"You must understand, Mr Lucas, that this man is Japanese and he has difficulty getting his tongue round his r's."Serf-demonstlating velsion hele. Where a joke is made about pronouncing "R's" and "L's" incorrectly in Japanese, or other pronunciations. While it is true that the Japanese Language cannot easily distinguish 'l' from 'r' (in fact, most Japanese just turn all l's into r's), other effects of their speech are more distinctive than the l/r issue. When this trope is used, the letters are often reversed where the sounds they are making are not ones that would cause that problem—e.g. "R" (when pronounced "are") being replaced with "L", when a long "ah" sound would be more likely. There is some truth to this: Japanese has neither English R nor English L - it has a sound that might be best described as a combination between an R and Lnote , if not for the incredible variation it sees in various dialects of Japanese. So, a native Japanese speaker who's not fluent in English can have difficulty telling when to use an R or an L, or will simply use their native R/L sound (which quite often sounds like the wrong letter to an English native). If you want to know what this is like, try pronouncing some Welsh or Gaelic words. The same is true of Korean - it has R's and L's, but these are different allophones of the same phoneme, which is pronounced as an L when it's at the end of a syllable (which doesn't happen in Japanese). Sometimes it's an honest mistake, rather than humor. Also applied to other Asians - even if the accent doesn't fit (though Chinese are prone to r/l mistakes as well), or with exaggerated accents of their own. The Japanese R can also occasionally sound to English-speakers like a D (specifically, the "tap" that replaces unstressed /t/ and /d/ in North American and Australian English), but not much seems to be made of this in media. Involved in some cases of Spell My Name with an "S". Often used as part of Asian Speekee Engrish or Intentional Engrish for Funny. And, of course, one must be careful talking about this or invoking it deliberately, as doing so can come across as intensely racist. There is one more problem like this - in Spanish, both "V" and "B" are pronounced like the English "B" (except between vowels, in which case it's a sort of cross between the two that doesn't exist in English). Some native Spanish speakers have a hard time differentiating between the two when speaking English. Curiously, Japanese also has this exact issue in addition to the L/R thing. Also, Arabs struggle to pronounce ‘P’ and ‘V’, replacing them with ‘B’ and ‘F’ respectively—see more on Arab Beoble Talk. Ret's keep the obvious and numelous erectolar jokes to a minimum, sharr we?
— Captain Peacock, Are You Being Served?
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- An old Jell-O commercial from the 50's shows a Chinese baby trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks while the narrator speaks Japanese Ranguage. This is a good demonstration of the trope applied to Chinese accents: all the R's become L's, but the L's are untouched (it's not Jerr-O).
- A Japanese commercial for Jelly Beans (cell phones, not the candy) was accompanied by a song about... Jerry Beans.
- When the Isuzu automobile first came on the market, a commercial had a customer frustrating a Japanese Isuzu dealer with his failure to be able to pronounce the name of the car right. The dealer, resignedly says to the customer, "That's okay, kid. I can't pronounce "Chevroret."
Anime and Manga
- Usually, whenever the opening or ending theme of an anime has a moment where the singer sings English, you'll tend to find an example of this, due to the abundance of common English words with either "R" or "L."
- A good example here could be Beck, where the interplay of plot and music is very frequent (since the protagonists are a rock band). Very notable when it's Koyuki's turn to sing; all of his songs are in English... A language he, let's just say, doesn't master very well.
- In the Mazinger series:
- Mazinger Z: Due to this, Baron Ashura was called Baron Ashler in the Spanish dub. And sometimes Count Brocken's name is mispronounced like Blocken. Oh, and Dr. Hell's name is written "Heru".
- UFO Robo Grendizer: This trope affected the main character, Duke Fleed, whose name was written like "Dyūku Furīdo". Several of his enemies also suffered from it: "Blackie" was written "Burakki", and Gandal was turned into Gandar.
- Lucia and Rina from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch are sometimes called Ruchia and Lina.
- Madame Butterfly has had her real name transliterated as "Lanuha," "Ranfa," and others.
- In the Samurai Champloo episode "Baseball Blues", the interpreter Doubleday talks like this. Like everything else in the episode, it's played for comedy.
- The opening credits of Slayers NEXT feature a map where the city of Seyruun is spelled "Sailoon".
- Given that no two people can seem to agree on the proper spelling of names in Slayers, this hardly comes as a surprise, and this is far from the only place where this crops up.
- This is actually the proper spelling, as the name of the nation is meant to reference the similarities between Amelia and Sailor Moon.
- Then, of course, in the second episode of Try, Amelia's fist reads "HUNGLY" in one frame.
- Durarara!! subbers often accidentally put "Dulalala" on the title in the opening sequence.
- That's actually sort of correct. The title refers to Celty, a Dullahan, so spelling it Durarara is itself an example of this.
- It's also supposed to be the onomatopoeia for the sound of a motorcycle ("Drrrr"), so it's basically an untranslatable pun that would be "incorrect" either way.
- There's a fair chance that Japanese Ranguage may have been involved in the naming of "Kallen" from Code Geass. When pronounced it sounds more like "Karen" and was in fact used by some fansubbers. However, the official transliteration is Kallen, which could possibly be due to someone aware of the problems with Japanese Ranguage and overcompensating. Granted there's no actual evidence for this, but it is at any rate a theory held by a decent enough portion of the fanbase, and there are fans that reject the "Kallen" transliteration outright.
- At least one fansub of One Piece pronounces the town of Alabasta as Arabasta.
- It was explicitly used in some fansubs, where she called herself Kallen when referring to her English bloodline, and Karen to Japanese.
- It should be noted however, that Karen is a common name in both the English and Japanese languages, in English it was derived from Kathrine and its Kanji [ 可憐 ] means lovely, when referring to a girl or flower.
- In one episode of Love Hina, Keitaro and Naru are studying English, and trying to figure out if a particular word is pronounced "correct" or "collect".
