"It vas inwented in Russia."
This is the ethnic character who will, contrary to the wisdom or knowledge of all present, insist that some cultural icon, item, form of art, technology, stock quote
, etc. is native to their country.
If the character is an alien, this can cross over into Beethoven Was an Alien Spy
; or at least the alien will insist that they were.
This can be a subset of Cultural Posturing
, but only when the character insists on this because it makes their country sound more awesome. It is always possible that they only use this trope because they believe it to be fact.
An example of Older Than They Think
would not be this. This is where the character didn't do the research (if not done intentionally).
Or perhaps the story is so far removed
from the present day that what's Common Knowledge
to the audience is Shrouded in Myth
, and everyone in-story assumes the Klingons Did It First
. It's also possible that the Rubber Forehead Alien
or Human Alien
culture does really have very human-like thoughts, and could independently have a proverb that coincidentally matches an old earth proverb. Related to Future Imperfect
Compare Pop-Cultural Osmosis
, Race Lift
, We All Live in America
. Often implies that Klingons Love Shakespeare
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Anime & Manga
- According to the Green Lantern storyline, languages like German and Egyptian originated outside of Earth, we in fact ripped the languages from the E.T.s and whatnot. No doubt explains why the aliens speak English in the DCU. It's fortunate for us that linguistic drift of both America and the galaxy headed in the same direction.
- In Les Innommables, one Chinese character says Marco Polo stole the concept of pasta on his journey through China; in fact they were thought up separately.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:
- Chancellor Gorkon states that Shakespeare is best appreciated in the original Klingon. Of course, thanks to the fan group The Klingon Language Institute, there now is a book of Hamlet in Klingon, as seen in the trope image. Ironically, the inflection and circumstances in the scene make it clear that Gorkon was largely making a joke.
- Spock claims that "Only Nixon could go to China" is an "old Vulcan proverb." He also attributes a quote from Sherlock Holmes to one of his ancestors, (it is canon, in an All There in the Manual way, that Arthur Conan Doyle is one of Spock's ancestors, on his human side).
- Chekov claims that "If the shoe fits, wear it." is a Russian proverb in the same movie. Though the current version of the saying has a complicated origin note none of it involves Russia.
- A notable one in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
Ah, Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the old Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space
- Mr. Portokalos (Toula's father) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding insisted Greece created everything, even naming the kimono. Like every other stereotype and character quirk in that movie, that is actually Truth in Television exaggerated for comedic effect.
- "Shakespeare in the original German" goes back at least to 1941, when it was used in Leslie Howard's Pimpernel Smith ("But you must at least admit that the English translation is marvellous!") It was, of course, a parody of the idea, dating back at least to WWI, that Shakespeare was racially "Aryan," even if not an actual German himself. Similar claims were made for Michelangelo and Leonardo. (No, not the turtles.note ) note
- In Goodbye Lenin, when his mother (who doesn't realize that the Berlin Wall has come down) sees a Coca-Cola banner on the building across the street from her apartment in East Berlin, the protagonist explains it by showing her a fake newscast claiming that, after it was proven that Coca-Cola had actually been invented in East Germany, the company agreed to build a factory there as part of an out-of-court settlement.
- Happens a bit in the Vorkosigan Saga, resulting from Barrayar being a lost colony for an extended period of time. Lots of Earth stories, jokes, proverbs, etc. are referred to as being traditionally Barrayaran, and this for a while applied to Shakespeare himself. They didn't actually ever think he was Barrayaran, but their efforts to keep his plays alive through oral tradition were so successful that Barrayar somehow "preserved" three plays unknown to the rest of the galaxy. There's a fan version of one of them.
- In Pale Fire, Kinbote's commentary strongly suggests that he believes Shakespeare to be of Zemblan ancestry.
- In Robert Zubrin's The Holy Land the Minervan (yes, alien) priestess Aurora insists throughout the entire book that Shakespeare, the writer of "Rule Britannia", and Jesus were all Minervans simply on grounds that no Earthling could have been that brilliant. Admittedly, Earth is actually the home planet of the Minervans (who evolved 20,000 years before modern man, who the Minervans call "proto-human savages"), but Minerva never gives any evidence for her claims that's better than her own racism.
- Invoked in Starship Troopers, when a South American soldier jokes that Simon Bolivar built the pyramids, licked the armada, and made the first trip to the moon." He and the main character, a Filipino, discuss that every country has its own version of history.
- In one of the Lord Darcy tales, Lord John Quetzal mentions how Master Sean O Lochlainn attributes everything the Anglo-French have achieved to them copying ideas from the Irish. Lord John himself, an ethnic Aztec, inverts this trope by claiming that everything his own ancestors ever accomplished was copied from the Olmecs.
