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Good Bad Translation

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No, he's not involved in that Troubles.
I think there are a number of factors that combine to make All Your Base a fairly virulent meme. First, the incongruity of "engrish" in a reasonably nicely produced game is funny, much like professionally printed signs that happen to contain typos. Second ... it works well as a catchphrase and slogan and fits easily into many different contexts. And, as any 12-year-old or online gamer knows, anything that was funny once is funnier when you repeat it 100 times.
— A quote from Wired's 2001 article, explaining the cultural effectiveness of Zero Wing's famous line.

Whether it be due to bad translators or just being a rush job, sometimes you get a bad translation. The wording might be funky, the grammar might be off, or someone just might have flubbed the line. But people might like it anyway.

This kind of translation becomes popular with the fans, either because it is unintentionally hilarious, or because it's memorable and amusing to repeat — it's So Bad, It's Good. It becomes so popular that fans will insist on it; the developers, under fan pressure, won't correct the mistake after the fact, and reprints and sequels will keep the mistranslation.

See also Translation Train Wreck for gibberish translations that may fall under this trope. Related to "Blind Idiot" Translation. Compare the intentional versions, Gag Dub and Intentional Engrish for Funny. Contrast Woolseyism, which is well-presented but just different from the source material.


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    Action Adventure 
  • From The Legend of Zelda:
    • The original The Legend of Zelda is famous for its mistranslations, which were humorous for being obtuse and not always making a lot of sense; for example, "Eastmost penninsula is the secret," [sic] and "Dodongo dislikes smoke." The most enduring are "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!" and "It's a secret to everybody," which have inspired many in-jokes and Shout Outs. Sadly, the GameCube and GBA rereleases make things at least a little better.
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has a character who says, "I am Error." It's often thought to be an example of this trope, and it is — but not for the reasons most people think. Most people believed it was an awkward rendering of an actual error message; in fact, the character's name actually is "Error." A man in Mido will even reference him by name (if you manage to get that far). The translation mistake comes from another character being called "Bagu"; his name was supposed to be "Bug," which would have given us Bug and Error. Nintendo themselves had to confirm this was the case, and they weren't above referencing it later; a robot boss in Super Paper Mario says the phrase after his systems are attacked.
    • The last boss of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening's final form is named DethI, which is pronounced Death Eye. However, because supplementary material had the name written down that way (with the uppercase "i" looking almost exactly like a lowercase "L"), the nickname "Dethl" (with a lowercase "L") has become a fan-accepted version of his name.
    • Also in Link's Awakening, the "Bucket Mouse" answering the phone in Old Man Ulrira's house is actually meant to be a reference to the fishing shop Bucketmouth in Osaka, Japan. But this inside joke would go over English speakers' heads, and the idea of a talking mouse with a telephone living in a bucket somewhere on Koholint Island is pretty amusing in its own right.
    • The name Darknut may be a bit silly, but it's more memorable than Dark Knight.
  • Cave Story gave us a number of mistranslations that became popular among the fans, including the name "Grasstown" (originally something like "Bushlands"), and the nonsensical "Litagano motscoud", which translator Aeon Genesis didn't notice was supposed to be a backwards Title Drop. Nicalis's translation changed some of these to be more accurate.
  • The original English dub for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a rich source of Narm Charm for a lot of players. Many of these players were not pleased when the PSP remake redubbed all the lines.
  • The first island of Higemaru Makaijima: Nanatsu no Shima Daibouken is meant to be a reference to Cook Island, a Pacific Ocean island. Because of how katakana sounds, the game sends you with it with "WELCOME TO CUCK ISLAND".

    Adventure Game 
  • The Russian-developed point-and-click adventure game, Midnight Nowhere, features numerous bizarre and hilarious lines when looking at the scenery. For example, looking at a stethoscope on a dead doctor's desk will produce the line, "He's probably lying here to show off. It's like he's saying, 'I'm not just wearing my pants out, I've got medical training!'". It's all rendered in voiced, well-emoted English.
  • The Spanish translation for The Secret of Monkey Island did this during the insult swordfighting sequence. The closest counterpart for the slang I am rubber, you are glue is Botellita de Jerez (todo lo que digas será al revés, everything you said will be reversed). However, it was literally translated as Yo soy cola, tú pegamento, resulting in a very funny phrase that lacks any coherence. It got very popular, becoming an icon of the game and even being preserved in the remake.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Among many other examples in River City Ransom, one of the gangsters' anguished cries of pain was translated as "BARF!" For the translation of River City Ransom EX, Atlus not only kept this in, but they even made a wallpaper bearing the phrase.
  • The NES version of Double Dragon III has Billy's name misspelled as "Bimmy" in the opening of the 2-Player Mode. The 1-Player Mode uses the correct spelling. Double Dragon Neon has a Shout-Out: a Dual Boss's Boss Subtitles is "Mistranslated Mutants: Bimmy and Jammy".
  • The X-Men arcade game is so famous for its poorly translated dialogue that original lines like "X-Men, welcome... to DIE!" were preserved when the dialogue was re-recorded for a later Xbox 360 release.
  • Pu·Li·Ru·La's broken English translation only adds to the game's surreal quality.

