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Blind Idiot Translation / Tabletop Games

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Competition from the face to the office (Tabletop Games)

  • There are some bootleg Pokémon cards which included, as the Pokémon names, a description of their appearance. "Little Yellow Mouse (Evolves into Yellow Mouse)" for Pichu, "Small Worm" for Caterpie, and "Little Bird (Evolves into Bigger Bird)" for Pidgey, and the list goes on.
  • The Polish translation of Cyberpunk 2020 RPG consists mainly of things translated needlessly (like song lyrics used as one chapter's opening motto) or wrongly ("cyberwear" gets translated as "skin cyberations" in the description of boostergangs or "bag lady chic", ie. hobo wear, as "old fashioned"), but at least it's So Bad, It's Good when it turns "Input" (slang name for a girlfriend) into "Socket". At least it's consistent with changing "Output" (slang name for a boyfriend) into "Plug", forming an interesting Double Entendre. Curiously, the phrase "Stuffit" (slang name for sex) is entirely omitted from the Polish translation.
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  • Word of God has it that one of the Fantasy Counterpart Culture place names on the map of Mystara, a Dungeons & Dragons game-setting, translates as "Goat Dropping" in English.
  • The Spanish translation of FadingSuns RPG translated the word "peasants" as "hormigas guisante" ("peas ants").
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Spanish translation of the card Pride of Lions should be "Manada de Leones", instead we have "El orgullo de los leones" (as in the "feeling proud" kind of pride).
    • The Italian translation is often quite poor. The card "Mind Spring", clearly representing a flow of knowledge, had the spring translated as the bouncy, metallic coil. "Brush with Death", similarly, was given as "Brush of Death", the brush being a literal plant. In many other cases the wrong synonyms are used, and sayings wrongly interpreted.
    • The Brazilian translator for the card Miren, The Moaning Well got the "well" part confused, and it was translated to Miren, O Bem Lamuriante ("bem" is an adverb; "poço" or "cisterna" would be the proper translation for the noun form).
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    • Invoked and played for laughs by Rosewattastone, which takes the English versions of cards, puts the text through several iterations of Google Translate, and posts the results on Twitter.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Many card names have been translated literal, but out of context in the German version. For example, "Option Hunter" (based off of an enemy from Gradius who steals the ship's "Options") got translated as "Jäger der Möglichkeiten", which translates back as "Hunter of the Possibilities" and has nothing to do with the original monster.
    • And then this is the case of the "Anteatereatingant", who became an "Ameisenfressender Ameisenbär". This would actually be a translation of "Ant-eating Anteater", and thus reverses the roles once again.
    • Sometimes card names that were originally in English get mangled due to incorrect interpretation of the katakana. For example, the card known as Buster Rancher in the English version is clearly supposed to be Buster Launcher (Basutā Ranchā in katakana), and a lot of cards include the word "Des" (which is not a word in English at all), which anyone with even a passing knowledge of katakana could tell you is meant to be "Death". Other times, the name changes are just bizarre (Revival Slime getting changed to Revival Jam, despite the fact that the monster is blue and looks nothing like jam at all) not to mention inconsistent (Slime Zōshokuro - literally Slime Breeder Reactor - got translated to Jam Breeding Machine to match the change of Revival Slime to Revival Jam, but the tokens it produces are still called Slime Tokens rather than Jam Tokens).
      • There's also the zombie monster that ended up as Fushioh Richie, never mind that the katakana literally spells out "Nosferatu Lich".
      • Then there's the card Trap Dustshoot, which depicts a trapdoor into a dust chute.
      • Many cards had Gratuitous English names in Japan, which were inconsistently either left the same ("Silver Fang" is still "Silver Fang"), spiced up ("Cyclone" to "Mystical Space Typhoon"), or turned into Gratuitous Japanese ("Fireball" to "Hinotama"). Irritating for the purists, but there's a logic and intent to it... and then there's "Hurricane" being turned into "Giant Trunade." No, the Japanese word for "hurricane" is not "trunade." The nearest anyone's been able to guess is that it's an attempt to transliterate a heavily-accented Japanese pronunciation of the English word "tornado", never mind that there actually is a Japanese word for "tornado."
      • Blackbird Close ("Burakkubado Kurosu" in the Japanese card), based on the artwork, is clearly supposed to be Blackbird Cross instead, as in, "crossing into the sunset". The artwork is also meant to resemble one scene in the anime when Crow rides on his Blackbird to cross from Satellite side into Top side. Whoever translating the name must have been translating without checking the artwork, let alone the origin of the artwork.
