Gru: You are a beautiful woman... do you speak Spanish?A hidden message in a foreign language. This ostensibly makes these 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, Klingon, D'ni from the Myst verse, et cetera. Contrast Bilingual Backfire.
Mrs. Hattie: Do I look like I speak Spanish?
Gru: You have a face... como un burro.
Mrs. Hattie: Do I look like I speak Spanish?
Gru: You have a face... como un burro.
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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 Sunday Without God, 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!noteAnais: Pardon?Thing: What?Anais: You said "foutre". I think you meant to say, "Il est temps de battre!"Thing: Oh. I guess I got excited.Anais: Apparently so.
- 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 "Horse 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 EXERCISE 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.
- 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.
- 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 gratuitous-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.
- In King of the Monsters, one of Godzilla's many titles is the "Jaeger von Jaegers", which is (grammatically incorrect) German for "Hunter of Hunters" (It should read something like '(Der) Jäger der Jäger' instead). It's doubly meaningful, considering that it is a Fusion Fic between Godzilla and Pacific Rim.
- In The Elements Of Friendship, much of Twilight's German exclamations are this. Before the writer enlisted a German speaker, though, it was Gratuitous German.
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
- When Peter Jackson redid King Kong (2005), just before reaching Skull Island, SS Venture captain Englehorn intercepts a coded message calling for the arrest of Carl Denham (Jack Black). Yet the audible code does not actually say anything about an arrest and instead reads: “Show me the monkey!”
- In Easy A, Olive Penderghast is reading The Scarlet Letter in school, and acknowledging that her life is slowly turning into the novel. At one point she goes to see a foreign film, but can't read the German title, so she has no idea what movie she's about to see. The title is Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe, which of course means The Scarlet Letter.
- In the Hindi movie Housfull 2, the lady playing Anarkali for JD says, "I love fools!" when she receives a flower from him. If you know Hindi, you'll understand flower = phool, which is commonly said as "fool". Therefore, "I love fools!" = "I love flowers!"
- Towards the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka reads off a legal contract to Charlie and Grampa Joe, attempting to explain why they supposedly didn't get the prize. Part of the contract is in Latin (presumably an Affectionate Parody of all the Latin in real legal jargon), and it reads: "Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum... memo bis punitor delicatum." This translates roughly as: "To cultivate the burning torch of the mind... mentioned twice for the punisher's pleasure."
- In Euro Trip, at least one German singer in the background belts out a song whose only lyric is "Du kannst mich nichts verstehen" ("You can't understand me). Which is true, if you don't speak German. There's also a kind of subversion on the ladies' nude beach in France – two girls are talking and when one answers "Oui" (French for "yes") they translate it with "Let's make out".
- Johnny English has one scene in a sushi restaurant. Johnny toasts with "May your daughters have tiny penises." The American subtitle translation reads, "May all of your daughters be born with three bottoms."
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Fetchez la vache" (Go fetch the cow, in Franglais).note What the monks are chanting throughout is a quotation from Dies Irae (from the 13th century, another anachronism) and translates to "Merciful [or Pious] Lord Jesus, grant them rest."note
- A Fish Called Wanda contains several funerals for small yapping dogs, featuring a choir that sings "Lord have mercy, the dog is dead" in Latin. Also, the Russian that Archie uses to arouse Wanda is a poem about the glory of the worker that children in the Soviet Union learned by rote.
- The Black Cat, features a stock-phrase-derived satanic invocation offering unintended laughs for anyone who understands Latin. Cum grano salis indeed! For those who don't speak Latin: it means "with a grain of salt."
- One of the short films in Chillerama, "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein", is in German. However, the actor playing Hitler is speaking entirely in gibberish (except for one line), adding to some extra humor for viewers who can understand the difference between German and random sounds. The one straight line is when he says in unsubtitled German, "I'm just an actor!" There's actually some Fridge Horror/Brilliance here. The film breaks the fourth wall multiple times. It gets to the point where you can feel like you're not watching a movie, but rather you're watching people making a movie. So when Hitler says "I'm just an actor," he's serious. The actor is actually trying to get out of the scene and is killed anyway. As are all the other actors.
- In the Jackie Chan version of Around the World in 80 Days, the Chinese man tied up in the "jail" is actually yelling "my butt really itches!" in Chinese.
