Truth #1: Foreign languages sound more exotic. Buying some body lotion is not the same as buying La Creme Luxueuse, and driving a car is not the same as driving a Motorwagen.
Truth #2: Unfortunately, some people aren't even that good with foreign languages they have been taught, and now people can use babelfish to translate things into languages they do not even know in the slightest.
The result: random dialog, often awkward or incorrect note , thrown around to make a dialogue seem more exotic. It will often be heavily biased toward extremely basic words that are the most likely to be understood by monolingual readers and authors: "yes," "no," "hello," "please," "good", "sir," "ma'am," etc.
In Japan, the most common of the languages is English. In America, Spanish and French are more likely to be used. Rarely will this result in a full Bilingual Dialogue.
A Super Trope to:
- Gratuitous English
- Gratuitous French
- Gratuitous German
- Gratuitous Greek
- Gratuitous Italian
- Gratuitous Japanese
- Gratuitous Latin
- Gratuitous Russian
- Gratuitous Spanish
- Poirot Speak (the gratuitous words are always the language's "simple" and recognisable ones)
- Yiddish as a Second Language
Using this in a work is sometimes corrected in translations of that work.
See also Foreign Language Title.
Contrast Surprisingly Good Foreign Language.
- In Digimon Tamers, Terriermon's Catch-Phrase is "mou man tai", Cantonese for "no problem".
- In Macross Frontier, Ranka Lee sings "ni hao nyan" during one of her concerts. The writers were probably aiming for "ni hao" meaning "hello" in Mandarin, and "nyan'" being the Japanese onomatopoeia for a cat meowing (used like a Verbal Tic). The problem is that placing an adjective after "ni hao" in Mandarin also means "you're very [adjective]" — and "nyan" sounds like Chinese for "sissy" or "gay".
- Lamput: To keep with the episode's "martial art film" aesthetic, one of Fat Doc's lines of gibberish in "Martial Art" is accompanied by Chinese subtitles.
- In The Remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Klaatu meets with another of his species who had been living on Earth for a long time in the guise of a Chinese man, and two proceed to converse in Mandarin. While Keanu Reeves tries pretty hard, he doesn't get it quite right.
- In Lucy, the Chinese writing on the wall of a room Lucy is locked up in is the words "keep hygienic" and some random names of food.
- In the futuristic society of Firefly, the melding of societies has caused languages to become intermingled. Most prominent besides English is a "Mandarin" dialect consisting mostly of cuss words. The first episode shows signs that the writers truly intended for the characters to have a basic command of Mandarin, with one or two attempts at Bilingual Dialogue, but the actors were apparently so terrible at it that Chinese-speaking viewers had to be told what language they were supposed to be hearing. The rest of the show just uses Chinese for cussing.
- One episode of House features a Chinese girl and her mom, who can speak English almost as well as Hugh Laurie can speak Chinese.
- One episode has revolves around a Chinese family's burial ritual. In contrast to Hugh Laurie, Emily Deschanel's Chinese is at least understandable.
- A season 4 episode had some rich kids trying to sass Booth in (horrible) Chinese. Booth wasn't amused.
- A Touched by an Angel two-part episode focused on the persecution of Chinese Christians, but since most of the actors — despite being Chinese — were born or raised in the U.S., their accents were atrocious.
- In Awkward., the Alpha Bitch leader of the so-called "Asian Mafia", Becca, often taunts Ming in Chinese.
- The Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Thoroughly Modern Millie has a version of "Mammy" sung in Mandarin Chinese. Oddly enough, the spoken language of the Chinese Launderers is Cantonese. Or at least, it's supposed to be, but more often than not the actors mangle the words and pronunciation beyond recognition.
- In Deus Ex, you can visit Hong Kong. Most people you meet there speak English, though there is a monk who speaks Cantonese with no translation given.note There's also some Chinese text, but most of it is complete nonsense copy-and-pasted repeatedly.
- Fallout 3 has several messages, recordings, and holograms in awful Chinese. Since Bethesda likes to use a small pool of voice actors for large casts of NPCs, they probably weren't willing to splurge on a guy who can actually pronounce the language.
- In Persona 2, Lisa Silverman is a white girl who only knows Japanese, except for a few random Chinese phrases which she loves to use.
- In Anarchy Reigns, Feirin and Airin pepper their dialogue with Chinese words with fairly accurate pronunciation. Their sister Rinrin however doesn't do this.
- The Dragon Driftway and Palace courses in Mario Kart 8 have Latiku's name in simplified Chinese printed in some areas.
- Sleeping Dogs has a bunch of "peppering Cantonese cuss words into English" and background NPCs who speak accurate but unsubtitled Cantonese, though Mrs. Chu is the only named plot-relevant character to only speak Cantonese.
- Destiny Of An Emperor has skills written in romanized Chinese. Unless you have a guide, good luck finding out what they do.
- Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat has a little of this, usually basic words and phrases. The pre- and post-show funding thanks were ended in the Chinese for "thank you".
- Ni Hao, Kai-Lan uses Chinese much in the same way Dora the Explorer uses Spanish.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender loves its little Chinese Easter eggs — scrolls and signs in Chinese characters, even if only visible for a split second, say exactly what you'd expect them to say. Most of them also get the grammar and even the calligraphy right. But there are a few mistakes, most glaringly the use of simplified characters in an era when everyone would be using traditional characters.
- Radek Zelenka from Stargate Atlantis, who gained popularity also through his very good Czech on the show, is prone to suffering from bad automatic translations in fanfics. And thanks to his canonical propensity to swearing in Czech, fanfic writers who know no Czech can also end up having him speak in ridiculously mixed-up levels of vulgarity, dropping a fortified equivalent to an F-bomb even David Nykl himself would probably never have used on the show, right next to something along the lines of "what a dolt".
- Discworld fic The Black Sheep is set in the Discworld equivalent of Holland and uses not just Dutch, but also the related-but-different Afrikaans.
- And then, of course, there's SO Schip, which manages to combine this trope with Surprisingly Good Dutch. When the author announced a probable Japanese dub, what then followed was a bunch of Dutch words being put into katakana and then romanji. It was hilarious. (HETTO KOFUSKIPU! MEKKU-FURANDADU!) note
- One episode of Friends has a lot of Dutch in it, with Ross pretending he speaks it (and failing pretty badly). The pronunciation isn't very good, though, so Dutch people might not recognize it as Dutch at first. But it does lead to some early Bilingual Bonuses, like the scene where Gunther tells Ross, "Jij hebt seks met ezels" ("You have sex with donkeys"), and the Dutch audience gets the joke — but the English-speaking studio audience doesn't get in on it until Ross looks it up in his dictionary.
- Jacques Brel's "Marieke" has the chorus sung mostly in Flemish ("Zonder liefde, warme liefde..."), which is kind of related to (but isn't really) Dutch and is spoken in the neighboring Flanders region of Belgium.
- In Fables, the Snow Queen is called Lumi, which is Finnish for "snow". Her siblings are called Kevat, Kesa and Syksy, respectively "Spring", "Summer" and "Autumn" (albeit missing the umlauts). Why the Snow Queen isn't called Talvi ("winter") is anybody's guess.
- The Transformers comic features the Cybertronian martial art Metallikato, which is Finnish for "loss of metal (via rusting and/or deficiency)" The Finnish translation of the comic spells it "Metalicato", presumably to make it look less silly.
- At one point in The Movie version of Charlie's Angels, the Angels avoid eavesdropping by conversing in Finnish. The girls couldn't understand what they were saying, or even that it was Finnish to begin with. The translation and pronunciation were so mangled that in Finland, the conversation still had to be subtitled in Finnish (translating from the English subtitles, no less).
- In Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, during the scene where M. Bison is, ahem, negotiating with a Cosmopolitan Council of crime bosses in Bangkok, one of the bosses (identified in the credits as "European") gets angry at his demands and declares "Perkele, tämä keskustelu päättyi tähän!", which is translated as "This conversation is over." Afterwards, the whole gathering stands up and leaves, only to get murdered by Vega.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has random bits of gratuitous Finnish. For example, the name of the martial art Teräs Käsi means Steel Hand (the words should be conjoined in real Finnish). Juhani is misused as a female name. And the planet Taivas is Finnish for "sky" or "heaven".
- His Dark Materials:
- In The Golden Compass, there's a reference to the Nälkäinens, which means "the hungry ones".
- The witch Serafina Pekkala has a distinctly Finnish last name, which is justified as she is from Lake Enara, Lyra's world's counterpart of Inarijärvi in Northern Finland. Pullman took the name from a Finnish phone directory.
- Serafina names Will's daemon Kirjava, which means "multi-coloured".
- In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Father Christmas Letters, the North Polar Bear has two mischievous nephews named Paksu and Valkotukka, which means "Fat" and "White Hair" (but, unfortunately, using a word that only applies to human hair). NPB himself is revealed to be named Karhu, which is Finnish for "bear".
- In Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black, "Fontanus Uusikuu" just has the right magic feeling. The "uu" is a dead giveaway in which language to look, the meaning being "new moon".
- Norwegian sitcom Borettslaget features Finnish character Piirka, whose name which is Gratuitous Finnish in itself, because it can't fit into the language's grammatical structure ("Pirkka" would be better). His attempts to speak Norwegian amount to speaking Swedish with a bunch of Finnish words mixed in (much of which was Finnish-sounding gibberish — his actor couldn't even speak Finnish).
- Exalted has the monsters Niljake (approximately "icky/slimy thing", but could also be a family of mushrooms) and Karmeus ("horribleness").