- In 1984, The Party would have the public believe that Big Brother is personally responsible for every major technological development of the past century. As time goes on, they have him take credit for more and more of the past. (The protagonist learned in school that Big Brother invented the helicopter. His considerably younger girlfriend learned that he also invented the airplane. The protagonist suspects that in ten to twenty years children will learn that he also invented the steam locomotive.)
- There are a number of examples from Star Trek:
- Chekov, who insists variously that Scotch whisky, the Cheshire Cat, Cinderella, and the Garden of Eden are all Russian. According to Diane Duane's novels, he's joking, as when people don't believe his claim that the roller coaster was invented in Russia (true, for a change) he pleads that "this time" it's the truth.
- Similarly, in the Deep Space Nine episode "The House of Quark", Quark claims that "Discretion is the better part of valor" is an old Ferengi saying.
- In the Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers", O'Brien claims that Romulans are particularly prone to doing this, though he doesn't give any specific examples. Considering the fact that they call themselves Romulans, and their core planets are called Romulus and Remus, not to mention the whole Romulan Senate being styled after a certain earth based senate from the past... Well, O'Brien was stating the obvious.
- An aversion of a literal example. In the Frasier episode "Star Mitzvah", when Frasier is tricked into thinking his blessing to his son Freddy at his bar mitzvah is Hebrew, when it's actually Klingon. A boy at the wedding translates it to Freddy, and adds, "It's much more beautiful in the original Klingon."
- One of the running gags in Sketch Show Goodness Gracious Me was a character called "Mr Everything Comes from India". Some of the things he attributed to India were...
- The British Royal Family
"They all live in the same family house together... Indian. All work in the family business... Indian. All have arranged marriages... Indian. They all have sons; daughters no good... Indian. Children live with their parents until they are married... Indian! Except Prince Charles. He's African... If he was Indian he'd have ''smaller ears!''
"Come on, you've seen the film. He runs faster than a speeding train. There's only one country where you can run faster than the trains!"
- Santa Claus
"Think about it, yar! Big beard, huge belly, terrible suit... Indian!"
"You've seen his portraits: a nose here, an ear there. Go to Delhi and look at the beggars; they look exactly the same!"
"He is as Indian as they come. He works for His Father... Indian. Parents have children without having sex... Indian. Fed five thousand people with two loaves and five fishes... Indian picnic!"
- In The Big Bang Theory, Raj Koothrapali echoes this character when he maintains Sherlock Holmes is really Indian and Arthur Conan-Doyle merely copied an Indian literary character, a polymath intellectual who solved crimes for a hobby.
- Babylon 5:
- G'Kar mentions that the humans have a saying, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." He then plays the trope straight by saying that they probably stole it from the Narn. Justified: it's heavily implied (and in one case, outright stated) that other alien races had been altering aspects of Narn culture to suit their plans, G'Kar has no hard evidence that it didn't originate with his people. The few humans he knows, however, do not seem to fit this philosophy, but it fits his own remarkably well.
- A major aversion, in the form of "Swedish meatballs". When an old friend arrives on the station, G'Kar prepares Swedish meatballs. His friend asks, in wonder, how he got this Narn delicacy all the way out here. G'Kar admits that these are a Human dish called Swedish meatballs, and not the extremely similar Narn equivalent. It appears that almost every humanoid species eventually created something similar to this dish. Apparently, the Vorlons really, really like Swedish meatballs.
- In Hogan's Heroes, the group tries to help a downed Russian pilot. The pilot keeps insisting that Russia is superior (a Russian invented the telephone, the Volga is the longest river in the world, etc.). This is justified because he had been fed this sort of propaganda all his life.
- Red Dwarf:
- The Cat insists that his race invented those little drawings that are sometimes found accompanying the text in a book. They call them pictures.
- Red Dwarf A to Z includes a segment with two Daleks who claim that the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven's symphonies were written by Daleks.
- The President attempts to invoke this in an episode of The West Wing in regards to a drink he's just discovered.
Toby: It's called an egg cream, Mr. President. We invented it in Brooklyn.
Bartlet: Not New England?
Toby: There are some good things in this world not from New England, sir.
Bartlet: Toby, don't ever let me hear you say that again.
- In "Inferno", the fourth episode of the first season of Coupling, Steve launches into a famous rant about, well, naked bottoms, in the course of which he ascribes the invention of the printing press to William Caxton. Caxton was the first Englishman to use a printing press, and did introduce the press to England, but the printing press itself was invented by a German (Mainzer, specifically), Johannes Gutenberg. Steve, like the entire cast, is, of course, English, so it is an example of this trope. Possibly justified in this case, however, as Steve is not exactly a professional historian, and might just be misremembering something he learned years previously.