- Done in the Axis Powers Hetalia dub for the voice of Japan as part of the dub taking the National Stereotypes comedic basis of the series Up to Eleven.
- In Hellsing, the main character is "Arucard", which is "Dracura" spelled backwards. The translators wanted to spell it "Alucard" but were told it was spelled incorrectly.
- According to Crispin Freeman, Hirano himself confirmed (after the series had concluded) that "Alucard" is the correct spelling.
- "Alucard" from Castlevania fame predates Hellsing and the author wanted to avoid any legal issues, so in his characteristic Obfuscating Stupidity he let the name spelling be wrong and the fans to figure it out. It is even lampshaded by some antagonist (something about the lines of "I don't care if your name is Alucard or Arucardo")
- This trope, combined with the Japanese confusion between 'B' and 'V', led to Verthandi becoming Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess from the original Japanese to English. Belldandy, or more appropriately, Berudandi, is the closest Japanese can get in regards to a phonetic spelling of Verthandi in Japanese kana. Considering when the series first started, both Fujishima and various translators let the error stand, since that's how fans knew the name. The Scandinavian translations get the various names of the deities correct. It should also be noted that the translators started getting the names correct for new deities and such over the course of the series.
- A recurring instance of this comes in many Mecha series, where the giant robots' heads-up displays will read "ROCK ON" instead of "LOCK ON". Banpresto included a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of this in the Gameboy Advance Super Robot Wars games, where Wing Gundam Zero's targeting display says "ROCK" on the left side...and "N ROLL" on the right.
- The anime series for the second Super Robot Wars Original Generation game seems to be turning this into a running gag, as the term "ROCK ON" appears twice within the first four episodes. Then again, if "AN ERROR" is any indication, it may be a legitimate mistake.
- Speaking of mecha, an infamous Japanese scan claimed the L-Gaim Mk. II featured a Morvabul Flame, which is a seriously impressive example (for the record, it's supposed to be the much less epic-sounding "movable frame").
- The late 70s anime Captain Future was adapted from an American pulp science-fiction series. Unfortunately, these American roots were unknown to or ignored by the makers of the German dub, resulting in pseudo-English character names re-translated from Japanese: female sidekick John Randall turns into Joan Landor, Marshall Ezra Gurney becomes Ezella Garnie, and Arch-Enemy Ul Quorn goes by the name of Vul Kuolun.
- No one is quite sure if Ling Yao's bodyguard is Lan Fan or Ran Fan in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there is a monster called Jerry Beans Man. Because he is a green jeLLy bean, one can only wonder......
- Vampire Hunter D gives us the term "dunpeal", which is what happens when the word "dhampyr" is subjected to this trope.
- The heroine of Gunsmith Cats is named Rally / Larry Vincent.
- Rebuild of Evangelion: Kaji's attempts to speak to Americans in Rebuild 2.0. Everyone else who speaks English in the film is really quite good, but Kaji is ear-crunchingly awful. If it weren't for the subtitles he'd almost be unintelligible.
- Subbers of InuYasha can't seem to decide between "Kilala" and "Kirara". Actors in the dub say "Kilala".
- Though "Kirara" makes more sense (this is Feudal Japan we're talking about).
- Ravi/Labi/Rabi/Lavi from D.Gray-Man. Even the official publishers don't know how to translate this guy's name!
- On the same note, Maito Guy/Might Guy/Mighty Guy/Maito Gai/Mighty Gay from Naruto.
- In Azumanga Daioh, Tomo and Osaka comment that Bruce Lee's name sounds like "Blue Three," causing them to imagine him beating up Blue One and Blue Two.
- The B-V version of this trope is probably the reason Black Lagoon's female lead is nicknamed "Revy." "Reby" would be a more natural shortening of "Rebecca," but "Revy" is the official translation for some reason. Possibly because it looks and sounds cooler. "Levy" also crops up in some translations.
- In the trailer for K-On! the movie, Ritsu shouts "Lock 'n' LOLL!!"
- K-On! creator Kakifly took his pen name from the name of fried oysters, "kaki fry", yet spells it with an L when using Roman letters. He has also written out Ritsu's name as "Ritu" on at least one drawing, even though the official romanization is "Ritsu".
- Some Japanese writers are aware of this and intentionally use it for comedic effect. In a Detective Conan episode, Kogoro Mouri thinks his daughter Ran Mouri is referring to herself when she tells him that she set up a wireless LAN (local area network) in his detective office.
- In Dragon Ball the character Krillin is named Kuririn in the original Japanese version and even the official English manga.
- Similarly, ブルマ ("Bloomer", to go with the underwear Theme Naming present in the Briefs family) is romanized as "Bulma".
- Also, Vegeta's Garlic Gun became "Gallick Gun" in the English dub. And Vegeta's daughter Bura (Bra) became Bulla.
- In Kaze to Ki no Uta, Serge is knocked out with a liquid from a bottle labelled ‘ETHEL’.
- This is actually a minor plot point in Death Note. The unknown person killing criminals throughout Japan is called "Kira" by the media, but Light notes that it's supposed to be "Killer". In the live-action movie, Lind L. Taylor is an American, and actually pronounces it "Killer" as he gives his speech challenging Kira.
- In one episode of Dog & Scissors, an extended scene featuring Maxi has a US Liberty coin behind her. Unfortunately, it's misspelled as "Riberty".
- The Trope Namer is a Silver Age-era The Flash comic (seen above) where Barry Allen goes to Japan and is greeted as "Barry Arren-san." The Clue from Ed. said that the it came from "Difficurty of pronouncing "L's" in Japanese Ranguage"
- Used in an even more insane and racist and insanely racist way with Egg Fu and Dr Yes, the Oriental Eggheads who frequently try to capture Wonder Woman in their Diabolical Moustahce Trap.
- The Donald Duck cartoon "Donald Applecore", after Donald winds up accidentally Digging to China.