- In The Mission, the locals were given free rein to say whatever they wanted in their own language. Apparently they hardly ever kept to the script and kept throwing out funny non-sequiturs or just cursing up a storm.
- In The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, there are obviously many joking lines spoken by the Russian soldiers. One example of this is, when the Russians are in an American garage, one thinks a bag is filled with grain and offers it to another. The other tastes it and proceeds to exclaim "This is SHIT!"
- The farce Top Secret is set mostly in East Germany, and has a lot of fun with characters speaking "German". Mostly they're actually speaking in either gibberish or irrelevant Yiddish curses, although there is some German as well, including this classic exchange between villain and henchman:
Streck: Make sure they leave no marks.
von Horst: (severely) Ich liebe dich, mein Schatz.note
- The Mexican restaurant in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is called "Escupimos en su Alimento," which is Spanish for "we spit in your food." In the same vein, L.A. Story includes restaurants called "El Pollo Del Mar" (Chicken of the Sea, "pollo" mispronounced to rhyme with "Apollo" of course) and "L'Idiot" (The Idiot, but from the way it's pronounced it's not obvious until you see it).
- Deaf people had the Bilingual Bonus of being able to read lips in silent films, which, since the actors in silent films often did deliberate mismatches, led to deaf people and hearing people having very different viewing experiences. (A particularly famous example is a passionate embrace and kiss on screen, but with the actress making it clear in speech what will happen if the actor drops her.) This may have inspired a moment in Singin' in the Rain where silent actors (Gene Kelly and Jean Hagen) are insulting each other while in the middle of a love scene.
- An unintentional example occurs with the majority of Yiddish cinema. Yiddish as a language is very rant-friendly, with characters in Yiddish theatre and film often adding entire tirades onto simple sentences for extra laughs. Unfortunately, when Yiddish cinema is subtitled into English it is usually done through dynamic equivalence at its most bare-bones level, only expressing the minimum of what each character is saying. Have fun going to a Jewish film festival and watching an old classic Yiddish film with a bunch of older Ashkenazi folk, and marvel at how a simple sentence translated as "I won't let you marry my daughter" brings the house down for those who can understand the original Yiddish.
- Similarly, Cheyenne Autumn featured cast members from the Navajo Nation. While the lines are subtitled for a serious conversation, they're actually making various ribald and obscene jokes about the director, crew, and various non-Navajo cast members. Navajo theater patrons cracked up.
- Heathers has J.D. telling Veronica that the bullets they intend to shoot Kurt and Ram with are German "ich lüge" bullets, which are supposedly non-fatal, so that she will go along with the shooting. Ich lüge means "I am lying" in German.
- In-universe example in The 40-Year-Old Virgin: when Paula, the store manager, reminisces about the time when she lost her virginity to a Hispanic boy, she remembers that he used to sing her a song, which he told her was a "traditional lullaby." Turns out that the lyrics are nowhere as romantic as she actually thinks they are. It translates to: "When I get to my room, I can't find anything. Where are you going in such a rush? To the soccer game."
- According to Urban Legend, the Zulu warrior in Zulu who falls dying before his chief, and who makes a heartfelt declaration of loyalty as he does so, is actually saying something along the lines of "I have an enormous penis" in Swahilinote .
- Iron Man: If you speak Urdu, you know Stane was behind Tony's kidnapping an hour before Pepper translates the ransom tape.
- Iron Man 2:
- When Tony Stark asks Natasha if she actually speaks Latin, she responds with the phrase "Fallaces sunt rerum species," a quote from Lucio Anneo Seneca meaning "The appearances of things are deceptive."
- When Vanko tells Hammer that the drones at the show won't be fully capable, he adds that they will be able to "make salute." But in Russian, salyut means fireworks. The Stark Expo turns into one hell of a fireworks show.
- John Carpenter's The Thing (1982): The Norwegian screaming at the Americans in the beginning of the film is explaining that the dog is a shapeshifting alien, which the Americans don't figure out until halfway through the film. Faced by what appears to be a madman shooting at them, the base commander guns him down.
- Dead Man uses Cree and Blackfoot. There's something insulting in Cree.
- The "Chinese" Viet Cong child in Black Dynamite tells Black Dynamite that he's full of shit.