- The third entry of Etrian Odyssey has the "Joukahainen Bow" (from The Kalevala) and the "Ukonvasara" (literally "Ukko's hammer", Ukko being the god of the sky, weather, harvest, and thunder in Finnish mythology).
- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light has Louhi, based on the witch in The Kalevala.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has a vocal theme song called "Kuule Tää Unelmain" (which translates to "Listen to This Dream of Mine") sung by Donna Burke, with lyrics in Finnish.
- The fighting game Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi features several examples, including Teräs Käsi, meaning "steel hand" and sounding suitably badass (but not technically correct — it's implied to be plural, which would make it ''Teräskädet")
- Power Rangers: Oceania takes place in Hawaii, and many characters occasionally use Hawaiian in their daily English vocabulary. Occasionally justified by terms that do not have an English equivalent.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon takes place in the "Alola" region and has several examples:
- Legendary bat Pokémon Lunala is from luna, Hawaiian for "leader" (and also Latin for "moon").
- One of Oricorio's forms, called hula-style in Japanese, is called Pa'u-style in English (from pa'u, "skirt").
- Some human characters have Hawaiian Floral Theme Naming: Professor Kukui, Hala, Hau, Kiawe (though in Japanese his name is Kaki, the Japanese persimmon), Lana (Hawaiian for "afloat"), Mao (Hawaiian cotton, renamed "Mallow" in English), and Māmane (Hawaiian for Sophora chrysophylla, renamed "Sophocles" in English).
- Lilo & Stitch, set in Hawaii, has a lot of Hawaiian words and some Hawaiian Pidgin English as well (particularly Nani and David, both of whose voice actors grew up in Hawaii). In particular, the opening uses an upbeat Hawaiian chant ("He Mele No Lilo", actually melded together from two different chants and leading to a weird translation), and "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" uses Pidgin English and surfer slang. "He Mele No Lilo" in fact can't be sung in Hawaiian without putting AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle.
- The names of several Humongous Mecha in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and a few of its innumerable sequels are in badly mangled Hebrew. Examples include the Acguy (from Haggai, a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible), Adzam (from Ashem, "guilty"), and Elmeth (from El-maeth, meaning something like "God of Death"). What's particularly odd about this is that these are all Zeon mobile suits, a faction with an infamous fondness for Putting on the Reich.
- The Ars Goetia and The Key of Solomon include random Hebrew words for their pentacles.
- Frasier character Noel supposedly speaks Hebrew but doesn't always get it right. In one instance, he translates "school" as yeshiva, which is specifically for religious schools where students study Jewish law full-time. (He was probably looking for beit-sefer). He also pronounces it the Yiddish way, which no Hebrew language teacher would recommend.
- Leonard Bernstein's Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers mostly mixes English with church Latin, but "Sanctus" is sung trilingually in Latin, English and Hebrew.
Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh Adonai ts'vaot,
M'lo chol haaretz k'vodo.
Baruch ha'ba B'shem Adonai!
- An episode of Gokujo Seitokai features a girl from India. The only word she ever says is "Namaste" ("hello"), even in inappropriate situations.
- The Simpsons episode "Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore" has plenty of Gratuitous Hindi. And in Bangalore specifically, the local language is not Hindi, but Kannada — but Bangalore being India's IT hub, they get enough migrants from elsewhere in India that you could probably hear Hindi too if you hung around long enough. Good thing, too, because the voice actors would probably have had an even harder time with Kannada, which sounds like this.
- The Dragaera novels, written by Hungarian-American Steven Brust, have a fair bit of Hungarian sprinkled in. The "Fenarian" culture which predominates among Easterners (i.e. humans) is Hungarian and uses Hungarian as its ancestral language, although written phonetically rather than in correct Hungarian spelling, which is brutal to the English-speaking eye. And sometimes it's not quite accurate, as in Vlad's one-time pseudonym "Lord Maydeer", which is supposed to approximate "Magyar" (the Hungarian word for themselves), which is more accurately pronounced "Majyar".
- In Chicago, Hunyak has a few lines in Hungarian (mostly in "Cell Block Tango"); Ekaterina Chtchelkanova generally mispronounces them in the movie version. In the script of the musical, many of the vowels in those lines carry incorrect accent marks, some of which are not found in the Hungarian language.
- Fictional Czech playwright Jára Cimrman parodied Gratuitous Hungarian in Vrada v salonním kupé ("Murder in the Salon Compartment"), with a Hungarian train steward whose dialogue features a few actual Hungarian words that make no sense in context — they're just there to sound Hungarian to the Czech audience. But in the play's first act (styled as a mock-academic conference), it's "explained" that Cimrman knew no Hungarian and had only two materials in Hungarian at hand when writing the play: the menu of the Hotel Petőfi, and the Hungarian railway timetable.