- On Gilligan's Island, a Japanese submariner who doesn't know World War II is over subjects Gilligan to "Japanese water torture." When Gilligan points out it's actually called Chinese water torture, the sailor snaps "They copied it from Japan!"
- In an episode of Sliders, Rembrandt asks Professor Maximillian Arturo if he can fish. Arturo indignantly replies "I'm English. We invented fishing." The scene where they fish shows how horrible he is at it. He ends up catching the smallest fish of the day.
- In the BattleTech universe, members of the quasi-mystical cult/organization known as ComStar are traditionally rather prone to claiming historical quotes and bits of wisdom from other sources as statements of their by now legendary founder Jerome Blake.
- In Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, Higgins claims that English is "the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible." While it's obviously done as a joke in the context, the King James translation was indeed written in a poetic manner that was often not present in the original source text.
- The old edutainment game Reading Galaxy had this as its premise. The in-universe game show that the player participates in features a panel of several aliens all claiming to have been the original author of some piece of Earth literature. It's the player's job to prove that the books were written by their human authors by stumping the phony in trivia about the book.
- The inspiration of this page is from a strip of Irregular Webcomic! where the young Nazi, Erwin, remarks about seeing some William Shakespeare in the "original German". Ginny immediately says that Shakespeare is best in the original Russian. This is a parody of a real-life sentiment among the Nazi Party (see below).
- One episode of The Garfield Show involves Garfield showing a film depicting cats being responsible for the creation of, among other things, cheese, lasagna, and the Mona Lisa. Then, it's revealed that mice created all those...
- Similarly, in a few episodes of Garfieldand Friends Garfield reveals that a cat was responsible for the world's greatest discoveries like the movie camera, the airplane, and of course lasagna.
- Truth in Television: The Soviet Union claimed that many famous inventions were really made by Russians. They went so far that some comedians started parodying this claim with their joke about the greatest inventor ever, "Lenard Vishinsky". Chekov's "made in Russia" bit in Star Trek is a direct reference to this, making it amusingly dated now.
- More Truth in Television: There are people, mostly (especially) in the United States, who claim that God wrote the Bible in English, and that the "original" Greek and Hebrew texts were corruptions — only the King James Version is the 100% accurate, divinely-inspired Word of God (despite it actually containing a number of glaring mistranslations, which presumably were really mistranslated the other way). This one is very Serious Business in certain parts of the U.S. To a large chunk of Americans, using or suggesting a biblical translation other than the KJV is tantamount to treason and can lead to very unpleasant consequences.
- Fun fact: Back in the early 20th century, a Texas governor was once said to remark, upon a suggestion that the state start also publishing things in Spanish, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for Texas." (Considering the state's titanic demographic shift since then, this statement is incredibly ironic.)
- Jack Chick is a big believer in this. He doesn't really think the Bible was written in English, but he insists on no translation but the KJV anyway. See here.
- In October of 2009, a small organization held a Halloween book burning in North Carolina, which included several translations of the Bible. The kicker? It was held by a baptist church, who's pastor commented that the KJV was the inerrant word of God, and all other translations to be "heretical." It can be assumed that the irony of the situation was completely lost on them.
- The phenomenon goes beyond KJV and the US Protestants. There is at least one American Catholic priest who said, "As Jesus originally said in Latin."
- Not that America has always had a monopoly on this. A bit before World War I, a Hungarian in Austria-Hungary woman was on trial for teaching her kids Hungarian (German was the official language, and other languages were rather frowned upon). The German judges at one point asked her what language she thought Jesus spoke in, clearly expecting 'German' as the answer. The woman naturally said Hungarian.
- Thanks to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, fans have actually put on a theatrical production of Hamlet in Klingon has been put on in Washington, D.C. In The Original Klingon.
- Apparently, Shakespeare wasn't the only Klingon on ancient Earth, for there has been The Klingon Christmas Carol.
- In The Real Frank Zappa Book, Frank Zappa relates his Sicilian father's theory that everything was invented by Sicilians, up to and including The Roman Empire.
- A "You know Jesus was _____ because..." joke has been made for pretty much any race or nationality, such as the Indian one listed above under Goodness Gracious Me. Others include black (because he liked gospel, called everyone "brother" and couldn't get a fair trial) and Puerto Rican (because his name was Jesus, his mother's name was Maria and he was utterly sure she was a virgin).
- Muammar Ghaddafi once pronounced that Shakespeare was an Arab.
- North Korean propaganda claims the hamburger was invented by Kim Jong-il.
- Any country in the world has overly patriotic individuals that state with pride that everything came from their country. The amount that believes so corresponds inversely to the amount of people that are educated.
- Pat Buchanan's isolationist 1992 speech at the Republican convention "probably sounded better in the original German," according to Molly Ivins.