- In Cannibal The Musical, the "Indians" (who are clearly Japanese) call their tribe The Nihonjin – "Nihonjin" is Japanese for "Japanese people". Some of their dialogue is this too – apparently there's a line that loosely translates to "this movie is really stupid!". And then there's bilingual bonus for those who know sign language: Humphrey makes some strange hand gestures while claiming to translate for the "Indians" at one point, and these gestures actually mean "Jesus Christ is dead".
- In Serenity the codephrase Simon uses to "turn off" his rampaging sister River, Eto kuram na smeh, is Russian for "That is laughter for chickens" or, more literally, "this is for the chickens to laugh at", an idiom meaning "That's ridiculous."
- In Kentucky Fried Movie's "Fistful of Yen" segment, the leader of the evil clan is played by a Korean actor. When he's shouting orders in Korean, he's actually apologizing for his Korean fans that he's in the movie, and telling them that the director just told him to say something in Korean.
- In Austin Powers, Dr. Evil says that the French would say that something has a certain "Je ne sais quoi, which means... I don't know what." Dr. Evil is admitting that he doesn't know what the French phrase means, but it actually means exactly that: "I don't know what."
- In From Paris with Love, Charlie and James go to a Chinese restaurant in Paris that is stowing cocaine in the ceiling. The restaurant's name is "Le Lotus des Neiges", which means "The Snow Lotus" in French.
- The SyFy channel adaptation of Riverworld has an airship inexplicably called "Herumfurzen", which means "farting around" in German.
- ¡Three Amigos! has a scene where Dusty, Lucky and Ned freeze to hide from two Mexican guards, one of whom is describing to the other a recipe in Spanish.
- In Confessions of a Shopaholic, main character Rebecca Bloomwood spices up her resume by claiming, falsely, that she's fluent in Finnish. After she gets the job, her skills are put to test in a cocktail party with an actual Finnish person. Not ready to admit the truth, Rebecca solves the situation by slapping the man in front of everybody and claiming that men like him are the reason she left Finland. What the man was actually saying is not exactly abusive: "Hi! So nice to meet another Finn in here! Ever since I've been here in Americ—" *slap*
- In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen we have a witch doctor at Alan's funeral. The man is busy chanting in Zulu. His chants are (translated) him saying: "Arise, son of man. Arise child. It is not yet time to rest."
- In Pacific Rim, all the Japanese lines are given subtitles... except one. Mako saying "I love you" to Stacker right before he dies.
- In Cube 2: Hypercube, the true identity of the hacker "Alex Trusk" is hinted at for anyone familiar with Slavic diminutive names, since Alex is actually Sasha, a female character whose name is the diminutive form of Alexander/Alexandra.
- Borat is an English hidden-camera film about a fictional Kazakh reporter and his producer filming what the public thinks is a "documentary", and they frequently converse with each other in Kazakh; however, no actual Kazakh language is heard in the film, since Borat's actor is speaking Hebrew and his producer Armenian. All the text in the film is in Russian and even then occasionally mis-spelled.
- In Godzilla (2014), the title of the Kaiju movie whose poster is in young Ford's room is "Let Them Fight."
- In X-Men: First Class, the Soviet Captain refers to an officer on the bridge as "tovarishch zampolit", which is (incompletely) subtitled simply as "comrade". While the word "tovarishch" does mean "comrade", the enthusiasm with which the crew later drag him off to the brig becomes understandable if one knows that zampolit is how Soviet political officers were addressed.
- In The Wolverine, Yashida's sword, the one he tries to pass on to Logan, is inscribed with kanji characters that mean "never grow old, never die".
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, 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."
- Ex Machina:
- The title is Latin for "From/out of the machine." It is also from the phrase "Deus ex Machina", literally "god from the machine".
- Invoked with the alcohol bottle labels, of all things. Nathan drinks "Keikaku" beer, which means "plan" in Japanese. And he also drinks "Koros" vodka, Koros being the Greek demon of disdain and surfeit (disgust brought about by overindulgence).
- In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, during the T-Rex's climatic rampage through San Francisco, one sees a group of Japanese business men amongst the crowd fleeing. If you know Japanese, you'll find that one of them is shouting "I left Japan to get away from this!"
- The Gods Must Be Crazy: N!xau, who plays Xi the main Nambian bushman, was not given anything specific to say for any of his lines because the narrator always explains what his character means. Consequently, many of his lines are wry complaints or commentaries about the film rather than lines appropriate for his character. For example, during his character's triumphant homecoming, he starts berating the people playing his fellow tribesmen for not all rushing out to greet him as they would be doing if this were real.
