In a scene between two or more characters, one of them might ask another to translate for them, but they give them "translations" that are so off-the-wall and far from the original meaning that it shocks the other party.
Compare My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels
, which is when someone trying to speak a foreign language does this accidentally, regardless of whether they're using a translator to do it or not.
When it happens only to subtitles, that's Fun with Subtitles
Sister trope to Translation with an Agenda
Contrast Tactful Translation
- In Space Dandy, Meow intentionally mistranslates the barks of the dog they find on Planet Machinia, because he's a cat and she's a dog... After Dandy activates his Universal Translator, Meow shuts himself up quick as Dandy gives him a Death Glare.
- A serious example in Stitched, Corporal Twiggy says her translator told the Afgani villagers she was addressing that the Americans were bad people, and if they listened to her they deserved a beating, instead of translating what she said.
- In The Goonies, Mrs. Walsh asks Mouth, who can speak Spanish, to translate her instructions to Rosalita, who doesn't know any English.
Mrs. Walsh: Pants and shirts are in the second. Just throw them all into cardboard boxes. Forget the suitcases. Clark, can you translate all of that?
Mouth: Why certainly, Mrs. Walsh.
Mrs. Walsh: That's wonderful.
Mouth: (to Rosalita, in Spanish) The marijuana goes in the top drawer. The cocaine and speed in the second. The heroin in the bottom. Always separate the drugs.
Mrs. Walsh: Now Rosalita, this is the attic. Mr. Walsh doesn't like anybody up here, ever. That's why it's always open.
Mouth: (in Spanish) Never go up there. It's filled with Mr. Walsh's sexual torture devices.
Mrs. Walsh: This is my supply closet. You'll find everything you need: brooms, dustpans, insect spray. I would really like the house clean when they tear it down. Clark, can you translate?
Mouth: (in Spanish) If you do a bad job you'll be locked in here with the cockroaches, for two weeks without food and water.
Mrs. Walsh: Okay, Rosie? Okay? You're going to be very happy here. Come on, Clark, we've got much more to do. You're so fluent in languages!
Rosalita: (in Spanish) My God, I'm in a crazy house!
- Lampshaded in Big Trouble in Little China, as Jack Burton and Wang Chi are sneaking around David Lo Pan's base.
Jack Burton: (pointing to Chinese writing on elevator) What does that say?
Wang Chi: (speaks Chinese) "Hell of Boiling Oil".
Jack Burton: You're kidding.
Wang Chi: Yeah, I am. It says "Keep Out".
- In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is Ian's Running Gag; in one memorable scene, he asks how to say "dinner's ready!" in Greek, but the phrase he's told actually means "I have three testicles!"
- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ace's translator understood the dialect of the other tribe perfectly. However decided to make a sound crazier and dangerous with what he told them he said. Including "I am a Princess".
- Whether he's trolling or not is slightly vague, as speaking a language fluently is a different ballgame from understanding it perfectly.
- In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Captain Corelli is one of a group of Italian soldiers occupying a Greek village. At one point, wanting to make a good impression on the villagers, he asks a villager who speaks Italian to teach him a greeting in Greek. The villager instead teaches him a spectacular insult, which he goes around cheerfully giving to everyone until he figures out something's gone wrong.
- The Marvelous Land of Oz. Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead visit King Scarecrow in the Emerald City. Because Jack is from the North territory and the Scarecrow is from the Emerald City, they believe they require a translator and ask the bystanding Jellia Jamb to translate for them. Jellia is telling each that the other is insulting them and for a short time they actually believe her. What they don't realize is that all the regions of Oz speak the exact same language, and they eventually realize their translator is messing around with them.
- In Red vs. Blue, Lopez tricks O'Malley into calling himself a pendejo (asshole in Spanish) among other things, thinking that he's giving orders to his robot army.
- In The Simpsons episode "Midnight Rx", after Homer, Ned Flanders, Apu, and Grampa Simpson are arrested by Canadian Mounties.
Canadian Mountie: We've confiscated your car and its contents.
French Translator: Nous avons confisqué votre voiture et son contenu.
Mountie: You may leave Canada, but never return.
French Translator: Vous pouvez quitter le Canada, mais ne retournez jamais.
Mountie: I am a big fat French idiot.
French Translator: Je suis un grand gros - HEY!
- In a Robot Chicken Star Wars parody, Evazan does this for Ponda Baba's innocent question to Luke Skywalker. (The two are architects, according to the skit.)