    Fighting Game 
  • The Samurai Shodown series is famous for absolutely ridiculous translations. The fourth game in that series gave us the phrase "VICTOLY!" Even the title isn't spelled right (apparently an artifact of when the game was to be called Shogun Shodown). Knowing SNK, whether this was intentional (at least from the second game onwards) is anyone's guess.
    • The famous intro text about the man who "try to make his skill ultimate" and was "involved in The Troubles". Of all the ways to say that they got into trouble, they used a common term for the "Northen Ireland Conflict".
  • Keitai Denju Telefang was a monster-fighting game released in Japan only. Bootleggers "translated" the game into English and packaged two versions of the game under the names Pokemon Diamond (not to be confused with the game released for the DS in the mid-to-late '00s, which is a real Pokémon game) and Pokemon Jade. The translation contains lines like "For the clever opponent, Injure increase!!", "Let us go to see the ball!", "Shit! Remember it!" and "I will use my strength to LET YOU SHUT UP!". Even the battles have their share of Engrish: "Some points of [number] lost!" Other than that, though, it wasn't a bad game.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, one of Zell's attacks is called "Meteor Barret." It's likely they meant "bullet" (and not the giant black man from Final Fantasy VII). Flavor text in Dissidia Final Fantasy gives this a Shout-Out (presuming they didn't just make the same mistake twice) when it describes Squall's gunblade as shooting "barrets."
  • "A Winner Is You" from Pro Wrestling is so much of a meme that it named the trope for disappointingly sparse video game endings.
  • Street Fighter II gave us Ryu's boast: "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!" This gave rise to a persistent Urban Legend of Zelda (and April Fools' Day joke) that there was a secret boss character named "Sheng Long". In fact, "Sheng Long" is the Chinese name for Ryu's Shōryūken; more accurately, the quote should have been, "Until you can overcome my Shōryūken, you cannot win!" The SNES port fixed this translation, but it further muddied the waters by claiming in the manual that both Ryu and Ken were disciples of a "Master Sheng Long." It even inspired Akuma's appearance in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. It came to a head in Street Fighter IV, where Capcom announced that Gouken was "really" Sheng Long, and one of his win quotes was "You must defeat me to stand a chance!"
    • Come Street Fighter 6 and Sheng Long is real! At least in World Tour mode, as a late-game NPC during the "Fighty Mighty" side quest.

  • A famous (or rather notorious) doujin H-Game for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, called Phoenix Drive, was translated from Japanese into English by someone who didn't seem to be fluent in either language. The game was laughable enough as it was, but turned into outright hilarity and unintentional brilliance with such lines as "I will beat a rod till... a tank empties," "Does sperm collect to your lower part of the body in large quantities?" and "Hey, Ni-ick. Your [Penix Wright]." Even the work-safe scenes are wonderfully Narmful.

    Idle Game 
  • Battle Cats Rangers had a hilariously terrible translation when it was first released. The most notable example would be the name of a power-up that causes a Viking Cat to attack the opponent from behind, which ended up being called "Butt Warrior." Fans considered this the best part of an otherwise So Okay, It's Average game, and weren't pleased when updates to the game eventually fixed some of the poor translations.

    Light Gun Game 
  • Time Crisis. "Don't come! It's a trap! Oh noooooo!"
  • House of the Dead is full of these: "You must stop Curien, or else something terrible will happen!", "Don't Come! Don't Come!", "Suffer like G did?"

