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Incidental Multilingual Wordplay
aka: Lucky Translation

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Translators need a lot of creativity to pull off the Woolseyisms which their job requires on a regular basis. The first thing to go in a translation is usually wordplay, followed by awkward concepts, dialects and so on.

Very, very occasionally, though, a Woolseyism isn't needed, since a Conveniently Precise Translation is already at hand.

This can often be caused by the meaning of words being extended (polysemy) in the same way in more than one language; or sometimes by metaphors that are obvious enough that many different languages have variations on the same one. But sometimes, it's just pure luck. These are the cases where the translator doesn't have to think about how to preserve the pun, just use a direct translation, and the pun preserves itself.

In the Animated Musical genre, the songs are usually translated and re-dubbed in many countries. It's impossible to translate a song completely faithfully, since the translation has to match the music beats and often a rhyme scheme as well. However, from time to time, there are versions that are surprisingly faithful, and can translate the title, or even the whole chorus almost literally. Although sometimes the translators have to do some grammar juggling in order to do it.


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  • Borden Dairy's mascot Elsie would be written in Japanese as エルシー, pronounced as "e-ru-shii". Coincidentally, her name rhymes with ushi, the Japanese word for cow.
  • The Chinese name for Coca-Cola is 可口可樂/可口可乐 (Kěkǒukělè in Mandarin); which (roughly) translates to "tasty and joy-inducing".note 
  • One reason why Kit Kats are very popular in Japan is because they are pronounced as "kitto katto", which sounds similar to "kitto katsu", meaning "you will surely win".

