When TV writers depict a foreign culture, they're prone to not doing the research, which results in all kinds of mistakes.
Sometimes, however, the errors made by those unfamiliar with the culture in question will be corrected by those who are. That is, translators adapting the show for their own country.
Common in English dubs of anime, which fix Gratuitous English
, but can occur with Western media when imported into a country other than the default one.
. Not to be confused with the Blind Idiot Translations
that are sometimes corrected into this, or with Translation Convention
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Anime and Manga
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the MAGI supercomputers were referred to as Magi Baltasar, Magi Casper and Magi Melchior (They come from the same source). Magi is the nominative plural or genitive singular of magus, so this was corrected in the English subtitles to Magus Baltasar and so on. Also, in the original, the Children were called "Children" in the singular (for example, "First Children" rather than "First Child"); this was similarly corrected, though, as revealed in the commentary for the DVD release, the translators apparently had a hard time convincing the original writers (whom they were in communication with to get the terms correct, and who had used "Children" intentionally) that "Child" was a better choice.
- And then there's the Gratuitous German, which is quite nearly intelligible in the English dub, unlike the original. This is due to Asuka's American voice actress being fluent in German. The writers gave her the lines in English and she translated on the fly.
- In The Big O, the main character at one point was called Megadeus Dominus [Big-God Master] and the translation changed it to Dominus of Megadeus in the dub and Dominus Megadeum (deum being accusative of deus) in the subtitles. Assuming the genitive "Master of the Big-God" was intended, the latter is still incorrect: the proper genitive case is actually Megadei.
- Then there are titles like Brain Powerd (Brain Powered in the US), Chrno Crusade (Chrono Crusade in the US), and Erementar Gerad (Elemental Gelade in the US).
- But not everything was corrected in Chrono Crusade; an on-screen caption indicates that the story is set in the borough of Brooklym. Oops.
- The English dub of the original Mobile Suit Gundam featured the famous city "New Yark", along with the "Great Canyon" in the former United States. These were corrected by Yas Yasuhiko when he did the manga adaptation "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin", where all the names were restored to their real-world spellings (except for "New Yark" being changed to Los Angeles for some reason).
- The latter change may not be related to translation, since for years there's been some confusion over whether a certain event (Garma's death) took place in New York or California. Inconsistent references, animation, and guidebooks are to blame for this.
- And then there's the ones that say it's Seattle, which does make a degree of sense, considering that the White Base's next stop was in British Columbia. This is possibly supported by the fact that, during that event, White Base hides out in what appears to be the Kingdome.
- In the Death Note anime, soon after Near shows up, an American FBI agent identified as Rally Connors is introduced. The English dub changed Rally to Larry, a much more common name.
- Narmful as some of the bizarre names in Death Note may be, the point of them was that they were so weird nobody in the real world would have them (in a story about a demonic notebook that kills anybody who's name is written in it, it's no trivial concern.) "Larry Connors" is far more likely to be a real person than "Rally Connors". (Indeed, yournotme.com tells us that there is at least one Larry Connors in the UK but needless to say no Rally Connors.)
- The Black Beauty Sisters' Invocation, "It's a show time!", is corrected to "It's showtime!" in every English release of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, even the error-ridden fansubs.
- The anime (Japanese version) corrected this, too: you can clearly hear the Black Beauty Sisters yelling "It's show time!" before singing their songs.
- The Pokémon anime has done this a couple of times. Occasionally, the original will have a trainer call an attack the Pokémon cannot use. The dub will fix this by having the trainer call a similar looking move it can use. For instance, when Ash battles Roxanne (Hoenn's first Gym Leader), she has her Nosepass use Hyper Beam in the Japanese version. Nosepass can't actually learn that move in the game, so the dub changed it to Zap Cannon, which it can use and the attack actually resembled a bit more closely. In another case, a trainer has a Bronzor use Teleport and the dub cut the scene out.
- Shown above: An early episode had a sign reading "Pocke Mon Land" (Pocket Monsters) in the original, which the dub corrected to "Pokémon Land" (however, it was apparently done before the Japanese officially romanised the name as "Pokémon", but even before then it was Pocket Monsters).
- While Pokémon has corrected things like this, there have also been cases where it was averted by 4Kids missing things, one notable example is the Primeape episode where you have an advertisement for the "Pockemon Leag". Norman Grossfeld and Michael Haigney also lampshade an instance in the DVD Commentary for Spell of the Unown where they forgot to fix an instance of "UNKNOWN" into "UNOWN". (Not to mention the general atrocious English in the shot in question, but it was practically a Freeze-Frame Bonus.)