    Platform Game 
  • At the end of Ghosts 'n Goblins:
    • "Congratulation. This story is happy end. Thank you."
    • "Being the wise and courageour knight that you are you feel strongth welling. In your body. Return to starting point. Challenge again!"
    • "This room is an illusion and is a trap devisut by Satan. Go ahead dauntlessly! Make rapid progres!"
  • Ghostbusters for the NES had an Engrish final message: "Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go rest our heroes." This is actually an improvement over the original Japanese ending, which had "grate" instead of "great" — or rather would have had if it didn't display nonsense Hiragana due to a glitch. The 2009 Ghostbusters game has the phrase on a PC screen in the office.
  • Metroid
    • The Varia Suit in the first Metroid was actually originally meant to be called the Barrier Suit, but instead of fixing the mistake, it was kept. The reasoning was apparently that since the Varia Suit can handle many different variable conditions of planets, it could also be short for "Variable Suit". The manual for Metroid II: Return of Samus called it the "Barrier Suit"; the game itself uses "Varia".
    • The planet was known as Zebes in the manual for the original Metroid, but was called "Zebeth" in the game's opening, and in some early sources. The confusion comes from the katakana rendering, "Zebesu."
    • "Chozo", the name for the series' powerful bird creature race, was used in the original Japanese specifically for the bird statues scattered throughout Zebes. The word chōzo itself is Japanese for "carved statue"; Japanese media referred to the bird-people as chōjinzoku which literally just means "birdman tribe". When a Western studio did Metroid Prime and used the name "Chozo", it was adopted back into Japanese media as well, as a contraction of the original name.
    • The original Metroid ended with the Gratuitous English message, "Great !! You fulfiled your mission. It will revive peace in space. But,it may be invaded by the other Metroid. Pray for a true peace in space!" [sic]
  • Contra III begins with one of the heroes suggesting, "Let's Attack Aggressively!" It's not even a direct translation; the Japanese line is "Let's greet them with style!" As a Shout-Out, Pliskin uses this line in Contra Rebirth, and the line is also voice-acted in Contra IV, when the heroes of Contra III are unlocked.
    • The unlicensed NES port by Ei-How Yang, Contra Spirits, has thending, as well as a completely different take on the intro:
      A GAME
  • In The Goonies II, whenever you try to "PUNCH" an NPC, they will respond by saying "Ouch! What do you do?" (instead of "Ouch! What did you do that for?")
  • When raocow did his Let's Play of the Super Mario World romhack known as VIP, a member of his forum attempted, with varying levels of success, to translate the various level names into English. This resulted in one level being called "Dodge the Beefsteak!" (a more proper translation would have been "Avoid the Enemies"). Later, an actual Japanese speaker did a proper translation of VIP for Raocow, but she left "Dodge the Beefsteak!" alone because it was just too funny.
  • Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has an understandable, but poorly-worded translation, leading to things like this:
    Kalinka: (referring to an upgrade) I suppose I put it on the doggy. ... All OK.
    Dr. Light: W... what you said?! No joking, Rock!

