Follow TV Tropes


In the Original Klingon

Go To

"It vas inwented in Russia."
Ensign Pavel Chekov (on pretty much everything), Star Trek

This is the ethnic character who will, contrary to the wisdom or knowledge of all present, insist that some cultural icon, item, form of art, technology, stock quote, etc. is native to their country.

If the character is an alien, this can cross over into Beethoven Was an Alien Spy; or at least the alien will insist that they were.

This can be a subset of Cultural Posturing, but only when the character insists on this because it makes their country sound more awesome. It is always possible that they only use this trope because they believe it to be fact.

An example of Older Than They Think would not be this. This is where the character didn't do the research (if not done intentionally).

Or perhaps the story is so far removed from the present day that what's "Common Knowledge" to the audience is Shrouded in Myth, and everyone in-story assumes the Klingons Did It First. It's also possible that the Rubber-Forehead Alien or Human Alien culture does really have very human-like thoughts, and could independently have a proverb that coincidentally matches an old earth proverb. Related to Future Imperfect.

Compare Pop-Cultural Osmosis, Race Lift, Creator's Culture Carryover. Often implies that Klingons Love Shakespeare.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • According to No Fear (an early arc from Geoff Johns' Green Lantern run), languages like German and Egyptian originated outside of Earth, we in fact ripped the languages from the E.T.s and whatnot. No doubt explains why the aliens speak English in the DCU. It's fortunate for us that linguistic drift of both America and the galaxy headed in the same direction.
  • In Les Innommables, one Chinese character says Marco Polo stole the concept of pasta on his journey through China; in fact, Italy had been serving pasta for centuries before Marco Polo's journey.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:
    • Chancellor Gorkon states that Shakespeare is best appreciated in the original Klingon. Of course, thanks to the fan group The Klingon Language Institute, there now is a book of Hamlet in Klingon, as seen in the trope image. Ironically, the inflection and circumstances in the scene make it clear that Gorkon was both making a joke and signalling his enjoyment of Earth culture at a diplomatically sensitive juncture.
    • Spock claims that "Only Nixon could go to China" is an "old Vulcan proverb." He also attributes a quote from Sherlock Holmes to one of his ancestors, (it is canon, in an All There in the Manual way, that Arthur Conan Doyle is one of Spock's ancestors, on his human side).
    • Chekov claims that "If the shoe fits, wear it." is a Russian proverb in the same movie. Though the current version of the saying has a complicated origin note  none of it involves Russia
  • A notable one in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
    Khan: Ah, Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the old Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space.
  • Mr. Portokalos (Toula's father) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding insisted Greece created everything, even naming the kimono. Like every other stereotype and character quirk in that movie, that is actually Truth in Television exaggerated for comedic effect.
  • "Shakespeare in the original German" goes back at least to 1941 when it was used in Leslie Howard's "Pimpernel" Smith ("But you must at least admit that the English translation is marvellous!") It was, of course, a parody of the idea, dating back at least to WWI, that Shakespeare was racially "Aryan," even if not an actual German himself. Similar claims were made for Michelangelo and Leonardo. (No, not the turtles.note ) note 
  • In Goodbye Lenin, when his mother (who doesn't realize that the Berlin Wall has come down) sees a Coca-Cola banner on the building across the street from her apartment in East Berlin, the protagonist explains it by showing her a fake newscast claiming that, after it was proven that Coca-Cola had actually been invented in East Germany, the company agreed to build a factory there as part of an out-of-court settlement.
  • In a US government Instructional Film warning of the dangers of communism, a man takes his son to the museum after the Day of the Jackboot and is shocked to find that all the American inventions are now credited to the Russians.