- Voltaire's (not that Voltaire) comic Deady Big in Japan features this, for the most part in lieu of actually speaking Japanese. It even lampshades it, when they refer to a "Escuratuh Attendent" and the bottom says "Escalator Attendant, for those who don't speak Japanese". Of course, he's pretty good about getting the accent right, instead of just replacing Ls and Rs, still.
- American Born Chinese is a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang that features Chin-Kee, a hollibel Chinese steleotype who tarks rike this. This trope is actually being deliberately invoked in-universe, as Chin-Kee, who is in reality the legendary Monkey King (It Makes Sense in Context), actually speaks perfect English, and is speaking in this manner for reasons that are never adequately explained.
- Every Asian in Mortadelo y Filemón (And most stuff from Spain for that matter) speaks with the "L in place of R" variety, regardless of their country of origin. Then again, they look so racistically caricaturesque it's almost fitting.
- A oriental Martial Arts expert in a Spirou and Fantasio comic used "L"s instead of "R"s (in the original French version anyway).
- Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. A Yellow Peril supervillain delivers his New Era Speech about what's going to happen to the United States once he's conquered it, culminating in "Your children will get the three R's confused with the letter L."
- Kim Jong-Il in Team America: World Police talks like this, as emphasized in his song "I'm so ronery".
- A Christmas Story: "Tis the season to be jorry. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra, ra, ra"
- May be a lampshading, since the old Asian man immediately yells at them, "Not 'ra-ra-ra-ra' — falalalala!", and gives up when they fail to get it right.
- They may have been simply jerking their boss's chain for the Parker family's amusement. They do immediately switch to another L-heavy carol, rather than something else.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's movie UHF does the supply-closet gag with an entire karate team leaping out and screaming "SUPPLIES!".
- Referenced in Lost in Translation (Charlotte asks, "Why do they switch the R's and the L's?"), and briefly used ("Lip my stockings!").
- Back to the Future Part II: In 2015, Marty McFly is shown to be working for a Mr. Fujitsu, who pronounces his name as "Mock-Fry".
- Invoked intentionally by the Chinese Uncle Benny in Lethal Weapon 4: "That's fried rice, you plick!"
- A plot point in Chinatown. "Bad for glass".
- The Last Samurai has Algren's new hosts struggling to pronounce his surname.
- Two-part joke:
Q: What do you call a woman with one leg shorter than the other?A: Eileen.Q: What do you call a Japanese woman with one leg shorter than the other?A: Irene.
- What do you call Lady Gaga's Irish-Japanese stepsister? - Rady O'Gaga.
- A Greek man loves going to a certain Chinese restaurant and asking what the special is. The special is always fried rice, and he loves hearing the waiter say "flied lice" - it makes the Greek laugh and laugh. The waiter HATES this, and is horribly embarrassed by it. When the Greek has to leave town for a month on business the waiter works with a speech therapist and tries hard. When the Greek came back and asked what the special was, the waiter said "The special today is fried rice. How's THAT, you clazy Gleek??"
- A common and slighty more off-color variant is omit the man's Greek ethnicity and replace "Gleek" with "plick."
- There were three men working for a construction contractor, two Americans and a Japanese man, and the contractor told the first American to dig out a hole to lay a concrete foundation, and the second American to mix the concrete, and the Japanese man to go out and get the necessary supplies to dig the hole. He comes back the next day, and sees that no progress has been made, so he goes to the man who was supposed to lay the concrete and starts yelling at him, but he says "It's not my fault, the other guy never dug the hole, so I couldn't lay the concrete." The contractor goes to the other man and yells at him, but he says "It's not my fault, the Japanese guy never got me the digging equipment." Annoyed, the contractor looks for the Japanese man, but he is nowhere to be found. Frustrated, he sits down, and suddenly the Japanese man pops out and yells "SUPPRISE!"
- A Japanese woman goes to an eye doctor. The doctor tells her, "I'm sorry, but you have a bad cataract." The woman says, "No, not cataract. Is Rincoln Continental!"
- A Japanese chemist in Cold War-era New Mexico was heard to remark, tongue firmly in cheek, that translating English to Japanese was difficult.
"R or L? R or L? Hard to tell. Sometimes seem compretry landom."
- John Pinette, after getting kicked out of a Japanese restaurant due to his Big Eater tendencies, was told "You eat like fee wirry!".
- From Tumblr:
- Two women are talking at the office. "I just don't understand it," says the first woman. "No matter what I do or what I wear, I just can't get a date!" "You should see my doctor," said the other woman. "I had the same problem in the past, and he really helped me out." So the first woman makes an appointment, and goes to see the doctor, who is Japanese. In his office, he tells her to take off her clothes, turn around, and bend over. Finally, he says, "I am sorry. There is nothing I can do for you." The woman is upset and asks, "Doctor, what's wrong with me?!" He responds, "You have Zachary." "What's Zachary," the woman wants to know. The doctor replies, "Face rook Zachary rike ass."
- In Good Omens, Newt Pulsifer has a car called a Wasabi, an early example of Japanese car manufacturing. And it talks, voiced by someone who, according to the book, was clearly not a fluent speaker in Japanese or English.
"Prease to frasten sleat-bert."
- Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy has a character who gives an impassioned pre-hanging speech with all the Ls and Rs swapped.
- The Destroyer: Remo Williams did this to intentionally anger his master Chiun, even though there's no indication Sinanju shares Japanese linguistic patterns.
- In the Beverly Cleary book Emily's Runaway Imagination, set in the '20s, a classic episode of Age-Appropriate Angst results when Emily runs into the one Chinese man in town while walking her dog, whom he greets as Plince. She unthinkingly corrects him that it's Prince, and although he's nice about it, all the other adults start asking her how Plince is every time they see her.
- In one of the Jennings books, Pettigrew makes an Incredibly Lame Joke about a Chinese stamp-collector. The punchline is "Philately will get you nowhere".