    Puzzle Game 

    Racing Game 
  • The 1989 Atari arcade game S.T.U.N. Runner had minimal text that needed to be translated into Japanese, and most of it could have been left in English without losing anything. Unfortunately, the Japanese fluency of whoever "translated" the game was, at best, rudimentary. By far the most infamous part of its translation is the equivalent of "insert coin." Instead of leaving it untranslated (as many Japanese releases did), or translating it as anything remotely sane, they mangled it into コインいっこ いれる koin ikko ireru (roughly translated as "you can insert coin x1"). Okay, it's worded slightly awkwardly, but maybe it's not that bad—but then it keeps showing up everywhere "insert coin" appears in the original game. It's no exaggeration to state this is the Japanese equivalent of "all your base are belong to us," with references to and parodies of the line frequently appearing within gamer culture.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The first installment of the Flash game Feudalism is plagued with misspellings and typos, such as "Soul Braker". This was funny enough not to have been "repaired" in the second game.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy gives us "I, Garland, will knock you all down!" which was kept for the GBA rerelease. The line did not, however, make it into the PlayStation version, Final Fantasy Origins. Origins came first, which means the line was removed, then put back in for the GBA version. The line also made it into the PSP 20th anniversary edition.
    • In Final Fantasy IV, when Tellah fights Edward, the original featured Tellah calling out Edward for taking the sage's daughter away. The original English script featured, instead, the line "You spoony bard!". "Spoony" here is an obscure word meaning "foolishly or sentimentally in love" — technically correct, but hilariously awkward to use. This line proved to be so popular that it's in every single English re-release, even if other lines have been translated more appropriately. The DS remake even has a Developer's Room where one of the translators says they fixed the erroneous translations, but "the bard was spoony — we checked!"
    • Final Fantasy VII wasn't really cerebral, but it graduated into an outright Mind Screw in the English version because of the dodgy translation. This may have been one of the reasons Western fans found the game so fascinating (and funny). The PC edition corrected some of the more obvious mistakes.
      • It all starts in the credits, where the head guy is credited as "Executive Produce". Cue jokes from the fanbase about how Hironobu Sakaguchi is secretly a vegetable.
      • While not exceptionally mangled, the phrase "This guy are sick" was so hilariously out of place that it's become something of a shibboleth amongst Final Fantasy VII fans to identify the newcomers.
      • The Gold Saucer Arena had an error in the punctuation of the quit option. When asked if you want to continue, you get "Off course!" for yes and "No, way!" [sic] for no.
      • Now that's a typo that will poque even your interest.
      • Look for something called "Secret"!
      • At one point, Reno tries to slap some sense into Elena by telling her "You're a Turks!", which did lead people to wonder if "Turks" actually was the title for a singular member.
      • One bewildering exchange has Cloud announce, "...Hmm. That's how you'll fool them", and Aeris respond, ".........Hmmmmmmm. So that's how you fooled them." The original exchange was supposed to be more along the lines of: "Looks like I have to go in to the brothel to complete my disguise." / "Oh, so that's your excuse?", but Aeris' line was translated incorrectly, then accidentally duplicated and assigned to both characters, after which another localizer adjusted the lines to suit Cloud and Aeris's established speech patterns without fixing the problems.
      • The gag where Tifa becomes concerned that Barret's looking up her skirt is so garbled as to be lost entirely, instead giving the impression that she suddenly freaks out about his height for no reason.
      • There are a few moments where unnatural construction gives the dialogue a sort of poetry. One example is when Sephiroth attempts to explain that Jenova is a shapeshifter, instead phrasing it as "The power to change one's looks, voice and words; that is the power of Jenova."
      • The German version went one step further and didn't translate a few lines of text at all. This leads to Yuffie starting a sentence in German, changing to English mid-sentence, and then switching back to German.
      • The French version didn't want to be left out, so aside from generally being full of grammatical mistakes, typos, and just plain awkward sentence structure and choices of words, some sentences are repeated for no reason; or, at the other end of the spectrum, just stop halfway through. Two shining examples are the Nail Bat weapon, translated as "Coup d'ongle", Nail (as in fingernail) Strike and Sephiroth revealing in Cloud's flashback that, instead of Jenova being his mother's name, she's his mother, period.
      • The Spanish version fares no better, having typos where Cloud is a she (ella) and Aeris a he (él); and a scene when Cloud is going to join the "party" upstairs—"party" as in a group—translated into Spanish as "fiesta".
    • Final Fantasy VIII:
      • As noted above in the Fighting Games folder, one of Zell's moves was translated as "Meteor Barret" instead of "Meteor Bullet". In Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, when a vision of Zell was added to the game, not only did the move keep its FF8 name, but Squall (also originally from the same game) gets four different moves that all have "Barret" in them. This is certainly intentional; several other characters (such as Amelia and Lucille) have moves with the same katakana in their names but properly translated as "Bullet" (such as "Killer Bullet" and "Stun Bullet").
      • VIII is downright weird when it comes to the French translation. Between several instances of Breaking the Fourth Wall (mainly from Squall), item names that make no sensenote  or have been invented out of nowherenote , characters and creatures that switched namesnote  and a so-bold-it's-funny case of Bowdlerizenote , the whole experience feels quite strange. Nobody knows if the translators had no idea of what they were doing and winged it, took a lot of creative liberties or thought using made-up words would fit better.