- In Halo: Reach, the colonist farmers you encounter in some levels speak Hungarian. Jorge, as a Reach native, acts as translator. Most of the planet's locations and both of its moons are named in Hungarian as well. Jorge even mutters a line in Hungarian as he watches large portions of Reach being blown up from orbit: "Megszakad a szivem..." ("This breaks my heart...").
- Though subtitled, all voiceovers in Sine Mora are in Hungarian.
- In Star Wars: Clone Wars, the Nelvaans speak Hungarian with a few Russian words thrown in.
- In The 13th Warrior, Antonio Banderas' character Ahmad Ibn Fadlan learns Norwegian by listening to men speaking (heavily accented) Norwegian around a campfire, which gradually evolves into English as he starts to learn more words. He eventually speaks up, alerting the men that he has learned their language. While they actually speak English to one another from that point onwards, they are — as far as the story is concerned — still speaking Norwegian.
- The Bones episode "Mayhem on a Cross" features a couple of Norwegian police officers, who are thankfully played by Scandinavian actors who speak the language. Brennan, on the other hand, is not so lucky, as evidenced by the Running Gag where she tries to teach her co-workers how to pronounce the word skalle ("skull"), only to be even worse than everyone she was trying to teach. Norwegians found it hilariously absurd.
- The pilot episode of Twin Peaks contains a visiting delegation of Norwegian businessmen. Their presence and behavior in the state of Washington is apparently an attempt at a joke — they're there to buy lumber and are very appreciative of the local nature and fresh air, none of which are in short supply in Norway.
- The title of The X-Files episode "Død Kalm" is in Gratuitous Norwegian. It supposedly means "Dead Calm", and død really is Norwegian for "dead" (and also a fun word to look at) — but "kalm" isn't Norwegian at all, and reads like an English speaker forgot the Norwegian word and is trying desperately to make it up (and failing hilariously). The episode itself has many more examples of Gratuitous Norwegian in dialogue, particularly this conversation between Olafsson and the ridiculously-named Trondheim, which has achieved a certain degree of infamy among Norwegian fans.
- Doctor Who at one point visits "Dårlig Ulv Stranden" in Norway, which the characters inform us that means "Bad Wolf Bay" in Norwegian. While "Dårlig" can be literally translated as "bad", it's not used in this context (it's more used for feeling sick or being of inferior quality). "Stranden" means "beach" rather than "bay". A more accurate translation might be "Slem Ulv Bukten".
- The Steven Universe episode title "Chille Tid" is Norwegian for "Chilling Time".
- In the Swedish comic book series Bamse, the main character's daughter's first words are "hakuna matata". Only one other character understood the phrase, and it became a single motto between them. And this was before The Lion King was made (and popularized the phrase), so it was intended that no one would really know what it meant.
- The Lion King used a few Swahili phrases, most notably the motto "hakuna matata" ("there are no worries") and the opening lines to "The Circle of Life" (which everyone likes to sing but nobody can remember or pronounce). Rafiki has a line to Simba in Swahili (Wewe nugu, mimi hapana, "you are a baboon and I am not"), the sequel has a song titled "Upendi" ("love"), and the Broadway musical adds the song "He Lives in You", which also has Swahili lyrics.
- In the film of The A-Team, there is a memorable scene involving Swahili — the joke being that B.A.'s not the one speaking it, but rather Murdock (who's played by South African actor and Swahili speaker Sharlto Copley).
- In George of the Jungle, Lyle's guides use Swahili, and Lyle tries to speak it, but ends up in a My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels situation.
- Madagascar 2 has a few instances of gratuitous Swahili; for example, Gloria's newly-introduced love interest is named "Moto Moto ("hot hot").
- Michael Jackson's song "Liberian Girl" opens with Swahili, as sung by a South African singer. Swahili isn't spoken in either Liberia or South Africa (or anywhere particularly close).
- Lionel Richie's song "All Night Long" features gratuitous Swahili mixed in with gibberish.
- German group Boney M.'s song "Jambo - Hakuna Matata", although mostly in English, featured some gratuitous Swahili as well (including the famous "hakuna matata", but predating The Lion King).
- In the X-Men: Evolution episode "African Storm", kiswahili is used by the Hungan, as well as by members of the tribe he leads.
- In the Trylle Trilogy, several Trylle words are actually Swedish: changeling human children are mänsklig ("human"), the village where they live is Förening ("compound" or "association"), the village where the Vittra trolls love is Ondarike ("evil empire"), and the royalty titles include Markis ("Marquis") and Marksinna ("Marchioness")..
- Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry has a very important Dwarvish dagger called Lökdal — which means "onion valley" in Swedish. That's pretty hilarious, and it's unclear if it was deliberate.
- Legend of Mana's main song, the "Song of Mana", is composed by Yoko Shimomura and sung in Swedish by Annika Ljungberg of the Rednex. Ironically, the game never made it to Sweden.
- Empire: Total War has unit responses in multiple languages. While the Swedish versions have okay pronunciation, it is also painfully clear that they are direct translations of English terms.