- Henry Beard's Latin for All Occasions is basically a phrasebook for those times when you need to speak classical Latin. For times when you're in a Chinese restaurant, he helpfully translates "Do you have 'flied lice'? Ha ha ha!" as "Habesne olyziam flictam? Hae hae hae!"
- The President of the United States in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator calls a wrong number twice, and both times ends up speaking with East Asian men who talk like this.
- In James Clavell's Shogun, the stranded English sailor, James Blackthorne, becomes "Anjin-san" precisely because of this; his name is impossible for Japanese to pronounce correctly.
- In the novel Voyage of the Javelin, about a young man from late 19th-century New England who joins a merchant sailing crew on a round the world voyage, this becomes a plot point as one Chinese-born crewman tries to warn everybody about pirates as they pull into an Asian port, but everyone ignores him thinking he's telling them about the harbor pilots. The ship gets attacked and suffers casualties.
Rive Action TV
- Similar to Anime, if a Japanese Live Action Show theme uses English (Mostly seen in Toku), than there tends to be some of this. For example, in the main theme of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, there's a moment where the singer is suppose to say "Let's go! Let's go!", but instead says "Ret's go! Ret's go!" (Even the subtitles say "Ret's").
- Similarly, Tokumei Sentai Go Busters has the Monster of the Week called "Metaloids" and the heroes' partner robots as "Buddyloids" but the fansub groups prefer using "-roid" instead because of "android".
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. The villainous organization is called "Deboth". While it sounds awkward, Toei insisted on using that spelling despite it was called Devoss/Deboss before and one of the rangers made a pun which the latter spelling is more appropriate.
- The Odd Couple: The boys befriend a Chinese wrestler (Jack Soo) who brings Felix and Oscar Jewish takeout- "chopped river", "rox" and "bager and cleam cheese".
- Seinfeld: Jerry's girlfriend, Donna Chang (who changed her last name from "Changstein" and is from Long Island and very occidental), says "ridicurous".
- The "Erizabeth L" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, where a stereotypical Asian director (claiming to be the Italian director Luchino Visconti) helms a production of Elizabeth R and insists that his actors pronounce it his way. This extends to the on-screen title.
- Monty Python also had a song on their audio recordings which was the old standby Anglican hymn "Jerusalem" with all the L's and R's swapped, thus retitling it "Jelusarem". ("And did those feet, in ancient times, wark upon Engrand's mountains gleen...")
- Chapman again played an Chinese stereotype in the "Cycling Tour" episode, who had difficulty pronouncing Cornwall. "Colrnlrnwarrll..."
- Chapman seemed to be fond of portraying the Chinese stereotype, as in the School Prize-Giving sketch where he portrayed a Chinese Maoist impersonating the Bishop of East Anglia and awarding the prizes to "Peopre's Repubric of China!"
- Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson sometimes indulges in this. For example his version (based on prior urban legend) of how the Mitsubishi Starion got its name is that the American advertising agency misheard the Japanese executive saying Mitsubishi Stallion, and ends with a comedy "marverrous". Then again, he switches into an equally daft American accent; "Ok, weeee'll have the BROchures prinned tonight!"
- Used (subverted?) in Da Kath and Kim Code (movie-length Christmas special of Kath and Kim). As the family is sitting down for dinner one of the characters says "this chicken is bloody rubbery". The others think he's making one of these jokes, but the "chicken" turns out to be the latex fake breast Kath had lost earlier in the episode.
- In the "China" episode of Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off, Giles attempts the same joke, which the waiter interprets literally and starts apologising for profusely, whilst Giles feebly explains what he was trying to do.
- Jasper Carrott did a routine referencing this about how if a group of British people go to any far-eastern restaurant somebody in the group will impersonate the waiter too loudly "Flied lice, ha ha ha! As if he's deaf! He gets it every night of his life. He goes straight to the kitchen and pisses in the soup, it's your own fault!"
- In an episode of Are You Being Served?, a Japanese Tourist came into the store with his "Cledit Caa" (Sooooooo!). Captain Peacock's attempts to communicate with him are at least as hilarious as the tourist himself ("You wanty buy?" "Whaty-wanty?") Also:
Captain Peacock: And this, Honourable Mr Lucas.Tourist: Rucas (bows deeply) Sooooo!Lucas: No, no, no, Lucas.Tourist: Rucas!Lucas: No, Luuucas—Captain Peacock: (interrupting) You must understand, Mr Lucas, that this gentleman is Japanese. He has difficulty getting his tongue 'round his "r"s.Long beat
- Get Smart had a Chinese villain who called himself "The Claw." Unfortunately, he had trouble getting this across properly. His catchphrase was "It's not 'The Craw,' it's 'The Craw!'" It gets better. In the Spanish dub of the show, the villain's name is (correctly) translated to "La Garra", and his catchphrase becomes "ˇNo es «La Gala»! ˇEs «La Gala»!".
- One episode of Have I Got News for You had a joke featuring this, resulting in one of the panellists complaining about "razy lacism". The Dutch version, after an item about an escalator being stolen in China, had a pun featuring this. Sadly, it doesn't work in English.
- In the pilot of Modern Family, Mitchell and Cam introduce their adopted Vietnamese daughter, who they've named Lily. Dimbulb Phil thinks she'll have trouble saying that name.
- Used on The Benny Hill Show, where you'll get things like "breast" instead of "blessed", "whore" instead of "whole", etc.
- On an episode of They Think It's All Over, the panellists were shown footage of a Japanese shouting competition and asked to translate the sentence being shouted into English. Team captain and former cricketer David Gower decided to poke fun at opposing captain and former footballer Gary Lineker's brief stint playing for Nagoya Grampus Eight by suggesting they were shouting, "Get that Rineker off, he's clap!"
- Official PlayStation Magazine featured a fake Japanese game contest commentator who employed this trope. As a joke, he once denied being one of the writers in a "lacist" persona.