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    • The Spanish translations fall into this an awful lot of times. There a ton of examples. It seems the Spanish translator for "Garbage Lord" couldn't even properly read the name and ended up translating the card's name as "Carga de Porquería" (Garbage LOAD), "The Tricky" was translated as "El Díficil" (made worse by the fact that the anime properly translated it as "El Tramposo"), "Qliphort Shell" as "Concha Qlifuerte" ("shell" as in computing shell doesn't have a translation in Spanish to begin with). Sometimes you wonder if the translator is an actual human being and not a machine, thanks to cards like "Dian Keto, el Señora de la Curación" and "El Mago Blanco Pikeru" that use a male pronoun to refer to clearly female cards. This extends to entire archetypes too; "Fabled" was translated as "Fabuloso"... when the proper translation is along the lines of "Legendary" or "Mythical". And in its worst form affects entire mechanics; "Tuner", something that in Spanish is known as "Afinador" is somehow translated into... "Cantante" (Singer). How the translator made the jump from someone that tunes musical instruments to someone that sings music is a mystery.
    • In the Japanese version, the Egyptian God Cards had English text on them that were English "translations" of their names. While Osiris (Slifer) and Obelisk got pretty okay translations (Saint Dragon - The God of Osiris and The God of Obelisk respectively), Ra got the bizarre translation of "The Sun of God Dragon". One assumes they were going for something like "Dragon God/God Dragon of the Sun" and got the word order wrong.
    • An inversion is the Elemental Mistress Doriado card (known as Elemental Master Doriado in Japanese, which actually makes more sense - "master" here is used in the context of "to master (to subject to one's will, control, or authority; to conquer; to overpower; to subdue)" which makes it gender-neutral - there is no verb "to mistress" in English). A lot of people thought it was supposed to be Dryad and that UDE (Upper Deck Entertainment) had translated it wrong, but one of the UDE employees posted on the official forums saying that Konami had told them it was actually supposed to be Doriado and not Dryad - the character is merely a woman who happens to be named Doriado, not a creature from mythology.
    • Italian translations have some goofs here and there, like in Magic above. V-Tiger Jet's first print had a mention of dogfight in its flavor text translated as it referred to literal dog fighting (with dogs). The error was fixed as soon as the card was printed in another set. An even more blatant error came with Naturia Eggplant, whose name was interpreted as some kind of fusion between a plant and an egg rather than the actual vegetable.
    • The Dragonmaid archetype revolves around monsters depicted as female domestic workers who can transform into dragons. The French translation of this archetype, "Dragonirène", seems to have misunderstood the "-maid" part of the name and instead of referencing domestic workers, it chose to reference mermaidsnote .
  • Warhammer 40,000 gives us an In-Universe example. The Space Wolves Space Marine chapter are so named because somebody in the Imperial bureaucracy screwed up his translation of "Vlka Fenryka", which actually means "Wolves of Fenris". Likewise their rank "jarl" got mangled into "Wolf Lord". It's not clear if the dozens of other terms using the "wolf x" convention are also a case of this... or the explanation for it. Another Fenris example comes up in a Horus Heresy novel where a daemon fails to use I Know Your True Name powers on the marine named "Bjorn" because everyone had been mistakenly calling him the translated-out "Bear" the whole time.
  • The German translation of the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons was filled with weird translations. Most egregious were a "torch" translated as "Taschenlampe" (electrical torch) and "box leaves" (from the box plant) as "Kiste Blätter" (a box of leaves).
  • The Forgotten Realms uses this trope in-universe as motivation for one of its greatest villains and also the guy who invented the ritual to create a Dracolich. Specifically, he translated a phrase in the prophetic book "Chronicle of Years to Come" as "And naught will be left save shattered thrones with no rulers. But the dead dragons shall rule the world entire." A translation by the mage Elminister corrected it to "And naught will be left save shattered thrones, with no rulers but the dead. Dragons shall rule the world entire."
  • The French Pathfinder wiki universally used créatures convoquées as a translation for "summoned creatures"... which roughly means creatures summoned to your office (or court, etc.), rather than Summon Magic (which would be créatures invoquées).
  • Invoked in the French card game Sky my husband, where the goal of the game is to find an English expression commonly used in French from its literal French translation. The French sentence is often chosen to sound ridiculous (for instance , "coureur de sphère"note  for globe-trotter). The name of the game itself is a literal translation of the stock sentence for adulterous wives "Ciel, mon mari!" (Heavens, my husband!).