- In The Simpsons episode "Frinkenstein", Lisa spouts some gratuitous Swedish, which is based on a correct sentence (Tack för att ni förärat vår stad, "Thank you for honoring our city") but pronounced without the umlauts (which makes it sound more like a mangled "Thank you for honoring every city").
- The ending theme to Dragon Half is a Surreal Theme Tune with random Gratuitous English, some Gratuitous Mandarin (yi er san si, "one two three four") and some Gratuitous Korean (kamsa hamnida, "thank you").
- RahXephon features copious amounts of gratuitous Esperanto and Nahuatl, the old language of the Aztec empire.
- The Bleached Underpants remake of Fate/stay night was given the inexplicable subtitle "Réalta Nua", Irish for "(A) New Star".
- CLANNAD is based off Gratuitous Irish — they were aiming for clann, meaning "family".
- Axis Powers Hetalia, whose characters are all Nations as People, tries to give all the characters an opportunity to speak a bit of their native tongue. The results are all over the place, but the Gratuitous English is some of the least comprehensive on the show. It's probably the only anime where you'll hear a Lithuanian speak English more comprehensibly than an American (not that either is comprehensible to begin with).
- Stitch!, the anime version of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, changes locales from Hawaii to Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, and features the Okinawan language, or Uchinaaguchi.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! manages to avert this (at least in the original manga) for the most part; almost all the magic spells being in Latin or Greek, and are accurate the vast majority of the time. Unfortunately, the anime adaptation wasn't so lucky — but it made up for it with some Surprisingly Good English.
- The anime of Ah! My Goddess has Senbei, who shifts rapidly to Gratuitous French, Russian, Spanish, & Italian, as well as engaging in Brief Accent Imitation.
- Durarara!! has a conversation in Russian between the black Russian Simon and a couple of Russian tourists. It's obvious that none of the voice actors actually speak Russian.
- In Nichijou, Yukko's Catch-Phrase is "Selamat Pagi!", which means "good morning" in Malay and Indonesian.
- Golden Kamuy is set in early 20th century Hokkaido and prominently features several Ainu characters. The author even has an Ainu linguist to help him write dialogue in Ainu, so that he doesn't fall into a My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels situation.
- Shoukoku no Altair is set in an Alternate Universe Europe, and the denizens of different countries tend to use a lot of Turkish, Italian, Spanish, French, and German words, amongst others.
- Gratuitous Welsh can be found in Torchwood fanfiction (you know, because there are so many Aliens in Cardiff), despite creators and actors stating the characters probably don't know any Welsh, at least beyond simple phrases like "Croeso i Gymru".
- Stargate SG-1 fanfiction also likes to use Gratuitous Welsh, as the Volians' language (from the Series 5 episode "2001") is related to Welsh, and the Ori arc was introduced with the legend of Excalibur and a very badly mangled pronunciation of "Myrddin".
- Like the source material, expect at least some Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic to make use of this, regardless of language. Mi Tru Lov, though, is exceptional amongst Hetalia fanfics in that the gratuitous word appears only in the first-person narration and is "swésor", the Proto-Indo-European word for "sister".
- The Son of the Emperor uses both German and French mixed in with English to show that the characters are speaking a foreign language.
- Red Fire, Red Planet, being a Star Trek fic, uses a lot of alien words (particularly the Klingon tongue of thlIngan Hol), not all of which is translated.
- Legacy of ch'Rihan:
- The main fic liberally peppers the dialogue with words and phrases in Rihan, and doesn't even use the word "Romulan", preferring "Rihannsu".
- The side story "Aen'rhien Vailiuri" adds a few pieces of Farsi from Jaleh Khoroushi.
- Peace Forged in Fire has so much untranslated Rihan that one of the authors provided a glossary when people complained. It's not quite as bad as Legacy of ch'Rihan, though; most of the list consists of ranks, and you won't see whole untranslated sentences.
- Lathbora Viran, like most Dragon Age works, peppers the writing with Elvish words. The author chooses to use English for most of the internal narration, despite the viewpoint character having Elvhen as their first language.
- While the film itself is a complete and utter aversion, the script of Inglourious Basterds plays the trope straight. Most of the dialogue is written in English (with instructions regarding the actual language to be used during filming, and whether the exchange is subtitled or not) but some gratuitous phrases are left in. Example (French dialogue, subtitled):
Col Landa: Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Lapadite, but no wine. This being a dairy farm one would be safe in assuming you have milk?
Col. Landa: Then milk is what I prefer.
- In Die Another Day, a conversation takes place in what the characters say is "Icelandic", but is really German.
- Queen of Outer Space has Aliens Speaking English, but they also throw in some made-up 'Venusian' words when the gorgeous space babes are ordering our heroes about at raygun point. Which means that they're speaking to Mission Control in English, yet giving orders to their prisoners in Venusian which they wouldn't understand.