- In A Brother's Price the ex-husband of the princesses is called "Keifer". "Keifen" is German vor "to nag".
- JRR Tolkien, who was fluent in a dozen or so languages himself, probably deserves his own page. But one example: The title of "longest buildup to a pun that isn't even translated in the story itself" belongs to Akallabêth ("The Downfallen" in Adûnaic), the story of the sinking of the island Númenor. Translating Akallabêth into High Elvish yields Atalantë, which is suspiciously close to the name of a famous mythological island which also sank. Atlantis in Greek comes from a root meaning 'uplifted', which adds another layer.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events has some of Sunny's comments, such as her "arigato" in the Slippery Slope, or her saying "Aubergine" to mean that she is making a plot with this eggplant. Others are a mishmash of English ("Kicbucit?" for "Is he dead?") and a couple are plain old Hebrew ("Yomhuledet!" which is translated as "Surprise" but means "birthday" and "Yomhashoah" which is translated as "Never again" but means "Holocaust Memorial Day"). The children also make pasta Puttanesca, an Italian dish translating as "whore's sauce."
- The infamous 1955 novel Lolita was written by Vladimir Nabokov, who spoke English, French, and Russian fluently. The English edition contains numerous sentences, remarks, and pet names in French - it approaches superfluous. The narrator, being a multilingual scholar, is the primary reason for this - at one point, an entire paragraph of dramatic emotional professions is written in French.
- Terry Pratchett occasionally includes a few of these, though several of them are explained or translated later. Some of them are not, however – for example, in Soul Music, the main character Imp y Celyn talks about and later plays a song he wrote himself, titled "Sioni Bod Da." Since Soul Music is almost in its entirety a completely awesome Discworldization of the entire rock music movement in general, it should come as no surprise that there's a couple of hidden reference there. One is indirectly explained: "Imp" means Bud and "Celyn" means Holly, hence "Bud y Holly." On the other hand, Sioni Bod Da is mostly unexplained: It's Welsh for Johnny Be Good. (Read: Johnny B. Goode.)
- In the French version, Patrick Couton translated the pun in Breton: Imp y Celyn became Kreskenn Kelen and his song was called Yannick Bez Mad.
- A scene from Lords and Ladies Nanny Ogg's observation at dinner with Casanunda is an example of this trope. "She peered at the label. 'Chateau Maison? Chat-eau... that's foreign for cat's water, you know, but that's only their way, I know it ain't real cat's water." Chateau is French for "castle" (or something similar), chat is French for "cat" and eau is French for "water."
- From Making Money: "Jikan no Muda", the Discworld equivalent of Sudoku, is Japanese for "Waste of Time".
- This is a multilingual bonus in Croatian. Muda is slang for balls. Jikan (written Đikan) is pejorative for an urban hick with delusions of superiority. "Jikan no Muda" is a "Waste of Time" for "Neutered Morons".
- Recurring example: The Sto Plains. "Sto" is "hundred" in Polish. Thus there is the town of Sto Lat, which translates to "a hundred years". Sto Lat is also the name of the Polish equivalent of "Happy Birthday to You." ("May (s)he live a hundred years").
- And in Russian or Slovak, Sto Lat means "a hundred plate mails".
- Liber Paginarum Fulvarum, the proper name of the Necrotelicomnicon (essentially a phonebook for the dead): Latin for The Book of Yellow Pages.
- The motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is "Fabricati Diem, Pvnc" — which the narrator translates as "to protect and serve", but which would more accurately translate to "make my day, punk", with some leeway on pvnc and punk (and in the verb form).
- Interesting fact: "Fabricati Diem, Pvnc" is actually all that remains to the battered Watch sign, which at one point read in full "Fabricati Diem, Pvncti Agvnt Celeriter," which means in Latatian "Make the day, the moments pass quickly."
- There's another, more subtle, level to this one. With a somewhat nerdier level of knowledge it is also possible to read "Fabricati Diem Pvnc" as "Built in the year dot", which given the preceding description of the manky ancient building is highly appropriate.
- In Feet of Clay, several of the Golems (golems originally stemming from Hebrew stories) have Yiddish names. One golem's name was "Crazy" and one's was "Cloth used for cleaning."