  • MapleStory used to be filled with these (most famously Horned Mushrooms being called "horny mushrooms"), as well as occasional lines not translated from the original Korean at all. As of the Big Bang patch, most of those have been fixed, but that didn't stop the launch version from being advertised as now being available "in broken English."
  • Persona received a remake in the PSP which overhauls the dialogues. One line from the original remains: Mark danced crazy!
  • Persona 3:
    • The game mistranslated "Ceylon tea" (as in, tea from Sri Lanka) as "Cylon Tea", which made people giggle. Considering Atlus USA's penchant for minor gags and shoutouts in its Shin Megami Tensei translations, however, it was very likely intentional.
    • The post-battle stats screen is full of odd phrases. Normally, it says "EXP: It is the experience value acquired by the battle", although earning an item will add "ITEM: It is the item obtained by the battle." Getting bonus experience points results in the phrase "Great! He is an uncanny fellow!" This doesn't happen from any other Shuffle Time result.
  • A Vietnamese bootleg translation of Pokémon Crystal made famous in a Let's Play by DeliciousCinnamon on YouTube. Among other things: Professor Oak claiming that everyone call him [sic] "ELF MONSTER", the player character's mother preparing "VOLCANO BAKEMEAT", "put in" being translated as "fuck", nonsensical Pokémon names such as "OUD" (Sentret) and "LAP" (Pidgey), Totodile using scratch being displayed as "Croc scrah", Silver's dialogue making absolutely no sense, and a Pidgey saying "LITTLE STRAWBERRY ME BABY" if you talk to it.
  • Secret of the Stars has a laughably bad translation possibly caused by little faith in the game's success in the United States or Tecmo simply not caring. This gave us such lines as "SCATT THE DOG-PILL," "CHAINMALE," AND "WHAT? YOU'RE SO ANYTHING! GO TO THE CIRCUS NOW!"
  • Sword of Paladin RE: The current state of the translation is absymal, with bad grammar, awkward word choices, and inconsistently translated names. However, there are many unintentionally funny and narmy moments, such as Clifford leaving the party by "breaking up" with Nade, Nade and Chris having a "hot night," Red Rose claiming that she "comes" when sinking ships, and characters yelling "Gosh!" in serious situations.
  • Most of the spelling and grammar mistakes that appeared in the first Wild ARMs game were corrected in its rerelease, Wild Arms Alter Code F. However, the Artificial Humans in the game were still called "Holmcross" instead of the correct "Homunculus" because fans felt it was emblematic of the series.
    • The remake also made some new errors. Jack van Burace was originally supposed to be Jack Vam Brace, to reference his past as Knight of the Vambrace. The remake kept his mistranslated name, and then changed his former title to Knight of the Gauntlet.
    • Wild ARMs 2's translation is also seriously flawed, but at least one "mistake" turned into accidental genius. The game's Goldfish Poop Gang, Liz and Ard (who happen to be aliens), are turned into Cloud Cuckoolanders whose dialogue is both incomprehensible and hilarious. They were already comic relief characters in Japan, but translating Liz's "poetic" dialogue literally produced something much more entertaining than it has any right to be.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • R-Type: "The Byde Empire was annihilated to never scare people again."
    • The sequel also has "The Bydo empire whice was attempting to expand its territory over this wide galaxy collapsed here" and "Many planets were invaded by the evil empire and turned into Death Stars..."
  • The English Sega Mega Drive version of Zero Wing famously gave us "All your base are belong to us." It's so iconic that even though the Steam version features a new intro with an improved translation, "All your base are belong to us" is still preserved in all its Engrish-y glory.
  • While the English localization of the first Castle of Shikigami game was just plain bad, the second and third games tilt more toward the So Bad, It's Good scale, if still somewhat incomprehensible.
    • "Oh, you're into THAT."
    • "I like girls. But now... it's about justice."
  • The English Dreamcast version of Bangai-O: There are popular rumors that suggest that the English script is either an intentional Homage done by the localization company to poor translations of the golden era of video gaming, or that Treasure had sent a preliminary translation of the script that said localizers liked so much that they left it as is in the game. Regardless , fans wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Beating Gradius III for the SNES on the hidden "Arcade" difficulty setting would end the credits with the baffling message "I'M GIVE UP YOUR APPELLATION'S TECHNICAL MONKEY". This may mean "You've won. Your ranking is: Cheater".
  • The Data East shooter Bloody Wolf (more precisely, the European arcade version retitled Battle Rangers) has such gems as: "YOU! INVADERS! GET YOU THE HOT BULLETS OF SHOTGUN TO DIE!"
  • Aero Fighters: "I never thought I'd be frying" over a jungle.
  • Armed Police Batrider brings us wonderful song titles such as "Choice Or Die" (menus), "Let Ass Kick Together !" (ground boss), and "Chop U!" (air boss).
  • The instruction manual for Thunder Force VI shows a prototype continue screen: "DO YOU WANT TO CONTINUE? PLEASE SELECT YOUR MIND." (The second sentence was changed to "PLEASE SELECT YES OR NO" in the final release.)
  • DoDonPachi: "How dare you penetrate my territory ? You have robbed everything I possessed. You knoe,what you've done to me is just unforgivable. I'll punish you myself and see to it that you die a miserable death with my awesome weapon. Die,maggotts."
  • Blazing Star: "You fail it! Your skill is not enough, see you next time, bye-bye!" This was the Trope Namer for Epic Fail.
  • Touhou Project: "Girls do their best now and are preparing. Please watch warmly until it is ready."
  • CAVE games have long started with legal warnings against playing the games outside Japan, ending with "Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam." When Mushihime-sama and DoDonPachi: DaiFukkastu received Steam ports, it was reworded into grammatically correct English, changing the context to warn against playing the game on other planets, while still mentioning the jam.