- In a Cracked Mazagine spoof of Black Sheep Squadron many years ago, Capt. Boyington is disguised as a Japanese person. He gets almost found out at one point, being asked, "Are you sure you're Japanese?" To which he replied, "Of course. Didn't you notice I'm reversing my Rs and Ls?"
- As a matter of fact, the real Pappy Boyington did speak passable Japanese. He used this for entertainment during his time as a POW, taking advantage of the fact that few of the camp guards spoke any English. Boyington would approach a guard, smile, and compliment him profusely in Japanese. The guard would smile and thank him. Boyington would then switch to English, maintaining his smile and ass-kissing tone while insulting the living shit out of the oblivious guard (subjects included, but were not limited to, homosexuality, bestiality, questionable parentage, and who may or may not have fucked the guard's mother), who would continue to smile, nod, and thank him, to the endless amusement of the American and Australian prisoners.
- The DragonForce Gag Dub video "Herman Li is Cool" exaggerates Herman's accent by making him speak like this.
- The final gig of X Japan's 2010 North American Tour happened to be located at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. Yoshiki Hayashi had to talk about this in a promotional clip. The result? ROWSWAND BAWWROOM, MOTHERFUCKER!
- Gackt's tour named YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz. Or, as Gackt calls it, "YELLOW FLIED CHICKINZ." Fans have started referring to the concert as "Yellow Fudge Cakes" after Gackt's...interesting pronunciation.
- Rucka Rucka Ali (pronounced in the song as "Rucka Rucka Ari") is intentionally making fun of the various Asian stereotypes in "Ching Chang Chong".
- Rin and Len from Vocaloid are sometimes mistaken for Lin and Ren. Luka is also sometimes called Ruka.
- Miriam's genderbend is called William. In English, the two names don't seem to rhyme (genderbend names are usually supposed to rhyme with their real counterparts), but since the Japanese pronounce Miriam "miriamu" and William "uiriamu", they do actually rhyme.
- Played for laughs with Allan Sherman's song "Lotsa Luck":
When you buy a tape recorder of the automatic kind,
Lotsa luck, pal, lotsa luck.
If it's simplified for folks who aren't mechanically inclined,
Lotsa luck, pal, lotsa luck.
There's a small instruction booklet that's a hundred pages long,
And on page one, you get stuck.
It says, "If unsatisfactory,
You must bring this to the factory,"
But the factory's in Japan,
So rotsa ruck!
- Japan has a particular fondness for the Dullahan, an Irish legendary spirit who's similar to the Headless Horseman. However, there's a tendency to mistranslate its name back as Durahan. The Dragon Quest series and Monster Rancher are among the series to bear Durahans where they really should have Dullahans.
- The NFL blog "Kissing Suzy Kolber" does this with their fictionalized Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (an Korean-African American) character.
- There's a The Wizard of Id strip where a stereotypical Asian person gets tossed into the prison, and strikes up a conversation with perennial inmate Spook. He remarks that he's hungry, and would "rike big dish of flied lice". Spook tells him the food's bad enough already, don't go giving them ideas...
- Sometimes this isn't all bad. Though inaccurate, rolling elbow isn't as fearsome sounding as Roaring Elbow! is it? Ironically, it was an English speaker, Joey Styles, who turned this from Engrish to its standard name while observing Masato Tanaka in ECW.
- She's known as Malia Hosaka, except in FMW, where she was Maria Hosaka.
- Due to long stints in Japan, Low Ki's Finishing Move, Ki Krusher, is also known as the Key Clasher, despite him never calling it such.
- This is why Fergal Devitt became Prince Devitt when he went to Japan, as opposed to say, any delusions about his royalty, though he may in fact have those as well. Prince only has one r in it, so the Japanese fans could remember how to say it, but they seemed perpetually confused about how to say Fergal.
- Cherry has sometimes been billed as Che Li in Ice Ribbon, Neo Women's Wrestling and Dramatic Dream Team.
- Daijo: Osaka Women's Pro Wrestling will alternatively print veteran wrestling clown Piko's name as Doton Bolshoi and Dotonborishoi (it's in reference to Dotonbori Pro and Command Bolshoi, so it really is a matter of preference)
- Munchkin Fu, the version of the game that parodies martial arts movies and anime, has the card "Engrish Transrate Plobrem".
- Christmas Eve speaks like this in Avenue Q, plus idiosyncratic grammar. Her pronunciation of "recyclables" as something along the lines of "lee-psych-er-a-burrs" is incomprehensible to anyone but her husband. One of her songs is "The More You Ruv Someone (The More You Wanna Kirrem)."
- Steleotypicer, but rike she says, "Evelyone's a ritter bit lacist!"
- Used for a joke in "Gliding Through My Memoree" from Flower Drum Song, with an obviously Asian girl being passed off as Irish:
Frankie: Say something Irish.
"Irish" Girl: Ellin go blah.
- "Message from a Nightingale" in The Drowsy Chaperone, a King and I knockoff whose cast recording the Man in Chair accidentally plays instead of the eponymous Show Within a Show, abounds with this. Lampshaded by the Man in Chair, who notes the actor playing the Emperor is the same one performing Chaperone's comical Latin lothario:
Man of a thousand accents. All of them offensive.
- Shadow Hearts has the problem of the translators turning all R's into L's, and all B's into V's. There's a character called Halley - didn't it occur to anyone on the translation team that his name might be Harry?
- Persona 2: Eternal Punishment has the same problem with a spell: Lily's Jail or Release Jail?
- Final Fantasy IV: A lot of fans are pretty sure that Rydia was meant to be Lydia, a much more common English name (everyone else (with a real name) has an English name).note The mistranslation seems to have stuck, since it does sound appropriately exotic for the not-at-all-mundane character in question.
- Truth in Television: The endings to many Japanese-developed video games of the '80s and '90s managed to misspell "congratulations" along these lines. "Congraturation" was probably the most common, perhaps most famously in Stop The Express and Ghosts 'n Goblins; "conglaturation" showed up in the Ghostbusters NES game; and Ninja Kid II, a.k.a. Rad Action, even managed to misspell it "conglatullations". See also A Winner Is You.