  • Happens a bit in the Vorkosigan Saga, resulting from Barrayar being a lost colony for an extended period of time. Lots of Earth stories, jokes, proverbs, etc. are referred to as being traditionally Barrayaran, and this for a while applied to Shakespeare himself. They didn't actually ever think he was Barrayaran, but their efforts to keep his plays alive through oral tradition were so successful that Barrayar somehow "preserved" three plays unknown to the rest of the galaxy. There's a fan version of one of them.
  • In Pale Fire, Kinbote's commentary strongly suggests that he believes Shakespeare to be of Zemblan ancestry.
  • In Robert Zubrin's The Holy Land the Minervan (yes, alien) priestess Aurora insists throughout the entire book that Shakespeare, the writer of "Rule Britannia", and Jesus were all Minervans simply on grounds that no Earthling could have been that brilliant. Admittedly, Earth is actually the home planet of the Minervans (who evolved 20,000 years before modern man, who the Minervans call "proto-human savages"), but Minerva never gives any evidence for her claims that's better than her own racism.
  • Invoked in Starship Troopers, when a South American soldier jokes that Simón Bolívar "built the pyramids, licked the armada, and made the first trip to the moon." The main character, a Filipino, jokes back that he forgot marrying Cleopatra. They then discuss that every country has its own version of history.
  • In one of the Lord Darcy tales, Lord John Quetzal mentions how Master Sean O Lochlainn attributes everything the Anglo-French have achieved to them copying ideas from the Irish. Lord John himself, an ethnic Aztec, inverts this trope by claiming that everything his own ancestors ever accomplished was copied from the Olmecs.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party teaches that it is responsible for every major technological development of the past century. As time goes on, it takes credit for more and more of the past. (The protagonist learned in school that the Party invented the helicopter. His considerably younger girlfriend learned that it also invented the airplane. The protagonist suspects that in ten to twenty years children will learn that it also invented the steam locomotive.)
    • Similarly, every impressive building is held to either have been built by the Party after the Revolution, or — if that's too implausible — to date from the vaguely-defined "middle ages". The capitalist era is held to have produced nothing of value.
  • Played with in the Star Trek: The Original Series novel Rihannsu: The Empty Chair. Chekov claims that rollercoasters were invented in Russia. They actually were, but nobody believes him because he's overused this joke too much.
  • Also played with in Leo Rosten's The Return of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. When Gus Matsoukas states that "automobile", "airplane" and "telephone" are "all Greek", the other students protest. However, he's actually referring to the origin of the words, not the objects they refer to.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There are a number of examples from Star Trek:
    • Chekov, who insists variously that Scotch whisky, the Cheshire Cat, Cinderella, and the Garden of Eden are all Russian. According to Diane Duane's novels, he's joking, as when people don't believe his claim that the roller coaster was invented in Russia (true, for a change) he pleads that "this time" it's the truth.
    • In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Spock tells Captain Pike that the Vulcans invented first contact, to which Pike responds the Vulcans never fail to remind them of that fact.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In the episode "The House of Quark", Quark claims that "Discretion is the better part of valor" is an old Ferengi saying. To be fair, the 125th Rule of Acquisition is "You can't make a deal if you're dead." Also of note, Ferengi are quick to integrate parts of alien culture that fit well with their desire for profit. To whit, Earth's Wall Street is venerated as some kind of holy site, and certain human idioms such as "Every Man Has His Price" and "No good deed goes unpunished" are codified in the Rules of Acquisition (#98 and #285, respectively).
      • In the episode "Explorers", O'Brien claims that Romulans are particularly prone to doing this, though he doesn't give any specific examples. Considering the fact that they call themselves Romulans, and their core planets are called Romulus and Remus, not to mention the whole Romulan Senate being styled after a certain Earth-based senate from the past... Well, O'Brien was stating the obvious.
      • In the episode "Tacking into the Wind", Worf quotes, "Great men do not seek power; they have power thrust upon them." — which sounds like a reference to Twelfth Night, but is actually attributed to the Klingon mytho-historical emperor Kahless, predating the Bard by some 700 years.
  • Babylon 5:
    • G'Kar mentions that the humans have a saying, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." He then plays the trope straight by saying that they probably stole it from the Narn. Justified: it's heavily implied (and in one case, outright stated) that other alien races had been altering aspects of Narn culture to suit their plans, G'Kar has no hard evidence that it didn't originate with his people. The few humans he knows, however, do not seem to fit this philosophy, but it fits his own remarkably well (at least at first).
    • A major aversion, in the form of "Swedish meatballs". When an old friend arrives on the station, G'Kar prepares Swedish meatballs. His friend asks, in wonder, how he got this Narn delicacy all the way out here. G'Kar admits that these are a Human dish called Swedish meatballs, and not the extremely similar Narn equivalent. It appears that almost every humanoid species eventually created something similar to this dish. Apparently, the Vorlons really, really like Swedish meatballs.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Raj Koothrapali echoes this character when he maintains Sherlock Holmes is really Indian and Arthur Conan-Doyle merely copied an Indian literary character, a polymath intellectual who solved crimes for a hobby.
  • In "Inferno," the fourth episode of the first season of Coupling, Steve launches into a famous rant about, well, naked bottoms, in the course of which he ascribes the invention of the printing press to William Caxton. Caxton was the first Englishman to use a printing press and did introduce the press to England, but the printing press itself was invented by a German (Mainzer, specifically), Johannes Gutenberg. Steve, like the entire cast, is, of course, English, so it is an example of this trope. Possibly justified in this case, however, as Steve is not exactly a professional historian, and might just be misremembering something he learned years previously.
  • An aversion of a literal example. In the Frasier episode "Star Mitzvah", when Frasier is tricked into thinking his blessing to his son Freddie at his bar mitzvah is Hebrew when it's actually Klingon. One of Freddie's friends translates it for him, and adds, "It's much more beautiful in the original Klingon."
  • On Gilligan's Island, a Japanese submariner who doesn't know World War II is over subjects Gilligan to "Japanese water torture." When Gilligan points out it's actually called Chinese water torture, the sailor snaps "They copied it from Japan!"
  • One of the running gags in Sketch Show Goodness Gracious Me was a character called "Mr Everything Comes from India". Some of the things he attributed to India were...
    • The British Royal Family
      "They all live in the same family house together... Indian. All work in the family business... Indian. All have arranged marriages... Indian. They all have sons; daughters no good... Indian. Children live with their parents until they are married... Indian! Except Prince Charles. He's African... If he was Indian he'd have smaller ears!"
    • Superman
      "Come on, you've seen the film. He runs faster than a speeding train. There's only one country where you can run faster than the trains!"
    • Santa Claus
      "Think about it, yar! Big beard, huge belly, terrible suit... Indian!"
    • Picasso
      "You've seen his portraits: a nose here, an ear there. Go to Delhi and look at the beggars; they look exactly the same!"
    • Jesus
      "He is as Indian as they come. He works for His Father... Indian. Parents have children without having sex... Indian. Fed five thousand people with two loaves and five fishes... Indian picnic!"
  • In Hogan's Heroes, the group tries to help a downed Russian pilot. The pilot keeps insisting that Russia is superior (a Russian invented the telephone, the Volga is the longest river in the world, etc.). This is justified because he had been fed this sort of propaganda all his life.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The Cat insists that his race invented those little drawings that are sometimes found accompanying the text in a book. They call them pictures.
    • Red Dwarf A to Z includes a segment with two Daleks who claim that the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven's symphonies were written by Daleks.
      Dalek: What about "Mandy" by Barry Manilow? Was that one of ours?
    Other dalek: It was not.
    Dalek: I didn't think so.
  • In an episode of Sliders, Rembrandt asks Professor Maximillian Arturo if he can fish. Arturo indignantly replies "I'm English. We invented fishing." The scene where they fish shows how horrible he is at it. He ends up catching the smallest fish of the day.
  • The President attempts to invoke this in an episode of The West Wing in regards to a drink he's just discovered.
    Toby: It's called an egg cream, Mr. President. We invented it in Brooklyn.
    Bartlet: Not New England?
    Toby: There are some good things in this world not from New England, sir.
    Bartlet: Toby, don't ever let me hear you say that again.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the BattleTech universe, members of the quasi-mystical cult/organization known as ComStar are traditionally rather prone to claiming historical quotes and bits of wisdom from other sources as statements of their by now legendary founder Jerome Blake.