- This is just one example of one of the few things the 4Kids dubs fix for all the things they "break". There is also an instance in One Piece where a sign was changed from "BooK" to "Books"
- Among much other Gratuitous English, the Britannian Empire of Code Geass had a organization called the "Knight of Rounds". The dub changed this to "Knights of the Round", which was obviously what they were going for.
- During the World Tour episodes of Digimon, Ken and Matt are assisted by a young Mexican DigiDestined. In Japan, her name was Chichos, which... isn't a name at all, and is one letter away from 'Chicos,' which means 'boys' in Spanish, so the dub renamed her Rosa. However, the Latin American Spanish version calls her Guadalupe.
- Also, the Australian boy Dingo becomes Derek.
- The "White Nuts" in Zillion were renamed the White Knights for the American release. The creator was reportedly upset to find out that "Nuts" in English could mean insane.
- While the American version of Sailor Moon was notorious for being badly adapted and translated, there's one thing that was fixed: Sailor Mercury's computer once had a joke showing the directives from RoboCop. The adaptation changed the subject to J. Smith and fixed the spelling of "innocent".
- The English release of Negima! corrected a grammar error in a spell that was written in one of their several Gratuitous Foreign Languages.
- In a variant of this, one episode of Sister Princess had the translations correcting an animation error. Due to a communications breakdown between the Japanese screenwriters and the animators, a character refers to the wrong legnote in a scene. The English dub and DVD subtitles changed the line to be consistent with the visuals. This makes it incorrect with respect to the spoken Japanese line, but which error are English-speaking audiences more likely to notice?
- In One Piece, there is a cover page where the shipwright Zambai talks to a customer. He asks the following question in a speech bubble with English text instead of the usual Japanese: "Three ship. And cola?". The official English translation correctly added plural so that he now says: "Three ships. And cola?".
- In the original Hellsing Ultimate OVA, Pip Bernadotte says Frankenstein when he clearly means the monster. The English dub corrected it.
- In one Tintin book, the name of the Banana Republic was San Theodoros... Theodoros being a Greek name... it was changed in Spanish to the correct form. "San Teodoro".
- A Spanish inscription on a statue in The Broken Ear names the country as "San Teodoro", at least in the English edition.
- The Black Island was extensively corrected when translated into English, changing everything from names (making sure Scottish characters had names that were actually Scottish), to the uniforms of the police officers and even the paint job of the trains, to be as realistic as possible.
- In X-Men, a recurring enemy is named Kenuichio Harada, aka the Silver Samurai. However, Kenuichio is an As Long as It Sounds Foreign name, not an actual Japanese one. In the Japanese version it becomes Kenichiro.
- In the movie Hidalgo, one of the character is worried about becoming a fifth wife to her future husband. However, in Islam, you are not permitted to have more than four wives simultaneously, so when it was translated into Egyptian Arabic, the references to fifth wife were changed to fourth wife.
- In American Pie, Nadia is referred to as "that Czechoslovakian chick," despite it being 1999. This was changed to Czech in (at least) the Czech and Russian dubs.
- In Anastasia, Rasputin in his song calls Anastasia by her amnesia alias (Anya), even though he has no reason to. The Russian translation of the song changed it to Nastya, the diminutive form of Anastasia.
- In Salt, the titular character is actually Russian, but her name is given as the masculine Chenkov rather than the feminine Chenkova. This is corrected in the Russian dub.
- The Russian dub of The Dark Knight Rises renamed Dr. Leonid Pavel (the poor guy has two first names instead of a first and last name) to Leonid Pavlov.
- The Japanese dub of Rising Sun changes the name of a Japanese character, Jingo Asakuma, to the correct Junko Asakuma.
- English translations of Around the World in Eighty Days fix Jules Verne's original references to Utah's "Lake Salt City".
- The German translation of Michael Crichton's Next fixes a German headline. The original had the headline as "Affe spricht im Dschungel, Flüche George Bush", which is a word-to-word translation of "Monkey speaks in the jungle, curses George Bush" - only that Flüche is not the verb, it's the noun. So the German version corrected it to something more headline-y, something to the effect of "Affe schwingt Reden, Zeugen verschlägt es die Sprache", which would be in English: "Monkey talks big / makes a speech, witnesses are speechless".