- Ghostbusters for the Master System, while generally better than the NES game, had Gozer's name transliterated as "Gorza".
- Similarly, Samurai Shodown 4
conglaturated congraturatedcongratulated the battle winner with a message of "VICTOLY!"
- The King of Fighters: "Laund bun! Lady... Goh!"
- Another one from SNK is that they can't seem to know how to write "capoeira" (the Brazilian martial art style, which is used by Richard Meyer and Bob Wilson in the Fatal Fury series, as well as Soiree from KOF Maximum Impact): most of the time, they write it as "capoella".
- Also crops up in anime sometimes, though a little differently. On more than one occasion screens had announced missile lock with 'Rock On,' unintentionally invoking a different trope at the same time.
- An interesting example exists in Guilty Gear, where the special blocking technique that avoids chip damage but uses up the super bar can be transliterated as Faultless Defense or Fortress Defense, both of which describe the technique accurately. Also, a variant of an Animation Cancel move that requires super bar energy can be either False Roman Cancel (False because it resembles the real one but uses half as much energy) or Force Roman Cancel (an FRC can always be used, even if your attack misses, while a regular RC can only be used if you make contact).
- Arc System Works apparently likes puns based on this trope, considering that BlazBlue can be read as "Blaze Blue" or "Brave Blue" from the kana.
- Cooking Mama's eponymous character speaks with a very heavy accent.
- The name Gradius was a transriteration of "Gladius". In the arcade version of Wonder Boy In Monster Land, the sword you start the game with is called the "gradius".
- For those who don't get it: gladius is Latin for (a type of) "sword". The kind used by a gladiator, which Latin word has survived into English unchanged.
- Some sources call the fourth boss of Gradius IV "Belial", while the manual for the PS2 Compilation Re-release calls it "Viral", and the Shadow Gear is called "Club" (Crab) in some Japanese material.
- And Lord British / Road British in Salamander / Life Force.
- The Breath of Fire series is infamous for poor translations, especially the second game. This gives us such items as the "fishing lod".
- Kirby fans familiar with the early games may know a recurring miniboss character named Mr. Frosty, an ice cube-throwing walrus. The localization staff for Kirby and The Amazing Mirror must not have been so familiar, as the character was dubbed Mr. Flosty.
- In the NES version of Double Dragon, the name Roper is romanized into "Lopar" in the manual. The NES version of Double Dragon III has Bimmy Lee.
- Metal Gear:
- The main heroine in the MSX version of Metal Gear 2 is named "Horry". Later releases of the game spells it "Holly", but not before the "Horry" spelling showed up in the Previous Operations text-only recap of MG2 in Metal Gear Solid. Speaking of which...
- Metal Gear Solid:
- Otacon notes that REX was a joint venture with Rivermore National Labs, while this might be a Bland-Name Product, it is more likely a mistranslation of Livermore National Laboratory. This is backed up by fact that Otacon mentions the use of NOVA and NIF lasers, both projects done by Livermore National Labs.
- During development, the character Deepthroat was known in the script as 'Deep Slaught' due to mistranslation of the kana. This did eventually get fixed before the game came out.
- The Kaiju parody giant Genome Soldier from the Integral/VR Missions expansion pack and Updated Re-release is called "Genola". This was probably supposed to be 'Genora', as '-ra' or '-rah' is used as a slightly cheesy suffix for giant monster names in Tokusatsu.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:
- An interesting In-Universe plot point/Genius Bonus use of this - the name of the Government Conspiracy, "La Li Lu Le Lo", is based around the Japanese syllabary - Japanese phonemes are listed in 'a i u e o' order and the Japanese have no letter 'l', meaning that the organisation is named after letters that could but don't exist. This is related to the conspiracy having edited information to the point of stripping away whole letters in the alphabet so people can't think about it. Of course, the characters are all in-universe speaking American English...
- In a strange aversion for Too Soon reasons, in Metal Gear Solid 2 Kojima confirmed that the spelling/writing of Raiden's name was changed at the last minute from kana to kanji so that this would not transliterate his name into (bin) Laden, as the game was released shortly after September 11, 2001. Hideo Kojima was very nervous about this as the story (coincidentally) involved terrorists attacking New York.
- There is a credit for "Viblation effects" in the opening credits. Of the English version. Of both the Tanker and Plant chapters. And this wasn't fixed in the Updated Re-release either.
- Fortune's voice actress's name is misspelled in both the credits and Boss Subtitles as "Maula Gale" rather than "Maura Gale".
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots did a cross promotion with Assassin's Creed in which Altair's costume could be unlocked for Snake. The trailer announcing this ended with Hideo Kojima saying "Did you rike it?" in a hilariously thick phonetic accent, which the Internet leapt on for YouTube Poops and other such injokes. Noticeably averted in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, in which Kojima's Author Avatar says "Snake, what took you so long?" with an accented but still clear 'l'.
- Teliko's unusual name in Metal Gear Ac!d seems to be an attempt at an in-universe version of this - her birth name is actually the ordinary (if old-fashioned) Japanese woman's name "Teruko", which she supposedly disliked. However, when joining SWAT her name was misspelled 'Teliko' on her application form, which she decided to keep. Never mind that the mixup isn't between '-ru' and '-li' and that Teliko would have been writing her name in English characters anyway...
- Touhou 12.8: Fairy Wars has one of the more amusing instances of this, as the accompanying English translation for the final battle music with the intended Title Drop is written as "Faily Wars".
- An engrish mistranslation resulted in one of the bosses in Devil May Cry, Nero Angelo (Black Angel in Italian), being referred to as Nelo Angelo.
- Similarly, the fourth game has a demon named Berial, rather than Belial.