- Pratchett slipped a subversion of this trope into a Monstrous Regiment footnote, involving the language of birds. It points out that the beauty of birdsong can lose its luster for ornithologists, who know for a fact that they're overhearing birds dissing and/or making passes at one another.
- In Mort at one point Albert says "Sodomy non sapiens". Mort asks what does that mean, Albert answers "Buggered if I know". While this is (effectively) the correct translation of the first phrase, many readers wrongly assumed Albert doesn't know what "Sodomy non sapiens" means.
- In Maskerade, the Pedlar's Song from the opera Lohenshaak begins "Schneide meinen eigenen Hals..." which is German for "Cut my own throat".
- In the same book, the Brindisian opera singer Enrico Basilica, who is secretly the Morporkian Henry Slugg, is singing "Show Me The Way To Go Home" in the bath, when the maid comes in and he instantly switches to Brindisian opera ... which is actually "Show Me the Way to Go Home" in Italian.
- And in the same book again, the opera Il Truccatore (the Discworld counterpart to Il Trovatore) - according to Salzella it means "the Master of Disguise" or "the Man of a Thousand Faces", but it's more literally "the make-up artist". It also doubles as a Shout-Out to Lon Chaney in a plot that riffs on his most famous role.
- The mottos on the guild coat of arms tend to be in Dog Latin, and one of them — "Art brought forth the light" — is not only a somewhat sad pun on the name of the candle-maker ("Arthur"), but also a bilingual bonus as well as an important plot point. The Latin translation would be "Ars enixa est candelam". Vimes had been shown the coat of arms and the motto right at the beginning of the story and then was busy for more than half of the book trying to figure out how the Patrician was being poisoned. You guess.
- Expect lots of this in German whenever Uberwald and/or philosophy are being mentioned. Überwald is German (the inhabitants of Discworld prefer to avoid the diacretic points because they'll just roll off and cause unnecessary punctuation) and literally translates into "over forest" or "beyond forest". Or in Latin: Transylvania.
- The Dutch translator of Equal Rites had an easy time of it with Granny Weatherwax: she became Ouma Wedersmeer. He was stumped in trying to translate her broomstick being the equivalent of an elderly Morris Minor: the reference is to a clunky ugly British car that while mechanically sound didn't want to go very fast. This concept would not directly translate into Dutch. Then he realized a kind of old, ugly, slow but reliable bike in Holland is nicknamed the "Granny Wagon". Bingo...
- Witches Abroad drops hints to all sorts of plot developments if you're paying close attention, but one in particular requires some knowledge of French: Lilith is currently using the alias "de Tempscire"; "temps cire" can be translated to "weather wax."
- A number of 19th-century Russian novels, such as Anna Karenina, include random bursts of French from certain characters. Learning French was considered part of a "respectable" education for the Russian nobility at the time, so it was a marker of status for people to be able to converse freely in French. In particular, it's used when well-off characters discuss things they don't want the servants to know.
- Just a minor one, but Darkness Visible has an exchange in French during a scene in St Petersburg which is never translated. Also a sort of Genius Bonus – Not everyone knows that the language of high society in Russia at that time was French, not Russian.
- Philip K. Dick's VALIS provides us with blatant Author Avatar Horselover Fat, which a student of languages will tell you is "Philip Dick", in that "Philip" comes from Greek Phillipos, "Lover of horses" note , and "Dick" is German for "fat", as in "thick". Subverted, in that Dick admits this in all of this in about three pages... and in relatively short order introduces Philip K. Dick as a character.
- Letters Back to Ancient China has many. One example: The German unions are mentioned, which are all named "IG ...". This abbreviation can be pronounced like Mandarin for "give once", but Kao-tai writes that they rather should be named "take ten thousand times".
- In Harry Harrison's novel Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers the phrase "Ich möchte ein Einzelzimmer mit Bad im ersten Stock!" is translated in a footnote as "I spotted a door behind the throne, so grab onto me and we can escape that way." The real meaning is "I want a single room with a bath on the first floor". Harrison is very fond of bilingual trickery.
- In Gullivers Travels, the flying city of Laputa is a harsh allegory of England and its colonial dominion over Ireland; the name means "the whore" in Spanish.
- In-universe example: In the Rivers of London series, Peter finds some writing on a magical booby-trap left behind by the Faceless Man. After it's defused, he recognizes the writing as Tolkien's Quenya, and puts a copy of it on the internet, where LotR fans quickly translate it as:
"If you can read this, you are not only a nerd but probably dead."