- The Dune universe is positively riddled with words seemingly inspired by or derived from Arabic and Farsi (which makes sense, as most of the future religions have some Islam in them). Even Hebrew shows up once or twice, in particular the title Kwisatz Haderach (probably from the Hebrew qfisatz ha-derekh, a magical ability ascribed to some real-world Chassidic holy men).
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has random bits from a number of languages:
- In Mark Twain's travel stories, his buddy starts to insert lots of Gratuitous Foreign Language (Fijian, various Indian languages and others) into his story, for no particular reason except that "every travel writer does it like that". Twain chastises him for doing this.
- German philosopher Oswald Spengler's non-fiction book The Decline of the West has Gratuitous Hebrew, Gratuitous Arab, Gratuitous Russian, Gratuitous Hindi (or maybe Sanskrit), Gratuitous Chinese, Gratuitous Latin, and Gratuitous Old Greek (often even with Greek letters). It's mostly used for concepts which are specific to one culture and would be misunderstood if a common but incorrect translation was used.
- Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess uses Turkish for all military terms. This makes sense, since he spent much of his youth as a "guest" (i.e. hostage) at the Ottoman court and was trained in warfare there.
- The web-novel Domina loves this trope. It starts with lots of Latin, including the title of the book itself and every chapter. Later, one of the fey slips into bad Irish when she's angry, then Lizzy speaks Japanese to Akane. A few chapters after that, Lizzy and a giant have a conversation in untranslated Icelandic, and it's mentioned (and shown) that vampires tend to swear in Romanian. Considering that the city is supposed to be where the world dumps its criminals, it makes some sense.
- The Emberverse's writer S.M. Stirling sure loves doing his research, as is proven by the incredibly gratuitous Finnish, Irish, Icelandic, and Elvish. It includes debate on whether to use the Sindarin or Quenya dialects, or the "Common Tongue" (plain old English). Astrid has a Running Gag where she deliberately speaks Elvish around non-speakers just to piss them off. Some names are even taken directly from The Lord of the Rings, like Dúnedain.
- The main character of Phantalleum - Dual Crossage is called "Bodoh Sombong", which means "foolishly arrogant" in Malay.
- Letters to His Son by British statesman Lord Chesterfield had Gratuitous Latin, Gratuitous French, Gratuitous Italian, Gratuitous German, and Gratuitous Spanish. And yes, he expected his son to learn all these languages.
- The Ender's Game sequels have plenty of Portuguese-derived terms, as Orson Scott Card tried to parallel Ender's journey with his own stint as a missionary in Brazil. A few of the conversations are rather stilted and bizarre, but the oddities are small enough that they can mostly be excused as a different dialect (or just being several centuries in the future).
- In One's Aspect to the Sun by Sherry D. Ramsey, characters frequently break into Gratuitous Esperanto, German and Spanish, often in the same sentence (or possibly future Esperanto has grown closer to German and Spanish). For example, "Thank God!" becomes "Danke Dios!" (Esperanto would be "Dankas Dion!", German "Gott sie Danke!", and Spanish "Gracias a Dios!")
- In James Clavell's Tai-Pan, Sir Henry Longstaff, the first British governor of its Hong Kong colony, wondered why the Chinese natives got even more inscrutable in his presence and why he could hear the odd hastily suppressed chuckle as he passed. Rather like Biggus Dickus, a man who wanks higher than any in Wome, a clumsy attempt had been made to translate the name "Longstaff" into Chinese — the characters chosen to sign proclamations in Chinese by the British rulers meant "Huge Erect Penis".
- In Stargate Atlantis, Zelenka will often spout unsubtitled Czech, which is nearly always a Bilingual Bonus and often breaks the fourth wall (in hilarious fashion). The team is also, by concept, international, and filming in the very multi-cultural Vancouver means that many of the extras are multilingual as well; you can hear snippets of French, Spanish, German, and others in the background.
- The title character of I Dream of Jeannie speaks Farsi upon being released from her bottle in the series' pilot.
- JAG: Mac gets to speak Farsi on several occasions. Catherine Bell speaks that language for real.
- Horrible Histories' Owain Glyndwr song has gratuitous Welsh at the end.
- Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak is of Polish ancestry, and will occasionally say something in Polish if a contestant also happens to be Polish.
- Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is multilingual, and will often read clues dealing with foreign words in as close to that language's accent as possible. He also likes to throw foreign phrases at contestants who mention fluency in another language.
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger throws in gratuitous Brazilian Portuguese for Japanese children's television.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine: the season 1 episode "Fancy Brudgom" has some Gratuitous Danish, with Peralta correctly mentioning that brudgom means "groom" and forlover means "best man" (although his pronunciation sucks).
- Hiroshi Matsumoto of Downtown Ya Arehande Gaki No Tsukai fame did a skit where he gathered people from twelve different countries, got them to talk to him in their native languages on various topics, and responded while pretending to know what they are saying.