- Valis, or Varis? This mistake sometimes occurs in the English dubs of Valis 2 and III for the Turbo-Grafx 16. The Sega Genesis version of the first game has the caption "GET FANTASM JUELY."
- In the international version of Super Mario Bros. 2, the enemy Clawgrip was mistranslated as Clawglip. This error even remains in the SNES version (Super Mario All-Stars), but was finally fixed in the GBA version (Super Mario Advance).
- Origami Kid in Comic Jumper.
- The early The Legend of Zelda games had an enemy named Zola, which was changed to Zora in later games.
- Vowels are not exempt from this in Japanese, most especially the 'u' as pronounced in words like "bug" or "slug". In every Dragon Quest game prior to VIII, Bubble Slimes were referred to as Babbles. In Mega Man 2, one Robot Master is variably called either Clash Man or Crash Man, and many believe the actual name was intended to be Crush Man.
- Metroid: The "Varia" Suit was pretty obviously supposed to have been "Barrier" instead, due to its overall improved defensive ability and (eventual) resistance to extreme temperatures. Strangely, the manual for Metroid II even refers to the suit itself as the "Barrier Suit", and refers to the in-game "Varia" item as an upgrade to create it. Of course, the Varia Suit would eventually become a default to which other upgrades are applied.
- There is a Famicom game titled The Triathron.
- Journey To Silius has this, as the name was intended to be Journey to Sirius.
- Taiwanese game developers aren't immune to this trope, as demonstrated by Titenic.
- Data East released a game titled Death Brade (also known as Mutant Fighter).
- The Super Famicom Platform Game Jerry Boy (released in the U.S. as SmartBall, and not to be confused with a different SNES game titled Jelly Boy) has a main character resembling a blob of jelly. This is justified by him originally being an ordinary boy named Jerry, and a risqué pun on "cherry boy" may also have been intended, but the title screen of the unreleased sequel unambiguously says Jelly Boy 2.
- These tend to pop up in the Lufia series' translations, often in enemy names such as "Ramia" (Lamia), "Gorem" (Golem), and "La Fleshia" (Rafflesia).
- In Aero Fighters 2, "fly" is written as "fry" in several lines.
- Magical Chase has a shot power-up called "Balkan." It's probably supposed to be "Vulcan" and has nothing to do with Eastern Europe. Forgotten Worlds likewise features a "Balcan Cannon."
- Magical Error wo Sagase, an Arcade Game by Techno Soft, has a title screen asking the player to "Please Insert Corn."
- According to senior manager Seth Killian, Final Fight / Street Fighter character Rolento was originally to be named Laurence/Laurent, but then this trope got a hold of his name.
- Some of the Japanese names in Pokémon are actually supposed to be either foreign words or mashups of them. For example Magnemite is Coil. There was one Pokémon in particular in the 3rd gen that caused a headache for people - Manectric. The Japanese name is Raiboruto, which could be transliterated as Raibolt (which makes sense, given "rai" means thunder). Except the official transliteration is Livolt, completely opposite of what most people were expecting regarding the R/L and B/V issue. At least it still passes as a portmanteau of "Live Volt", maintaining the "electric creature" theme.note
- Subverted by the rhythm game Sound Voltex Booth; as its branding and interface has a highly futuristic and "electric" look, making it double as a Punny Name.
- Minky Monkey, a Technos Japan arcade game, has a "COPYLIGHT" notice on the title screen.
- In the English translation of Parodius for the SNES, one of the bullhorn messages is "ALL LIGHT NOW!" Of course, these messages weren't intended to be meaningful.
- Sometimes, old game sound chips couldn't even tell L and R apart. If you choose to hear them as such, for instance, Epsilon Eagle says "Ret's go!" and Neff says "Wercome to your doom!"
- On Nigahiga, Hanate (played by Ryan) from "How to be Ninja" and "Skitzo" speaks with this accent.
- In Greek Ninja, both Kana and Yamauchi-sensei say "haro" instead of "hello" when they first speak.
- Lampshaded in a Dysfunctional Family Circus caption.
(Thel reads a fortune cookie fortune.)Thel: "Vely Pletty Lady is..." wait, why would they use a bad Jerry Lewis oriental accent when they type??
- The Third Rate Gamer character Offensive Stereotype does this.
- A Not Always Learning story has a Japanese student in an English class telling a story that ends up derailing into Toilet Humour:
"As I finished the song, the auditorium was silent. I was very frightened. Then, one man began to crap. Then, another man began to crap. Soon, everyone is crapping. I think they enjoyed my song, after all.”
- Random Assault: The hosts are not above doing offensive Asian accents. Played straight with the title of episode 020: "Ret's Get Lacist!!"
- Kiyoshi's father from Chugworth Academy. This is the least of his problems, however.
- Nute Gunray in Darths & Droids.
As you know, our brocade is perfectly regal.
- Heiwa from Universal Compass
- Okashina Okashi (Strange Candy) has the "Rube Failies", who always switch their Rs and Ls.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! - When ordering at an ice cream parlor, a ninja orders tutti-frutti (adding an extra syllable to "furutti"), and then reveals in a thought bubble that he's annoyed because he wanted vanilla but wasn't sure he could pronounce it.
- A staple of many war time cartoons, like Tokio Jokio, Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips and The Ducktators.
- In one episode of Frisky Dingo, Grace Ryan goes undercover as a Japanese woman and takes it Up to Eleven with this trope, actually replacing her L's with W's more than R's.
- An East Asian pirate from several episodes of Archer also spoke like this. Bucky, the character in question, was voiced by James Hong.
- There was an extended joke in Drawn Together about this and driving, with a quote going something like:
Ling-Ling: Evelyone shourd realn to accept the way they L.
Captain Hero: Looking good, Ling-Ling! What's your secret?
- Ling-Ling actually pronounces his name "Wring-Wring" consistently throughout the series. (Which makes you think: Is he mispronouncing his own name, or is it really "Ring-Ring" but incorrectly romanized?) And in that same driving episode, his driving test's eye examination chart contains nothing but L's, all of which he pronounces "R".