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the eponymous character ate some Magic Mushrooms called waraitake or "laughing mushroom," which refers to multiple species of psilocybin mushroom. Media Blasters translated it as "funny mushrooms." In English, "funny" can mean "strange," but an adult probably wouldn't describe a thing as funny in that sense, but a quality possessed by that thing. A child, on the other hand, would just describe the thing itself as funny. Kenshin was definitely a child when this happened, so in the Media Blasters dub, Hiko appears to be directly quoting Kenshin's description of the mushrooms in question.
  • Azumanga Daioh has a few cases of Lucky Translations when Tomo gives Osaka an impromptu quiz.
    • Osaka makes a pun on the word kaidan, which means either 'horror story' or 'staircase' depending on context. This pun translated easily into English, because of the double meaning of the English word 'stor(e)y'.
    • Tomo asks the riddle, "Who's always banging up cars?" The answer is "The dentist", because the Japanese word for "dentist" is phonetically the same as the word for a scrapped car (haisha). But in English, "dentist" works just as well in context. The anime could get this across through Osaka's diction; the manga didn't have this option, but also didn't have pictures to worry about, so they just replaced it with another joke.
    • Tomo asks, "If Nihongo (Japanese) is from Japan, then where did Eigo (English) come from?"; the answer is "Also Japan". The translation simply flips the terms: "If English came from England, where did Japanese come from?" ("Also England").
    • One of the riddles work exactly the same in English and Japanese: "A truck carrying pumpkins, eggplants and tomatoes approaches a sharp curve; what drops?" "The speed."
  • Kamigami no Asobi has one that goes both ways. The gods are going to put on a school play, and they decide to do Cinderella. Some of them don't know what it's about, and Hades says is must be about death, because Shinderella refers to death. Well, of course, the name Cinderella already comes from "cinders", so the subtitle says "The name Cinderella must refer to her cremated ashes". Thanks, Hades.
  • Pokémon: The Series examples:
    • The second movie, Pokémon 2000, involves a prophecy about a disaster that only The Chosen One (Ash, naturally) can stop. There's no wordplay here in the Japanese original, but the English translators couldn't resist adding some: the prophecy's English version says that "the earth shall turn to ash". Translators into other languages had to decide what to do with this — Ash is still Ash in most places, but the pun only works in English. Several translations solved the problem by outright citing the English pun (i.e. the characters notice that Ash's name is the English word for that stuff the earth shall turn to). But the Italian translators got lucky: they noticed that the prophecy could be rephrased to include the words "a scendere", pronounced "Ash endere"!
    • In Pokémon 3: Spell of the Unown, Molly Hale, wanting to see her parents again, takes some Unown tiles and uses them to spell out "Mama", "Papa" and "Me" together in a Scrabble-like fashion. She's actually spelling out her own name here—in the Japanese version her name is Me, pronounced like the English pronoun. The English dub can just pretend it was the pronoun all along.
    • In the Japanese version of Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns, Misty says during a river cruise that she's having no problem ignoring (mushi-shima~su) Bug (mushi) Pokémon around her. The English dub has an almost identical pun, where she says she won't "let Bug Pokémon bug [her]".
    • Dawn had a nickname that was based on her past and was constantly known as Dee Dee from Kenny (or in Japanese, Pikari). We learn that it was because she hugged a Plusle and Minun a bit too much and thus they did an electric attack on her and made her hair stand on end thus gaining the nickname Pikari (with 'Pika' the Japanese onomatopoeia for sparks). The dub went for Dee Dee (which can be read DD) and the nickname became Diamond Dandruff.
      • In the Italian dub, where Dawn is called Lucinda, the nickname is "Lulu" and it's short for "Luccica come la luna" ("It glows like the moon")
    • In the XY episode where Serena disguises herself as Ash, there is a scene where it appears to Serena (and the audience) that Ash is romantically confessing to her, but then it turns out he's just telling Pikachu to use Iron Tail before collapsing. The pun works in both Japanese and English because the Japanese word "ai" (love, as in "ai shiteiru") is phonetically identical to the English pronoun "I" (as in "I love you"), and "Iron Tail" was in Gratuitous English to begin with.
    • Most names were left untranslated in Brazil, except for Professor Oak. Oak in Portuguese is "carvalho", which also happens to be one of the most popular last names in Brazil, so he was promptly translated as Professor Carvalho.
  • In Lucky Star's anime adaptation, resident Otaku Konata Izumi's favourite anime is Haruhi Suzumiya, and many of the jokes are dependent on the fact that the two are voiced by the same person (Aya Hirano). The jokes were left in the English dub because luckily, the same English voice actress (Wendee Lee) also had enough range to play both Haruhi and Konata. The same goes for Minoru Shiraishi in regards to Taniguchi (Sam Riegel plays both in the dub).
  • Strawberry Marshmallow: Nobue's name sounds close enough to "no boobies" that Miu was able to spin an insult out of it.
  • School Rumble: Reading Sun Tzu, Tenma misreads a word as "to remove clothes" and "hare". The real problem was that she actually visualized this strange image of someone stepping out of a bunny costume, so it would be hard to ignore. It was translated as "to take off like a rabbit", a phrase which Sun Tzu did use.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In episode 11 of Brotherhood, there's a scene where Ed's trying to talk about a baby that's about to be born (in Japanese, umareru), but he's too flustered to spit out anything beyond "uma", the first two syllables; Winry thinks he's talking about a horse, which is also translated from "uma". In the English version, Ed instead mutters "the ba..." ("The baby's coming"); by pure luck, the first syllable of 'baby' is pronounced the same as the English word 'bay', which is a certain-colored horse, thus making the pun work in English as well.
    • Ed calls the second Greed "Greedling" because he possesses the body of a guy named Ling. However, "ling" as a suffix in English means "little" (e.g. fingerling potatoes), which works quite well in two respects. It makes sense that the second version would sort of be "little Greed", and it's completely in character for Ed to call someone else little, which makes the nickname funnier in English.
    • In the manga, though, Viz translated Ling's name as Lin, so a variation on his Junior Greed title had to be given. Ed ended up calling him "Grin" as a contraction of 'Greed' and 'Lin', which, while not as true to the original intent of the joke — i.e. a play on being a mini Greed—the joke still works in its own way.
  • The title of Bakemonogatari is a Portmanteau of the Japanese words bakemono ("ghost or monster") and monogatari ("story"):
    • In English, Ghostory or Monstory are obvious translations. One of the sequel novels, Nisemonogatari, also has this going for it ("Impostory").