  • In Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, Higgins claims that English is "the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible." While it's obviously done as a joke in the context, the King James translation was indeed written in a poetic manner and was undoubtedly influential to the development of the English language.

    Video Games 
  • The old edutainment game Reading Galaxy had this as its premise. The in-universe game show that the player participates in features a panel of several aliens all claiming to have been the original author of some piece of Earth literature. It's the player's job to prove that the books were written by their human authors by stumping the phony in trivia about the book.
  • Star Trek Online has an interesting variation; the end of the Civil War arc was given a heavy metal rock song called "Steel and Flame" out-of-universe, primarily performed by Mary Chieffo. The kicker is that it's sung entirely in the original Klingon.


    Web Original 
  • There are dozens of musical tunes on YouTube attributed to Vangelis, including The Gael by Dougie MacLean (!) in which more than one respondent cites the synth-pop maestro's work as "proof of Greek greatness."
    It is Vangelis Papathanasiou's music! I noticed that you despise too much Greeks to imagine that one of them made a masterpiece like that!
How ironic that his biggest hit, the theme from Chariots of Fire, is itself misattributed to Yanni.
  • Youtuber Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad rebuts the Horrible Histories assertion that [concept X] is not British because it didn't originate in Great Britain (citing tea as a specific example): yes, the British didn't invent or discover tea nor is tea drinking culture uniquely British, but the version of tea culture that developed there is definitely specific to the British Isles.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Garfield Show involves Garfield showing a film depicting cats being responsible for the creation of, among other things, cheese, lasagna, and the Mona Lisa. Then, it's revealed that mice created all those...
    • Similarly, in a few episodes of Garfield and Friends Garfield reveals that a cat was responsible for the world's greatest discoveries like the movie camera, the airplane, and of course lasagna.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: The Soviet Union claimed that many famous inventions were really made by Russians. They went so far that some comedians started parodying this claim with their joke about the greatest inventor ever, "Lenard Vishinsky". Chekov's "made in Russia" bit in Star Trek is a direct reference to this, making it amusingly dated now.
    • Soviet claims became a subject of jokes in Poland, with some clever use of ambiguities of Polish grammar. For example, soup was said to be invented by a Russian scientist called Pomidorov, because zupa pomidorowa (tomato soup in Polish) sounds like zupa Pomidorowa (i.e. Pomidorov's soup). Other examples include a locomotive, invented by Parov (lokomotywa parowa - steam locomotive), a bomb, invented by Atomov (bomba atomowa - atom bomb) and even an ass, invented by Volov (dupa wołowa - literally "an ox's ass"; an idiom used to describe a clumsy, meek or shiftless person).
  • Allegedly some monolingual people with no contact with other cultures or languages, and who spend their whole lives reading the Bible, forget that the Bible was not originally written in their own language. There are various jokes and anecdotes about Americans suffering under this delusion (such as one story that when it was suggested that a language other than English be taught in American schools, an American supposedly responded, "If English is good enough for the Lord, it's good enough for me!") However, these are mostly, if not entirely, digs at rural Americans' supposed provincialism and ignorance, and it's doubtful whether any of the anecdotes actually occurred.
    • There are some protestants who claim that the King James Bible is the only authorized and accurate English translation of the Bible, but even they are well aware that the Bible was not originally written in English.
    • Not that America has a monopoly on such stories. A European anecdote goes that a Hungarian woman in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was on trial for teaching her kids Hungarian. The German judge snapped at her in what language did she suppose Jesus spoke, clearly expecting the answer to be "German." The woman replied that, naturally, Jesus spoke in Hungarian.