    Simulation Game 
  • The various Harvest Moon games are known for their somewhat lovably bad translations, which run the quality gamut from "Actually not bad" to "lol wut." Most famously, in Harvest Moon 64, Natsume misspelled their own name on the title screen (sort of). The best-known, though, is "Confirm the origin of fire!", which was in several games.
  • Start screens have always been a bit of a challenge for Natsume: Harvest Moon 64 welcomed players to "Push the START".

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Metal Gear
    • The NES port of Metal Gear gave us "The truck have started to move!", "I feel asleep!", and "Contact missing our Grey Fox".
    • The European localization of the MSX original was even worse. "Penetrate the enemy's Outer Heaven and destoroy the ultimate weapon Metal Gear." "Mision! Gain access to the enemy's fortress, Outer Heaven." And cigarettes are "Cigals", and landmines are "L-Mains".
    • Snake's Revenge, the NES sequel to Metal Gear, was ostensibly written with the American market in mind. However, it features dubious lines like "here are three graves for you!" or "that room is filled with gas". One of the most infamous examples is a segment where an enemy spy in disguise tries to misdirect Snake with obviously deceptive advice such as "there is no trap in that car" or "there are no enemies in that room".

    Survival Horror 

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Professor Daravon was famous for such lines as "This was the darkened items won't appear."
    • "I got a good feeling" would occasionally pop up in tavern mission reviews. Like the Spoony Bard reference, it got a Shout-Out in Final Fantasy XII, but it didn't make it into the PSP remake.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 referenced a similar interjection from tavern mission reviews: "This is the way!" Both "I got a good feeling!" and "This is the way!" are random exclamations that party members issue while the mission leader is trying to recap the events of the mission to the player. Fittingly, "This is the way!" is the name of the document in FFTA2 that tells you about the implementation of a similar mechanic in that game.
    • "Surrender, or die in obscurity!", which the PSP version retranslated as "Lay down your swords or die clutching them! None shall mourn your passing."
    • The entire translation of Tactics gave memorably awesome lines, sadly removed in War of the Lions, like Delita's "Don't blame me. Blame yourself or God."
    • The prologue sets the stage (and the sort of translation you're in for) by explaining that the kingdom is having some trouble with rebels plotting rebellion because they have l i t t l e m o n e y. It's apparently written that way to make the text move slower; the translators were apparently asking for a pay raise.
  • An interesting Fan Translation example occurred with the fifth Fire Emblem game. Most of the FE community relies on a fan who goes by "Firelizard" for translations, and they're usually quite good. While working on Thracia 776, Firelizard hit a snag and asked a message board for help, asking if anyone knew a more... elegant way to say "Purple Dragon Mountain". Everyone was too amused and the name stuck. The same translation also has "Murder Hollace", both the name of a chapter and a concept that gets brought up in dialogue. Firelizard claimed it's a real medieval term for a strategy where you lock yourself the enemy in a room and fight to the death, but no one can confirm if that's true, and it's likely just Gratuitous English for "Murder Holes". It's become so iconic to the Fan Translation though, that no one wants to change it.
  • Tactics Ogre:
    • In the original version, Thunder Maiden Arycelle Dania was supposed to be called "Alocer" based on the Ars Goetia Theme Naming. However, when the PSX version came out, her name became Aloser. But since she remained a Game-Breaker despite such name, it was considered a charm on its own.
    • The PSX version had a boatload of profanity, using everything short of the F-bomb. Vice was particularly foul-mouthed for a "good" guy; one of the first things he says is to call the hero's sister (and his childhood friend) Kachua a "bitch", and he says "shit" practically every other sentence. Such language, though, did contribute to the game's dark and cynical setting, and the worst of the swearing was largely limited to characters who were established to have short tempers and violent tendencies. The PSP remake of the game eliminated almost all the cursing in favor of a more sophisticated manner of getting their anger across, to some fans' disappointment.

