is Italian for "boring."
- Slide, a Mega Crossover starring only literary characters, is set in the city of Irudimena (Basque for "imagination"), specifically in Logotechnia (Greek for "literature") and Antzerkia (Basque for "theatre"). People who live in Antzerkia are literary characters from books adapted to movies.
- Many, many examples in The Lion King Adventures. The names of animals and objects are all Swahili, each with a meaning to them.
- Haiba means "charming".
- Pori means "wild".
- Vimelea means "parasite".
- Muerto means "dead" in Spanish.
- Hekima means "wisdom".
- Aibu means "shame".
- Virusi means "virus".
- Tuhuma means "suspicious".
- Mjanja means "sneaky".
- Nyoka means "snake".
- Wazimu Mwanasayansi means "mad scientist".
- Amri means "command".
- And many more...
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.
Films — Live-Action
- 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. In Spanish, this means "The Taste of Loneliness"
- 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.
- In 1974, Match Game on CBS had the host of the German edition in the audience. It was then learned that "blank" in German is "schnik schnak," so for the rest of the show, Gene Rayburn used "schnik schnak" instead of "blank" for all the questions.
- 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."
- In the episode "An Affair To Forget", a viewer who understands German or especially Spanish will get the episode's major punchline several minutes before it's revealed in English.
- There's also the episode where Frasier and Niles have a conversation in French to confuse Eddie.
- 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 line Soy un perdidor It translates "I am a loser".
- The Clash song Spanish Bombs which contain refrain Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito, oh, te quiero, oh mí corazon (Spanish bombs, I love you infitinely, 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.
- The English version of Sabaton's song The Carolean's Prayer has some Ominous Chanting in the background. The chant is the same in the Swedish version, and the lyrics are "the Lord's Prayer" in Swedish.
- 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" resang two lines later in French: "Son les mots qui von tres bien ensemble."
- Earlier, the group did German versions of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" ("Komm Gib Mir Diene Hand") and "She Loves You" ("Sie Liebt Dich").
- 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.
: Ou est la plume de ma tante? Monsieur, ou est la plume de ma tante?note Izzard
: La plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante.note Tape
: Oui, la plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante. note Izzard
: How does this tape know what I'm talking about? Tape
: Ou est la plume de mon oncle? note Izzard
: La plume de mon oncle est bingy bongy boogy bongy. note Tape
: Non! Pas de tout! Je ne me connais pas bingy bongy boogy bongy! Qu'est-ce que vous dites?! Vous est un putain!note Izzard
: Je suis pas un putain. Je n'avais pas le sexe pour l'argent. Que c'est vous dites, vous cassette? note Tape
: Oh, oh pardon. Je suis désolé. Vous avez raison. [singing] Je suis seulement pauvre cassette. Et je, je n'avais pas le pantalon. note
Tape: Wo ist das Kind, mein Herr? Wo ist das Kind? note
Izzard: Das Kind ist in dem Flughafen. note
Tape: Ja, das Kind ist in dem Flughaben. Aber warum? note
Izzard: Well, I’m not really sure. Perhaps he likes the airplanes.
- And yet again in his Dress To Kill tour, when he discusses visiting France:
Bonjour. Je suis anglais. Je suis ici en vacances. C'est très belle ici, les couleurs, les bois; ah, très belle. note
Tu es un travesti?note
Oui, je suis un travesti, mais pas un travesti typical[sic]. Je suis un travesti executif... un travesti d'action.note
Très bien. note Mais la souris est en dessous de la table, le chat est sur la chaise, et le singe...le singe est disparu! note
Oh, le singe est là-bas. Regarde! Il est sur une bicyclette, il joue au banjo[sic], il fume une pipe. Maintenant il arrête, il lit un journau[sic], et maintenant il est dans l'autobus... il conduit l'autobus, and et Sandra Bullock est dans l'autobus. Il ya une bombe dans l'autobus.
Il faut conduire l'autobus plus de cinquante kilomètres par l'heure, et Keanu Reeves, il arrive dans la voiture...il n'a pas de cheveux, et Jeff Daniels est déjà mort. Et regarde! Il essaie à se jette[sic] dans l'autobus. Et Dennis Hopper, oh, Dennis Hopper, quel méchant! note
- 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. Cest 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
- 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).
- W.S.Gilbert wrote a Latin chorus for the monks that march mysteriously through the opening song of ''The Mountebanks'' (1892). However, the lyrics are, in fact, grumbling about how awful it is to be a monk.
- 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.
- 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.
- The circa-1993 Finnish game Stardust named its Distressed Damsel after a local brand of margarine and the final dungeon after the makers' hometown.
- In World of Warcraft, with in-game languages. Every character knows two languages: their faction language and their racial language (except for orcs and humans, whose languages are used as faction languages for the Horde and Alliance respectively). Since some enemy NPCs in the game speak exclusively racial languages, only players of the corresponding race will have the Enemy Chatter rendered into English via Translation Convention — others will see gibberish.