- In Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, Doremus asks Lorinda about translating German. She replies that the only German she knows is a phrase Buck taught her: "God bless you" (Verfluchter Schweinehund). Verfluchter Schweinehund actually means "damned pig-dog".
- In The Realm Of Albion, several characters who derive from medieval romances and originally had anachronistic non-Celtic names have been renamed... mostly with direct Welsh equivalents of the actual meaning of their original names.
- In A Wolf In The Soul, several characters' names have hidden meanings when their names are translated.
- A minor character in 1634: The Bavarian Crisis is called Michel l'Esclavon, duc d'Espehar, marquis de Choses-sans-Valeur, vicomte de Lavion, seigneur de l'Haleur, chevalier Sanscourage de Contre-Ours,which, in English, comes to Michael the Slavic, Duke of Hope, Marquis of Things-without-Value, Viscount of the Airplane, Lord of Haulers, knight Without Courage of Opposing Bears.
- One of the short stories features two Swedish nobles named Harvärja and Stolpeskott. Both are at first glance concievable as "new" nobility names. "Harvärja", a combination of the words for "hare" and "rapier", is also a part of the idiom "take to the hare's rapier", meaning to run away. "Stolpeskott" combines the words for the heraldic figure "pale", and "shot", but stolpe can also mean "post", as in "goalpost", and "stolpskott" (literally a shot that hits the goal post) has also entered the vernacular as a term for abject failure.
- In Der Stechlin educated characters occasionally use French (also Italian and English) phrases, while the members of the rural lower classes (agricultural labourers, workers at the glass factory in Neuglobsow, many of Dubslav's servants, etc.) speak in the Brandenburg dialect of Low German.
- A recurrent trope in MARZENA Transhuman Ambrosia, with everything being spelled funetikally of course, and not to mention the consistant uses of either German, Dutch or French/Russian Quotation marks. Note that whenever German quotation marks are used that every noun becomes capitalized as it is done according to proper German grammar.
- Marian and Geni (Marian's Digital Copy) will seldom utter random Russian slurs like "Pochemu ti mala sewka! Ya budu bit tebya na smyerts!" (Why you little Bitch! I will beat you to death!) or "Bllin da ladna ooja?!" (Darn back already?!).
- And there's Livia tendency to insert random Dutch words in her sentence like Tsehr Maar/Vett ü vel (Ya know).
- The zombies while Kristen and Lauren are inside Dr. Samir's head will chant seemingly random gibberish which are actually Russian, "Shtobo mola jit" (for little life), "Myorvt shtobo jit" (Dying to Live), and "Mogsgi, Mogsgi, Mogsgi" (Brains, Brains, Brains).
- While in the Saarland, Gorski and the TAR Kernel converse a bit in German. Gorski tells the Kernel that "Fer-tseihung Kernel aber man moos bay-eilen, vo shtecks Yoan?" (Forgiveness Kernel, but one must hurry, where is Yoan?" and the Kernel tells him that he's in the basement, "Bringen zie hin zu him," translates roughly to Bring her in to him.
- Also Private Thomas, "Ich bin kein Artz, Ich bin Zoldat." (I am no Doctor, I am Soldier).
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: The in-universe editor of the novel that the book is about (yeah, it's that kind of book) provides translations for most of them and complains about it, especially since most have nothing to do with what's being talked about.
- In Sandpaper Kiss, the characters of Lucy and Nurse Chǎ often speak in untranslated Mandarin Chinese.
- In episode 8 of Band of Brothers, David Webster 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".
- 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.
- Doctor Who:
- When the Dalek ships are revealed towards the end of the 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."
- 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 includes the question "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi, c'est soir?note " in the chorus. 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:
Italian:Look at my balls!Look at my balls!Look at my balls!(It's) not old macaroni!German:(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).
- 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.
- 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 plot of Front Mission 4 opens with unknown military party attacking German base, and good guys attempting to find out who it actually was. But even though status screen obscures enemy pilots' names, any Russian-speaking player will uncover the mystery long before their characters do - since hostile wanzer model types aren't obscured, and they read "Zhelanie" and "Vyzov", which are obviously transliterated from Russian "Desire" and "Challenge".
- 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.