    Visual Novel 
  • At one point in Ever17, you have the dialogue choice of "Naturally I knows the hacker." (It's meant to be something like "Of course I know what hacking is.") The rest of the translation isn't too great either, but this one line became one of the most quoted phrases from the game.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, if you get the bad ending in the final case, you are treated with the line "The miracle never happen..." in the cutscene that follows.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Half, Dug Fin's ultimate weapon is a sword that was initially translated as the "Godslayer of Hit Points". When retranslated for a DVD release, this line was kept in the subtitled version. The dub contains the better translation, "Demon Sword Godslayer".
  • In Transformers: ★Headmasters, Sixshot's title of ninja commander was infamously translated as "ninja consultant" in the notoriously poor Omni Productions dub. This became so well known that it even found its way into the subtitles. Another beloved mistranslation resulted in a bad guy gloating that "Fortress Maximus has come himself." (By which we mean "Fortress Maximus has arrived.") Other infamous ones include "This is UNICORN!" (a misspeaking of Unicron, whom one of Galvatron's plans vaguely resembled) and translating a Skyward Scream as something closer to a yawn. The wiki is so fond of the Omni dub that all its quotes from Headmasters are from there.
  • The mysterious "Armblast" from the English dub of Kiddy Grade was originally named "Armbrust" — German for "crossbow", which fits the Theme Naming scheme. The "correct" translation would be "Arbalest", another word for a large crossbow. Incidentally, Armbrust (and Armbruster) are perfectly legitimate German last names in real life.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: EVERY SINGLE MISSILE HIT THE TARGET!! Game, Set, and Match.
  • Code Geass: "You know full well what this badass mother can do!"
  • Excel♡Saga: One episode features Excel going to America. The original (Japanese) dialog contains poorly used English, while the (English) dialogue contains poorly used Spanish and ghetto slang. However, the original audio of people's reactions to Excel popping out of a sewer is left the same. ("JEEEEEEEE-SUS!")
    Yo yo homies! Feliz Navidad. Me llamo Excel. You're my bitches!
  • Black Lagoon: In the second season, Revy goes to Japan, where she doesn't speak the language (even though her character has been speaking it throughout both seasons) because she's American. Even though the grammar and word choice is good, her diction and pronunciation is so far off it's impossible to believe she's ever been around a native speaker. Balalaika speaks similarly throughout the story arc, but she has the excuse of being native born Russian — and while Revy's attempts to sound tough in English come across as cute, Balalaika actually manages the intended menace.
  • Quattro's "Oh dear mother of God...!" during her very priceless Oh, Crap! moment during Episode 25 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Bonus points for it being an accurate description of Nanoha in that situation.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED was a gold mine of Spell My Name with an S, both because many of the characters' names were completely fictional and had no real-world language equivalent (when official spellings for the names were revealed, some people found them so outlandish they refused to use them for a while; big offenders included Fllay and Cagalli), and because it was such a popular show it had close to a dozen different fansub groups working on it, and each of these groups used different spellings for the names. Everybody had their own favorites, though. One memorable topic that cropped up on the Animesuki forums was called "Battle of the Names", where people more or less voted on which fansub spellings they liked the best. One poster's hilarious response to spelling Le Creuset's name went as follows: "We should just call this guy "Cruise", like Tom Cruise."
  • Most Dragon Ball fans prefer the more literal transliterations of names based on their Japanese pronunciation, which work better as names than the intended meanings, which are often just English words. Examples include Frieza/Freeza, whose name was intended to be Freezer, and Shenron, who is meant to be named after the legendary Chinese dragon Shenlong (and is called this in the English manga).
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: "CANADA is greatest country."
  • There is an English sub of Fruits Basket in which the opening song contains the lines 'we cannot be born again but...', referring to wanting either to start over your life, which you cannot do, or make it better, with the friends you do have, which you can. The wording captures it better than the sub which comes along with YouTube opening clips of the same series, and it is the only translation which references being born again. So the song is a bit choppy in this version, it comes across as a lot more meaningful.
  • The Puella Magi Madoka Magica English dub has Sayaka's "You're mine, Madoka! Mine, mine, mine!" and Hitomi's "Girls can't love girls! Girls can't love girls! Girls can't love girls!", both of which are in accidental Les Yay moments between Madoka and Sayaka. The lines are a lot more unnatural-sounding and repetitive than the originals, but the scenes are supposed to be awkward and silly, so it works...maybe a little too well.
  • The "Duwang" fansub of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure draws inspiration from the infamous early scanlation of Part 4, featuring broken grammar, the lyrics to The Beatles' "Get Back" for Part 1's opening, silly names like "Joey Jojo" for Jonathan Joestar and "Jack in the Box" for Jack the Ripper, and "ABAJ" as a frequently used interjection.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 1993 Yuen Woo-ping version of Iron Monkey both played this trope straight in the VHS dub, and subverted with the 2001 theatrical release of a subtitled version which was much more serious and dramatic. The earlier dub included all the overexaggerated Hong Kong-style fighting foley effects and such gems of dialogue like:
    • "You're so ugly, no wonder you're still a virgin!" to a homely female adversary.
    • "You! You're the monk who rebelled against the religion of Shaolin and destroyed the temple by burning it!" "They deserved it! And I won. So don't preach to me, it's your dead colleagues who are sorry now!"
    • "Fight poison with poison! What a brilliant doctor!"
    • "Wonder Palm!"
  • The title of Bicycle Thieves was translated as The Bicycle Thief in some countries. Many consider this a better title than the original since it doesn't reveal the fact that there are two thieves.
  • Backstroke of the West, a Chinese "Blind Idiot" Translation of Revenge of the Sith, is an excellent example. "Do Not Want!"note  indeed.
  • Though an earlier Slovak dub of the original X-Men film was good, whoever was in charge of translating made the inexplicable decision to translate all the X-Men monikers/codenames into Slovak. Most of the results were bearable, but poor Wolverine was translated to Vlkomuž ("Wolfman") rather than Rosomák ("Wolverine"). This became fairly memetic among the Slovak comic-book and science-fiction fandom, especially given the impression that the translator probably had no idea what a wolverine is, and didn't bother to look it up in a dictionary. The whole case gets weirder when you take into account "Rosomák" sounds genuinely badass in Slovak, while "Vlkomuž" not only sounds comical, it's also a bit grammatically suspect.
  • The Chinese subtitles for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers features plenty of these. In addition to the understandable Ents being "tree man," Orcs are "bitch man," Elves are "evil," and wizards are "magic man." And none of the names translate properly. Meaning that Alarwang has to tell his girlfriend that he cannot love her because she is Evil, just before being told that "bitch man come!" by Grey Magic Man Gandofu.

  • The phrasebook The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English (also known as English As She Is Spoke) is famous for its mangled English phrases. The mangled phrase "to craunch the marmoset" is especially great.
  • Karl Marx wrote poetry when he was young. One of his poems was "The Fiddler" or "The Player". It may be dark, but it's not funny. Meanwhile someone wrote a religious tract alleging Marx was a Satanist, in which a bit from the poem was "translated":
    The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain,
    Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed.
    See this sword?
    The Prince of Darkness sold it to me.
  • An in-universe example from Discworld: there's a mountain that was named in the classic "point at it and ask the locals what it's called in your own language" method, which ultimately led to its current name of Yourfingeryoufool.
  • There's a non-fiction book (A choice of catastrophes, about ways everything can end) by Isaac Asimov that in the Spanish translation has black holes as ventanas negras (black windows).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Rude Awakening, Dave said he had to chase Christian Slater down the street. This was translated to Hebrew as "A Christian slate-layer".

