"El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño"
A comedy trope where characters trying to understand or explain what a foreign word means ultimately conclude that the foreign word means... the foreign word. Related to Shaped Like Itself
Contrast Translate the Loanwords Too
Please note that as far as translation theory goes, this is entirely correct. While many words do often have one-for-one equivalents, words in general have so much linguistic and cultural baggage that no translation, no matter how equivalent in meaning, means exactly the same thing.
Contrast You Are the Translated Foreign Word
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- Inverted in a Simpsons Comics story in which Ned Flanders invited the Simpson family to a Mexican fiesta complete with tacos, burritos, sombreros, and a pinata. Homer angrily shot back with "No - and that's Mexican for 'No!' "
Live Action TV
- Trope Namer is Saturday Night Live, as Chris Farley, playing El Niño (the climate pattern) as a Mexican lucha wrestler, introduces himself with the page quote.
- A Kids in the Hall sketch had Dave Foley as a stereotypical Frenchman talking about how beloved Kevin MacDonald is in France, where it is known as "Le Poopie," which is French for "The Poopie."
- In an episode of Barney Miller, a recurring Latina character calls Officer Leavitt (who is quite short) "poquito". He finally asks her what it means and she says, "It means macho," and leaves.
- From That '70s Show:
Kelso: It's an El Camino. It's Spanish for "The Camino"! *
- This is a bit of a Running Gag in The Daily Show regarding Arabic phrases with the article "Al". For example, in one episode featuring an interview with an Al Jazeera reporter, Jon helpfully informs us that "Al Jazeera" means "The Jazeera" and that hopefully their guest will explain what a "Jazeera" is (he doesn't).*
- Jon Stewart: "My guest tonight is author Robert Caro, who's written a biography of LBJ. Which, of course, is Spanish for 'The BJ'".
- Often used as a gag by Pat Sajak on Wheel of Fortune. For instance, if a contestant is from Los Alamos, he'll say it's Spanish for "the Alamos".
- On Hamish And Andy's Gap Year, before making a trip to El Paso, Hamish helpfully tells us that "El Paso is Spanish for the Paso".
- On The Golden Girls, Blanche one time introduced herself to a gentleman as, "I'm Blanche Devereaux. That's French for... Blanche Devereaux." Funnily enough, that's a mild real life example, too. "Blanche" means white, but Devereaux could really only be translated as "from Évreux," a town in France*.
- On Boys Will Be Boys, which was an early Fox vehicle for Matthew Perry, the three main characters plan a road trip to Las Vegas. Perry's character, Chazz, is dubious when his best friend Eugene says that Las Vegas is Spanish for 'The Vegas'. Hilarity ensues for the remainder of the short-lived series.
- Played deliberately before being corrected on The West Wing
President Josiah Bartlet: 27 lawyers in the room. Anybody know "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc*"? Josh?
Josh Lyman: Uh, uh, "post" - after, after hoc, "ergo" - therefore, "After hoc, therefore" something else hoc.
Pres. Bartlet: Thank you. Next?
- Inversion: According to their hit song "Me, Myself and I", "De La Soul is from the soul".
- The social networking website Foursquare has a badge called "French for 'The Moines'", given for exploring different places in Des Moines, Idaho. *
- In the episode "Mom and Pop Art" from The Simpsons, Homer attempts to start assembling a barbecue pit in his backyard but accidentally drops all the pieces into the cement.
Homer: (tries to read the cement-soiled instruction sheet) English side ruined! Must use French instructions... "Le grill"? What the hell is that?
- The episode "The Italian Bob" also has this take place:
Sideshow Bob: I hereby swear... a... VENDETTA!
Marge: (searching through an Italian-English dictionary) "Vendetta" means... "Vendetta"!
(all Simpson family members scream)
- Phineas and Ferb: "As they say in Mexico, 'Dasvidaniya!' Down there, that's two vidaniyas!"-Dr. Doofenschmirtz gets Russian for goodbye (actually "do svidaniya", but the stressless o is pronounced more like a) mixed with Spanish ("Das" resembles "Dos," the Spanish word for the number two)
- Most English-speakers in Southern California refer to the famous road El Camino Real* as "El Camino"*, leaving off the important part.
- In Kansas City Missouri, where they have a bit more of an excuse, there's a fairly large and important street which is actually named "The Paseo", which is what you get if you pull the Trope Namer on El Paseo*.
By the way
, "El Niño" is Spanish for "The boy".