- Hostile Troll NPCs in the Dwarvish starting area will shout out "Don't be stealin my weed" in Trollish.
- Starcraft's Expansion Pack's teaser movie was filled with Latin chanting about preparing for battle and praying for victory, as well as even-more-ominous French chanting about how victory is sure—just as the soldiers are callously abandoned by The Cavalry to be devoured by the Zerg.
- 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."
- This even goes so far as to make it a Bilingual Bonus when playing the game in Spanish by saying the phrase in English. Team Fortress 2 does the same with Spy's lines spoken in French; if the player is playing with the French language on, his French lines are spoken in English.
- Also, in the credits, the turret song is apparently just a pun, but the lyrics, in Italian, are extremely appropriate.
- 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.
- Journey's One-Woman Wail credits song, I Was Born For This, consists of lyrics not only from many different languages but derived from several classic sources:
Stat sua cuique dies To each his day is given
(Latin, The Aeneid
Aleto men moi nostos Lost is my homecoming
(Greek, The Iliad
C’est pour cela que je suis née I was born for this
(French, Joan of Arc
Kono michi ya, Yuku hito nishi ni
Kono michi ya, Aki no kure Along this road, goes no one Along this road, this Autumn eve
(Japanese, Matsuo Basho
C’est pour cela que je suis née, ne me plaignez pas
C’est pour cela que je suis née I was born for this, do not pity me I was born for this
(French, Joan of Arc
- 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 Muramasa: The Demon Blade, the female PC is a princess, in a peach colored kimono. Her name, Momohime, means 'Peach Princess'. Peach Princess, eh?.
- 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!
- "Liberi Fatali," the opening theme of Final Fantasy VIII, includes Ominous Latin Chanting which subtly foreshadows the plot of the game, namely that the Gardens were founded specifically to train the Legendary SeeD who will defeat Ultimecia.
- In The Wonderful 101, all of the GEATHJERK federation have rather oddball names, but by the time you get to the multi-headed dragon called 'Ohrowchee', you'll realize that all of their names are meant to invoke Japanese words. They continue in a similar pattern until the final boss, who calls Earth 'CHI-Q', pronouncing each letter separately. Read as a single word, it sounds similar to and echos 'chikyuu', the Japanese word for Earth.
- In Xenoblade, the symbols that appear on the Monado are Chinese letters 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 abiltiy 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.
- A more bittersweet one in Mass Effect: 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.)
- Dumbing of Age gives us Marcie, who is mute and speaks in ASL.
- 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]!"
- Irregular Webcomic! author David Morgan-Mar and others had a half-baked idea to launch a site dedicated to half-baked ideas called "mezzacotta". Mezza cotta is Italian for half-baked.
- 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
- 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.
- The Wotch gives us the character Ivan Bezdomny. His last name is the Polish or Russian word for homeless.
- The original Ivan Bezdomny from The Master and Margarita was a parody on contemporary poets and writer: Bedny, Golodny and Gorky — "poor", "hungry" and "bitter".
- 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.
- In Cuanta Vida, the BLU Spy is called "Bleu". Bleu means blue in French, but also means rookie. Bleu is a Naïve Newcomer.
- The Fox Sister: For Korean speakers, Soot Bull's name will reveal a Punny Name.
- The Senkari has Runes, German, French and even some Latin appearing untranslated at times.
- Sturgeon's Law has Pierce mention that he was a formerly as senior vice president at Apate Industries. 'Apate' is Greek for (and the name of the god of) deceit or fraud.
- In the Harbourmaster storyline "Pulp", the twentieth-century American mountaineer Richard Stevenson doesn't understand Standard — the language spoken on Tethys, where the story takes place — so Tal ends up communicating with him in French. Partway through that chapter, the author starts showing the reader the actual French that Tal and Richard are using to communicate.
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
- 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".
- In ARCHON, non-human first names tend to be words in another language. Notably elven names are Welsh and orkish names are German. Overlaps with Meaningful Name.
- 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.
- Mystery Guitar Man's first line in almost all of his videos is in Portuguese, some are specific references only Brazilians will understand. And while there are English subtitles in his videos, the line in Portuguese is never translated nor written.
- From SCP Foundation, SCP-335 is a set of 150 Magic Floppy Disks, with names written on them. The last one has the Japanese name "Hajime," which means "first."
- This lolcat◊.
"What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish?"
- Baseball player Yunel Escobar made an interesting choice with his eyeblack.
- The software company Piriform makes freeware cleanup tools, including Recuva, a tool for recovering lost files after you accidentally delete them. Piriform is Latin for "pear-shaped", British slang for Gone Horribly Wrong. (The company logo is also pear-shaped, confirming that this is intentional.)
- Every New Zealand government department is given an English name and a Māori name. Inland Revenue, which administers tax collection in the country, got given a Māori name meaning "The Depatment [of] Tax", which unfortunately translates as "Te Tari Tāke"note . Cue whenever there is a tax increase, some cartoonist will call it Te Tari "Take Take Take".
- The Other Wiki has this.