  • Hot Limit, an Italo-Engrish Eurobeat cover of a J-Rock song. "Yo say! Summer love will stimulate my heart tonight. Mysterious mermaid, barefoot all alone. Wishing, revealing. It's the fruit I want to eat. Precious love is always eating UP MY HEART!" The band itself is Italian and can't speak English either, leading to it also being known by its most famous mishearing, "We Drink Ritalin".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spanish translations of early RPGs were often fan-made, and many of them were not professionals.
    • Spanish fans of Space Hulk often quote the rule "Si Fire no Move", since it was translated that way into supposed Spanish.
    • The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons translator didn't know "xbow" was short for "crossbow" and translated it as "Arco X" (Bow X)
    • In the old Star Wars RPG by GDW, "target" was translated as "tarjeta" (meaning "card"). "Locking on your card" was a dogfight move.
  • A early Dungeons & Dragons translation into German allegedly translated "torch" as "Taschenlampe". That does indeed mean "torch", as in the glowing thing powered by batteries. It also turned "box leaves" (as in, leaves from the plant Buchsbaumblätter) into "a box of leaves" ("Kiste Blätter")

  • It looks like xkcd characters found a good example.
  • In one Sluggy Freelance comic, Torg had a dream in which Zoe and Oasis were characters in a fighting game, with dialogue such as "You killed my fish!" "Why does that pickle you?" "My feet hurt... with DESTINY!"

    Web Video 
  • YouTube's closed captioning system can create good bad transcriptions, so long as you find videos that have the "CC" button on them first. And that's before the automatic translation get to mangle the mess even further!
    • On at least one occasion, this has gone back to affect a work's canon: In the second episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, one of the scenes centers around the interactions between the main characters and a distressed sea serpent. One of the lines of dialogue addressed to him, "Your fabulous manicure," was somehow transcribed as "Steven Magnet," and proved so popular that it became the serpent's Fan Nickname. This later rose to the status of Ascended Fanon in the merchandise and tie-in media, and finally into the show itself.
    • On Arglefumph's Stay Tuned for Danger walkthrough, "Let's talk to Lillian because we can." apparently gets translated to "Let's talk to William because we can."
    • Some Gag Dubs have been created based on these. For example, Lutheran Satire remade their video "St. Patrick's Bad Analogies" as "St. Patrick's Bad Closed Captioning" based on captions that rendered the original's "bad Irish accents and Trinitarian jargon" into near-Word Salad.
  • Google Translate Sings will take the text of a song (typically from a Disney movie) and applies several layers of translations via Google Translate and then translates that into English and sings it to the tune of the original song. It results in lines like "Do you want to build a Yeti?"

    Real Life 
  • Some find cheap translations from Chinese products to be entertaining. There have been bands named after them, such as Glonous Cultual. It's also a common source of material for Stuart Ashen, whose best is this.
  • Instructions for Tounge of Frog. (Always remember: never throw out the other person's head.)
  • Mahir Cagri and his lovable homepage "I Kiss You". He was like the Web 1.0 Turkish Borat, before the domain name expired.
  • The UK company Lush created a bubble bar (solid bubblebath) that was sent over to Japan, under the name Frosty Glitter. Once it had been translated to Japanese and then back, the product came back under the name Flosty Gritter. It's Good Bad Translation because the people at Lush loved it and kept the name.
  • is full of good bad translations from signs, product packaging and clothing around the world, mostly in Southeast Asia and especially in Japan.
  • According to legend, when Jacques Cartier was exploring the New World, he asked a group of Huron-Iroquois where they lived. "Kanata" is the Huron word for village or settlement, so they said they lived in their village. He assumed that "Kanata" was their name for the land, and so the land was identified on maps thereafter as Canada.
  • There is a myth that, when James Cook was exploring Australia, he came across a strange, jumping animal with huge feet and a large tail. Upon describing it to a native and asking what it was, he supposedly received the answer "Kangaroo". Assuming that was the name of the animal, he dutifully recorded it in his survey report, not knowing that it was native-speak for "I can't understand you." Unfortunately, this myth was debunked recently by a linguist researching that native language. The myth was prominently featured in the movie Arrival, including the fact that it's not true.
    • Mexico's Yucatan peninsula has a similar story, that "Yucatan" is Mayan for "I don't understand." Other sources claim it's a garbling of the Nahuatl name "Yocatlan."
  • One popular theory for why the white rhinoceros of Africa is called "white" is that Dutch settlers called the rhino "wijd", the Dutch word for "wide" in reference to the rhino's lips. English settlers are said to have gotten "wijd" confused with "white" and the name stuck.
  • "Tax haven" in French should be translated as "refuge fiscal". Instead it was translated as "paradis fiscal", which is the translation of "tax heaven". But the erroneous translation is actually just as appropriate as the correct one, if not more. The same is true in Spanish, which is "paraíso fiscal", and Swedish ("skatteparadis").
  • The English word "alligator" came from the Spanish "el lagarto" which actually translates to "the lizard". The Spanish word for alligator is caimán, which, in turn, is the English name for another type of crocodilian.


Video Example(s):


All Your Base Are Belong To Us

The infamous opening from Zero Wing, which became a meme in early 2000s due to the poor english translation that was considered to be so bad it's good.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (30 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodBadTranslation

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