- Not convinced yet that this show loved to run jokes into the ground? Behold!
Ling-Ling: [translated] Ling-Ling find great new shampoo ... also worst lingual enemy.
[holds up bottle of Prell]
Ling-Ling: P-plerww?Ling-Ling: [translated] Blests! Blests! You know, merrons, headrights, hootels, flied eggs, cleam puffs!
- There's also the local Chinese restaurant in South Park, the 'Shitty Wok' (City Wok). It's run and owned by Tuong Lu Kim, whose most memorable phrase is 'Herro, wercome to Shitty Wok, may I take your order prease?'. Becomes somewhat understandable when it's revealed that he's actually a white guy with a Split Personality, meaning that he's just imitating what he thinks Asians sound like.
- Taken Up to Eleven in the episode where the Chinese Mafia is shaking him down... by tipping over the food trays. "Not the shitty beef!"
- Also done in the appropriately-named episode "The Chinese Probrem", where Cartman and Butters are infiltrating PF Chang's to find out the Chinese invasion plans. Cartman instructs Butters that all he needs to do is squint and say "Herro, prease" to pass off as a Chinaman. Needless to say, the real Chinese people aren't impressed.
- Uncle Grandfather from Perfect Hair Forever speaks like this, being modelled as a stereotypical Asian Obi-Wan-style character.
- A Blue Racer cartoon has this lovely sign: "Colonel Kiochi's chicken farm; Finger ricking good flied chicken."
- The majority of examples above are "real life" in that they're not a result of someone deliberately attempting to invoke the trope, they're examples of the reason the trope exists in the first place.
- Since it's easier to learn an accent than a language, but you usually start learning a language with your own accent, a speaker with an otherwise good English accent might keep doing this out of habit even when they should know better.
- There are so many phonemes in all the human languages, you're are bound to mistake one sound for another.
- Arabic k and q are different sounds, but they're pronounced alike from speakers whose languages does not have them in their phoneme inventory.
- Korean differentiates between tense and not tense consonants, transliterated as k/kk, p/pp, t/tt, s/ss. They sound the same to those not trained in it.
- Spanish n and ń sound very different, but English speakers pronounce both as /n/.
- German u and ü are two different vowels, a distinction not carried in loanwords from German, such as 'über'.
- Finnish distinguishes between long and short consonants, as does Japanese: tili = "account", tilli = "dill".
- In World War II, this was also used as a shibboleth. If an American unit spotted someone claiming to be Filipino, they would ask him to say "Lollapalooza"; if they said "roraparooza", they were shot.
- US Marines in the Pacific would use words with lots of Ls as their perimeter passwords. On Guadalcanal, for example, if a Marine heard somebody move in the dense jungle, he gave the challenge "Lollypop." Anybody who didn't want a faceful of .30-06 or .45ACP had damn well better be able to pronounce the password, "Lillypad."
- Japanese immigrants to Spanish-speaking countries often have trouble when talking about an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist: they're known as "otorrinolaringólogos".
- Used frequently in stand-up acts, particularly that of John Pinette, when talking about a Japanese family wanting to see Free Willy. Hilarity ensues.
- Used for humor in the title of this track from Overclocked Remix.
- When Douglas MacArthur was considering running for President, a sign erected by Japanese citizens in Tokyo read: "We pray for MacArthur's erection."
- In Bill Bryson's BBC radio series about the English language "Journeys In English", one of his guests, a well-spoken Japanese university lecturer living in England, while speaking about the problems for any Japanese learning English still says "plonunciation" and "my Engrish sometimes causes some probrems".
- This is acknowledged by many Japanese citizens, particularly when they're attempting to learn English or similar... The word "Really" has proven to be a good test.
- Young children often pronounce Ls as Rs when acquiring their mother tongue. However, they are fully capable of telling the difference, evidenced in part by the fact it’s never the other way around.
- LUSH Cosmetics used to make a product called "Flosty Gritter", apparently named for a mistransliteration made by the Japanese LUSH product designer who invented it, Noriko Muira.
- The L/R confusion is actually not just a staple of East Asian languages. It happened in all Romance languages after the break-up of Latin. You can also find this sort of variation in some African languages and even European ones—consider, for example, the Spanish and Portuguese words for ‘white’, blanco and branco or 'beach', playa and praia. Likewise, Algeria is Argelia in Spanish. Even English and French have that effect, even though it seems to work in opposite directions: French has titre (‘title’), derived from Latin titulus, while English has purple, from Latin purpura. In general, some European languages and dialects have trouble with English Ls and Rs as well. Molisan, for example, has L and R sounds, but Ls and Rs are silent if preceded by certain vowel sounds. Attempts to render these in English are difficult even for experienced speakers, a common mistake is "Rey cherry"(really chilly).
- In a couple of Americanized Romance dialects, particularly Brazilian Portuguese and a couple of Caribbean French Creoles, the "back r" sound most associated with French and German becomes a /h/ or /ɣ/ sound, especially at the beginning of the word or what was formally a double r; for example, the title of the 2010 Brazilian novelty hit "Surra de bunda" note is pronounced, approximately, /'suha dʒi 'bũndə/.
- Polish, too: the Polish language differentiates between the "conventional" L/l sound and its own unique consonant, written as a "L" with a stroke through the upright as Ł, Ƚ, or small-case ɬ. This denotes a rounding-out of the "l" into something more of a "w" sound, on its way to being a non-rhotic "r".
- Another consonant that frequently causes problem with East Asian languages is F, which often winds up being rendered as "H" or "P". Interesting too is that F/P divergence also took place in the evolution of European languagesnote : for example, English "fish" vs. Latin "pisces," English "father" vs. Latin "pater," etc. (The latter is called "Grimm's Law," which was a major scholarly contribution by Jakob Grimm, of The Brothers Grimm fame, when the two were not working on dark folklore.)