Live Action TV
- The Russian dub of Stargate SG-1 fixed some mistakes in the episodes dealing with Russians — in particular, the horribly-accented Russian dialogue from "Small Victories" was dubbed over, and the surnames of Dr. Svetlana Markov and Lieutenant Tolinev (both being women) were changed to their correct feminine forms — Markova and Tolineva, respectively.
- It's possible that the creators of the show realized their blunder and corrected in the episode "Full Alert". Daniel goes to Moscow and goes into an office looking for a "Captain Voronkov". The woman in the office tells him that she is Captain Daria Voronkova.
- The Russian translation of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys correctly changes "Hercules" to "Heracles", which makes more sense given that the show deals with Greek myths ("Hercules" being the Roman equivalent of "Heracles"). However, the reason for this is less the correctness of the name and more the familiarity of the Russian people with the myths of Heracles, whereas Americans are more familiar with the name Hercules. Besides, when most Russians hear the name "Hercules", they think of a brand of oatmeal.
- The German dub of Sherlock mixed this with Woolseyism. In the original, a grammatically challenged Belarusian prisoner says that if Sherlock can't get him off, he'll get hung, which Sherlock corrects to hanged. In the dub, the prisoner gets the grammar right on the last sentence, and Sherlock corrects it to shot, the actual execution method in Belarus.
- W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman's English translation of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny corrected the Gratuitous English in "Alabama Song" and "Benares Song"; as they explained, "pidgin English...is extremely effective when it appears in the middle of a German text, but when sung by characters to whom English is their native tongue, it has no point."
- In most English-language versions of Chess, Svetlana's surname is given as "Sergievsky", which is the masculine form of the name. In the 1991 Sydney production and the Swedish version, they correct it to "Sergievskaya". (The latter version also has Anatoly and Molokov referring to each other by the diminutive forms of their names.)
- The Polish version of 7th Sea changed the battle of Tannenberg to the Gruenweide, and corrected many nonsensical Ussurian (Russian) names of spells.
- Same thing with the German version, which changed Tannen to Tannheim, Insel to Inselburg, die Schwartzen Walden to die Schwarzen Wälder and a whole host of other things. For some reason, Fauner Konrad Pösen was left intact, even though Fauner is not a name in German and Konrad is a male first name (the character is female). The French version also changed the names of the noble families in Montaigne (France).
- In the Japanese version of Snatcher, "JUNKER" was originally an acronym for "Judgment Uninfected Naked Kind & Execute Ranger". In other words, a series of randomly-chosen words strung together with no coherent meaning whatsoever (then again, it is a Hideo Kojima game). When the game was ported to the Sega-CD for the western market, the meaning was changed to the somewhat more sensible "Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Ranger".
- The Fan Translation of Rosenkreuz Stilette did this with the game's many instances of Gratuitous German.
- Thunder Force V's boss descriptions, which were already in English in the Japanese version, were rewritten in more gramatically correct English. The voice that reads out the description, however, still goes by the descriptions from the Japanese version.
- The Japanese version of Yggdra Union has a female character named Emilio. While most Japanese players wouldn't know any better, the name sounds very masculine to the average Western audience. To avoid any unnecessary raised eyebrows, Atlus opted to change her name to the similar yet much more feminine "Emilia" when they translated the game into English.
- The weapon "Thor Hammer" in Fire Emblem Awakening, which had shown up in previous games but never in English, was properly renamed Mjölnir in the English localization. Likewise the ultimate wind spell, which was generally romanized as Holsety before, was changed to Forseti, which gets the mythological refference right.
- The Japanese-developed Game Boy Color port of Lemmings & Oh No! More Lemmings had numerous level name typos that were corrected for the international release.
- For Hatsune Miku Project Diva F, some slight instances of Engrish were corrected. For example, "Rest X Notes" seen during a Technical Zone became "Notes Left: X".
- Looney Tunes cartoons featuring Speedy Gonzalez are rife with fake Spanish and bad Mexican accents. This is not an issue with the Spanish dubs, which were done by real Mexicans.
- In the Japanese dub of the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, Shredder's real name was changed from Oroku Saki to Sawaki Oroku (Oroku was changed from his surname to his given name), since Saki is usually a female name in Japan equivalent to "Blossom". Similarly, Hamato Yoshi became Yoshihama Takeshi (Yoshihama being his new surname) for the same reason.
- In fact, this is lampshaded in both the Japanese dub and the anime OVA by Krang, since he annoys him using "Sawaki-chan". Shredder IS NOT pleased to be called with that name.