- There's another one which can even give a bilingual player an advantage: When the Ganado sneak up behind Leon, they generally say "¡Detrás de ti, imbécil!" (Behind you, you idiot!), giving the player enough time to either get out of the way or counterattack.
- 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!
- It's also worth noting that, in order to cater to the non-Japanese, a rare interrogation spells it out clearly for those who missed the reference:
- 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.
- One level in Psychonauts has a giant neon-pink bull named El Odio. "El Odio" translates from Spanish to "The Hatred", since the bull is an embodiment of the hateful obsession of the character whose mind he manifests in.
- Battlefield4 has two for Mandarin speakers:
- When Chang-loyalist Chinese operatives come upon the incapacitated Tombstone team, Tombstone's liaison Hannahnote does what she can for the team: pretend to be another Chang-loyalist and claim that Pac is already dead, so that the Chang-loyalist operatives only carry off Recker and Irish, leaving Pac presumably uncaptured in case she, Recker, and Irish can't escape[[/spoiler.
- The opening of the China Rising DLC trailer is inaccurately subtitled "Confucius says: Never give a sword to a man who can't dance", but the narration begins with "Yuewang Goujian", as in Goujian, King of Yue, the Chinese Ur-Example for the accurately-subtitled "enduring their condescension and biding our time".
- Most of the names in Rodina originate from Slavic words. The planets and star are all named after Slavic gods, and the name of the game means "Family" in Slovak.
- The original Mercenaries offered a twist on this: Members of three of the quest-givers (the South Koreans, the Peoples' Liberation Army, and the Russian Mafia) will occasionally speak in their respective languages when you visit them. Normally it's subtitled as "[Speaks in (Korean/Chinese/Russian)]", but each of the three playable mercs is fluent in one of those languagesnote , and for them, the subtitles provide a full English translation. The dialog ranges from serious (the Chinese talking about how they plan on manipulating you) to silly (the head of the Mafia demanding that his Beleaguered Assistant get him a pet monkey).
- Hey, remember that infamously awful scene from the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot where that cultist, the one who ends up being Lara's first kill, tries to rape her? The whole scene descends into even worse levels of Squick if you happen to understand Russian:
You're pretty, aren't you? *touches her face* You remind me of my sister.
- Some items from Diablo II:
- "Bec-de-corbin", a polearm which is Old French for "raven's beak".
- "Martel-de-fer", a maul, which is "hammer of iron" in French.
- SC2VN uses Korean titles and slang in dialogue. It also has Korean characters in a couple of the backgrounds.
- 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.
- The planet Dërt in Wizard and Giant is a play on how "Earth" can mean this planet, but it can also mean, well, dirt. The Bilingual Bonus comes in because Earth is "here" while dert is German for "there" or "that place" and dërt is Turkish for "pain," or "sorrow," and it certainly is a place of hardship.
- 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 Tricks Of The Trade issue of Spying With Lana, the man on Lana's escape yacht was singing parts of La donna è mobile (The woman is fickle in Italian), the Duke of Mantua's canzone from the beginning of act 3 of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto. Interestingly, while the song was an ironic one in the original play (the duke being the "fickle" one), it is appropriate here as Lana is indeed the "fickle woman".
- 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.
- Welcome to Night Vale: After returning from his mysterious disappearance, the Apache Tracker is only able to speak Russian. Translating his lines provides some plot foreshadowing.
- 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.
- For instance, in the '"20 Blaze It" video, the other sign which doesn't say "420 Blaze It" says "Niggas in Paris".
- 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 KRANKENSCHWESTER BRAUCHEN!" note , which translates to "You will need a nurse."
- During a trip through Germany, Brian annoys a German tourist guide and he belts out "SIE WERDEN NICHT BELEIDIGUNG DEUTSCHLAND!" note , meaning that "You will not insult Germany!".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 am going 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?!"
- The first phrase actually is a "Blind Idiot" Translation : it literaly means "Damn, more mark of cutie!"
- 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."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra:
- Both series 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.
- 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.
- In Korra, one of the new Airbenders is named "Otaku". This is Japanese for "geek" or "nerd" (though more extreme and derogatory in meaning than those words). Fittingly, he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Air Nomad culture.
- The Other Wiki has this.
- Francis E. Dec often added short phrases of broken Polish to his rants, usually expressing his love for the place he has been to only once in his life. He would also, despite being a staunch anti-Semite, curse in Yiddish.
- 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.