- The Irish doom metal band Mael Mordha use gratuitous Irish (which wouldn't be gratuitous per se, except few people in Ireland can actually speak Irish). They often insert random Irish words either to create a rhyme or to evoke a folksy feel.
- The title of Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto appears to be gratuitous Greek (mylo is "mill" and xyloto is "wooden" — they may have been aiming for "sawmill").
- Sound Horizon is particularly fond of using foreign languages of all sorts in their albums, particularly after Aramary left.
- P.D.Q. Bach's "Birthday Ode to 'Big Daddy' Bach" has one part mixing not only German and English but also Spanish and Japanese:
Three times high! (High!)
Number one! (Yes!)
Three times high! (High!)
Nummer eins! (Ja!)
Three times high! (High!)
Numero uno! (Si!)
Three times high! (High!)
- The music video to Alison Gold's "Chinese Food" had subtitles that consisted of the song lyrics "translated" into random languages like Hebrew, Swedish, Japanese, and Italian.
- One of the tables in Star Trek Pinball is named "Qapla'", which is Klingon for "success". As expected, the game itself is filled with Klingon voice clips.
- In Corvette, the player must periodically enter auto races against various sexy models, some of whom will gratuitously issue a challenge in French, German, or Italian.
- Twilight: 2000 uses Gratuitous Polish, as its first scenarios are set in Poland. The result is like something out of Google translate. They also didn't include diacritics (not that they could if they wanted, because in The '80s no text editor could do that), but this occasionally changed the meaning of the word. Polish is also a highly inflected language, and the translators gave no thought to whether they were using the correct form of the word (e.g. the ship "Wisla Krolowa", aiming for "Queen of the Vistula" but meaning "Vistula the Queen").
- Rocket Age is set in an alternate 1930s, where all of the major Earthling powers are spreading out across the solar system. The game designers acknowledge that their translations can be a little off and encourage Game Masters to give their players free story points for pointing out correct translations and grammar.
- The nonsense lyrics of the fansong "Marisa Stole The Precious Thing" include Gratuitous English, Gratuitous German, Gratuitous Mandarin, and arguably Gratuitous Japanese.
- Nitori's spellcard "Kappa Pororoca" is half-Gratuitous Portuguese, since pororoca is a Brazilian Portuguese term (actually Tupi term).
- All of the Arcana in Arcana Heart have attack names in many different foreign languages. For instance, Partinias, the Arcanum of Love, uses Gratuitous Greek (roz sfaira = "pink ball/sphere").
- In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Pavel the explorer has been to all sorts of foreign lands, but the only thing he has to show for it linguistically is random gratuitous words from every country he's ever visited. Spanish, French, Japanese, and Mandarin all show up.
- Suikoden, whose world mingles elements of various real nations, will use foreign languages to name people, places, weapons, and other things. It esults in Gratuitous English, German, Russian, and any other language they thought was suitably Foreign Sounding Gibberish. The most epic examples, though, are the ending songs: the first game's is supposedly Portuguese, but it's apparently written by a Japanese man before babelfish existed and pronounced by Japanese singers, and the second game's is supposedly German (the game itself being called Suikoden Tierkreis), but the language was unidentifiable to the point that people were debating what language or dialect it was even supposed to be.
- The Viking speech files in Age of Empires II are mangled Icelandic. The builder, for instance, says "Hussasmiþur" which means house-builder, instead of just Smiður or even Húsasmiður. It makes playing the Vikings a hoot, since it's so horribly pronounced.
- Thunder Force VI makes use of two Gratuitous non-Japanese, non-English languages: the Galaxy Federation's primary language is the ancient and long-obsolete Tangut script, and the Orn Empire's primary language is Mongolian.
- The Soldier of Fortune games have Gratutious Slavic (Russians and Czech mooks say the same phrases), Gratuitous Arabic, Gratuitous African language (mooks in Uganda and Sudan sound exactly the same), Gratuitous Spanish ("grenado" when throwing a grenade, which should be "granada"), Gratuitous Chinese, etc. Much of it is Foreign Sounding Gibberish.
- The Wii version of Punch-Out!! features boxers from all over the world, and every non-English-speaking boxer (except for King Hippo) speaks in their native language.
- In [[Civilization V and VI, every leader speaks in their native tongue (within reason), from Alexander speaking Ancient Greek to Montezuma speaking Nahuatl.
- Yakuza 4 brings us Gratuitous Tagalog in a Filipino massage parlor. All of it, from the title to the dialogue, is a "Blind Idiot" Translation that makes no sense in Tagalog.
- Star Trek Online: Practically everyone in the Klingon Defense Force peppers their dialog with phrases in tlhIngan Hol — even characters for whom it makes no sense, like six of their seven playable races.