  • Especially in the 1930s, the Nazis regularly claimed that Shakespeare was Aryan and his plays were written in German.
  • Thanks to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, fans have actually put on a theatrical production of Hamlet in actual Klingon in Washington, D.C.
  • Apparently, Shakespeare wasn't the only Klingon on ancient Earth, for there has been The Klingon Christmas Carol.
  • In The Real Frank Zappa Book, Frank Zappa relates his Sicilian father's theory that everything was invented by Sicilians, up to and including The Roman Empire.
  • A "You know Jesus was _____ because..." joke has been made for pretty much any race or nationality, such as the Indian one listed above under Goodness Gracious Me. Others include black (because he liked gospel, called everyone "brother" and couldn't get a fair trial) and Puerto Rican (because his name was Jesus, his mother's name was Maria and he was utterly sure she was a virgin).
  • Muammar Ghaddafi once declared that Shakespeare (sorry, "Sheikh Zubair") was an Arab.
  • Any country in the world has overly patriotic individuals that state with pride that everything came from their country. The amount that believes so corresponds inversely to the number of people that are educated.
  • Pat Buchanan's isolationist 1992 speech at the Republican convention "probably sounded better in the original German," according to Molly Ivins. The phrase has since become a not-terribly subtle way of implying someone has fascist sympathies.
  • Many Japanese believe that "Auld Lang Syne" is an ancient Japanese folk tune with no connection to Robert Burns, Scotland, etc.
  • The colloquialism "American as apple pie" is inaccurate; apple pie is, depending on who one asks, either descended from similar British or German desserts, though there are some aspects in the construction of an American-style apple pie that is unique to the United States.note 
    • For that matter, baseball traces its lineage to any number of stick-and-ball games brought over by immigrants.
    • As an extension, the notion that borrowing elements of parent cultures and combining them into something new is itself a uniquely American trait instead of of one common to all cultures on the planet.
  • To this day, many Brazilians consider Alberto Santos-Dumont the Father of Flight. Their claims are primarily rooted in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale's own awarding of said title to Dumont, an action largely rooted in the fact that Dumont performed his first flight in France, whereas the Wright Brothers had, three years previous, performed the actual first powered, controlled flight in America. The Wright's 1908 tour across Europe however, combined with the acclaim it won them, made it impossible for the FAI to keep up its lies, although that has not convinced Brazil. Explained and debunked here.
  • In the Philippines, many inventions are thought to be made by Filipinos, and such claims are even mentioned in school textbooks. A common theme is an alleged invention's name being a derivative of the inventor's name. To explain why a certain invention is not widely credited to a Filipino in the rest of the world, the oft-cited reason is that the alleged Filipino inventor sold their invention to a foreign company due to poverty or lack of support from the Filipino government or local companies. These cases are usually meant to elicit support from the government for Filipino inventors so that they may properly benefit from their work and be credited. One famous example is that the fluorescent lamp was supposedly invented by a man named Agapito Flores, with "fluorescent" coming from his family name, "Flores", who sold the patent for the invention to a foreign company.
  • While The Sound of Music isn't generally a big thing in Austria (except in Salzburg, and even there it's only big with tourists, especially Americans), the song Edelweiss has been mistaken for an Austrian folk song. Theodore Bikel was approached by an Austrian after a performance, who told the actor that he had known the song for a long time, but only in German.
  • A survey conducted by Civic Science managed to get over half of the respondants to say that American children should not be taught Arabic numerals in school. That is to say, they believe their kids should not be taught 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0. The survey was explicitly designed "to tease out prejudice among those who didn't understand the question", taking advantage of people who assumed that the number system they use every day was a white invention.

Alternative Title(s): The Original Klingon