- The Dalish Elves in Dragon Age pepper their speech with random Elvish. They do this deliberately, as they've lost so much of their language and culture, this is how they try to keep it alive.
- From the Video Game/Soul series:
- Algol's move list is almost entirely in Gratuitous Arabic, with some Aramaic (e.g. "Talitha", which simply means "little girl") thrown in for good measure. Some of them aren't actual phrases but rather star names (most of which are really in Arabic), although they managed to snuck up obscure stars like Algieba, Rastaban, and Alphard, as opposed to the more popular Fomalhaut or Aldebaran. The usage is as an allusion to Algol's name (also taken from a star) and place of origin (the ancient Middle East).
- Zasalamel's move list is in Gratuitous Akkadian. Again, most of them aren't phrases but rather the names of Akkadian or Babylonian gods. Understandable, given that Zasalamel hailed from Algol's kingdom (or somewhere close to it) in roughly the same era.
- Talim's move list incorporates some Cebuano phrases, as per her place of origin (the Visayas Islands of the Philippines). Which is kind of awesome, given that the laity would have trouble distinguishing languages from different Southeast Asian countries, and this is a regional language. Her name is even Cebuano for "sharp".
- In Overwatch, some characters will spout phrases in their native languages, such as Russian for Zarya, Korean for D.Va, German for Mercy, and Japanese for Genji and Hanzo. This can also serve as a clue to who's using an Ultimate: friendly characters will shout their Pre Ass Kicking One Liner in English, while enemies will shout them in their native tongue.
- When Psy is selected in Crossy Road, the game's logo is changed to Korean.
- Invoked in Darths & Droids during the attack on the Peace Moon, when the GM tries to present the Rebels as a Multinational Team by having Rebel NPCs to speak various foreign languages... poorly. Among the languages featured were French, Spanish, Welsh, Estonian, Basque, Japanese, Kannada, German, and Finnish.
- In Everyday Heroes, one Running Gag is the nonsense phrase "Thank you, Bishop, I would like another pint of concrete," said whenever a character gets stunned. When one guy from Thailand gets thrown through a wall, he comes out with this phrase in Thai (with the help of Google Translate).
- Leif & Thorn: Ivy is a Fangirl of a lot of series from Sønheim, and will throw Sønska words into her dialogue (represented by a font change in the strip and a color change in the transcript).
- How to be a Werewolf sees occasional use of Tagalog, as the main character and her brother are both half Filipino.
- Inverted in Chaos Fighters, where the gratuitous local language (read:Malay) is used in an English work by a Malaysian. RAKSA cranked this Up to Eleven with gratuitous Kelantan and Terengganu accented Malay as early as the first chapter.
- Ilivais X has Iriana make an elaborate speech while having an orgasm, which alternates between Vietnamese, Icelandic, French, Serbian, and Creole. None of which she actually knows, and all of which were churned out with Google Translate.
- The Sidepork Pandemonium episode of Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time (which already revels in Gratuitous Swedish) show the cook karate-chopping butter in half, indicated by a Korean flag in the top right corner and subtitles in Korean.
- Pitchingace88 recites the opening line of some of his commentary videos using various foreign languages such as Indonesian and Tagalog.
- Mystery Science Theater F1's main language is English, but Matt has spoken Portuguese (his native tongue), French, German, Japanese, Finnish, Russian, Swedish, and Dutch at some point or another, often untranslated.
- Adventure Time has Lady Rainicorn, who only speaks in Korean.
- One of the Asterix animated films, Asterix in America, portrayed Native American language as made up entirely of American geographical names (which is less stupid than it sounds, when you realize that many of these names are Native words).
- The Lingo Show, being an Edutainment Show designed to teach preschoolers as many languages as it can, features Gratuitous Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Welsh, Polish, and even Gratuitous Punjabi, Urdu, and Somali.
- Kaeloo: Olaf interjects random Russian words into his speech.
- The page quote is suspected not to be from Charles V at all, but rather an invention of one of his biographers. The best evidence for this is the fact that Charles was born in Ghent (now in the Flanders region of Belgium), considered himself Dutch, and grew up speaking Dutch, which the Dutch themselves have called "not a language, but a disease of the throat." On the other hand, the distinction between German and Dutch was not as clear then as it is now, and it is very possible that he was actually insulting God (or at least the Church), women, and men: circumstances at the time would have forced him to speak the languages he mentioned (the Spanish Church was unusually powerful, custom dictated you speak to women in the "nicest" language you knew, and French was the language of diplomacy), meaning the only one to whom he could speak his native tongue was his horse.
- When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed. Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated". So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket. "When they're proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh," said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.
- Weapons of foreign origin are often referred to by their local names (even if these names simply translate into "sword" or "knife" or the like) to make them sound a lot more exotic and/or emphasize said foreign origin. It also applies for other terms related to martial arts as well, which is why people will insist on, say, "kata" rather than "form."