    • In Russian, Bakemonogatari is wonderfully translated as Монстрассказы (Monstrasskazy).
    • The Nekomonogatari novels can be translated as Catale ("Cat Tale") in English, adding a pun while preserving the compound nature of the titles.
  • In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, "Hanage Shin Ken" (a parody of "Hokuto Shin Ken" from Fist of the North Star) literally means "True Fist of the Nose Hair". The reference to Fist of the North Star is obvious, even more so if the "True" is omitted. This is in fact doubly lucky, since 'Hokuto' is actually the name for the Big Dipper, not the North Star.
  • Sebastian's catchphrase in Black Butler is a pun on akumade, meaning "to the end," and akuma, meaning "demon". The English translation used by both the Fan Sub and Funimation's official subtitles, "one hell of a butler", just happens to convey both meanings as well. The manga uses "a devil of a butler," which is a little more on the nose, but still works.
  • One Piece:
    • At one point in the Amazon Lily, Luffy is being stared at completely naked by a group of amazons who don't know anything about men. When one of them asks what's in the 'bag' attached between his legs, Luffy replies with kintama, which is a Japanese slang term for testicles that also means "balls of gold", so of course the amazons think he's saying that he has actual balls of gold between his legs. The English translation uses 'family jewels', which fits the joke perfectly.
    • One filler villain has the "Kama-Kama Fruit", which the characters mishear as Okama (crossdresser). In the dub, the fruit's name was translated as the "Sickle-Sickle Fruit", and the characters mishear it as "Sicko".
    • Spoofing the By the Power of Grayskull! trope, Franky activates his Cyborg abilities by shouting "Hentai!" instead of the traditional Toku phrase "Henshin!" (transform). In the English dub, he shouts "Convert!" which other people mishear as "pervert".
    • Before the Straw Hats arrive at Dressrosa, Luffy mishears the name of the island and asks Law: "Have you ever been to Dressroba?". Roba means "old hag" in Japanese, so cue Robin having an Imagine Spot about an ugly, old lady dancing around in a dress. The German translation makes Luffy say: "Have you ever been to Dress Oma?". Oma means "grandmom", so the hilariousness of the imagine spot stays pretty much the same. Furthermore, it is a lucky translation that Oma still sounds enough like 'Rosa' (two syllables, the same two vowels) to make Luffy's mishearing plausible.
  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, there is a reference to the "former Taro Sekiutsu" (former because he sold his identity to Maria and now lives in a cardboard box) being classless. This works perfectly as a pun in English, since Taro is both classless in the sense of abandoning society and classless in the sense that he's not attending class in high school.
  • Fairy Tail has a couple, usually in the way of puns. One good example is Erza's spear, named 破邪の槍 (haja no yari, literally "spear of destroying evil"), which is translated as "De-Malevo-Lance". With no way to concisely render the concept of "destroying evil", they went for a play on words instead.
  • In Wolf's Rain Tsume frequently calls Toboe "chibi" (meaning "small") as a disrespectful nickname. In the dub, he uses "runt", which works even better for having a canine/lupine connotation.
  • A joke in Gintama involved characters becoming sick and turning into Will Smith. He's called "Virus Smith". In Japanese "Virus" and "Wills" are pronounced similarly, so it's a pun. This pun doesn't work with English pronunciation, so the subs decided to go with an equally fitting English pun, "Ill Smith".
  • Urusei Yatsura:
    • In episode 87, the principal makes a pun on "'nikui" (hatred) and "niku" (meat). AnimEigo's subtitles rendered it as "I've got a beef with you, seeing you hide that meat in your pocket."
    • The chapter / episode introducing Kotatsu-Neko (manga chapter 111, anime episode 51) is titled "Kaidan ni Neko ga Onnen", which literally means "There's a Cat on the Stairs", but "kaidan" written as 怪談 means "ghost story" (as mentioned above), and "onnen" written as 怨念 can mean something like "a grudge that persists after someone's death, turning them into a ghost". Viz translated it as "Two-Story Ghost Story", whereas AnimEigo didn't try to translate the puns.
  • In Yakitate!! Japan, Kuroyanagi — known for his punny reactions to really good breads — tries a sample of chicken yakisoba bread and has to be restrained from taking off his pants. The double meaning of "cock" works the same in Japanese as it does in English.
  • In GeGeGe no Kitarō, Medama-oyaji, the title character's father, an eyeball monster's name could be translated into English as "Pop Eye".
  • In Bunny Drop, there's a scene where a little boy is having a laughing fit because of a news report on TV. He thinks that the report is about trains pooping (unko), when it's actually about trains being on time (unkou). The joke still works in English, due to the multiple meanings of the word "regular" (in addition to its normal meaning of "at frequent intervals," it's also commonly used euphemistically to mean "has normal bowel movements").
  • A nice bonus in Polish translation of Get Backers is Mugenjou as "Nieskończony Zamek" which can mean "Endless/Infinite Castle" as well as "Unfinished/Incomplete Castle"
  • In Bleach, there's a scene where Yumichika refers to himself as "beautiful" and Ganju pretends to mishear it as "pathetic", or something along that line. This works well in English where Yumichika refers to himself as "pretty" and Ganju agrees by saying, "Yeah, you're quite a pity."
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, there's a character called Tokkori who once said "sono tokkori da", a pun on the phrase "sono toori da" (that's right). The fansubbers were lucky enough to make this "Exact-tokko-ly".
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Asuka in Japanese calls Kensuke, Toji, and Shinji the "trio of idiots," which was translated in English to The Three Stooges.
    • Before Operation Yashima, Rei tells Shinji "sayonara" instead of something like "matane", which implied that she thought she won't be able to talk to him again. This was easily translated into English by her saying "goodbye" instead of "see you".
  • In the original Japanese K-On!, Azusa is nicknamed "Azunyan" ("Azumeow"). In the French translation, she's instead nicknamed "Azuchat", which incorporates the word "chat" ("cat" in French) and is phonetically similar to "Azusa" (the 't' is silent).
  • An unusual written version is the title card of Kill la Kill. Mostly because of the font they use, the Katakana title, "キルラキル", bears a strong resemblance to "KIL;KIL". This is also something of an inversion, because "kiru" has several meanings (most notably "to cut" or "to wear") and "kill" is the least significant to the story. So a literal translation of the name loses a lot to English-speaking audiences.
  • The same goes for the title card for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, where "JoJo" bears a strong resemblance to its katakana version; ジョジョ.
  • Dragon Ball has the character Chi-chi, whose name is based on a childish Japanese slang term for breasts. Luckily enough, it's also a slang term for breasts in Spanish, and enough English-speakers are aware of this that the pun works well enough for English-speaking audiences as well. Jokes like "Okay, her name's Chi-chi, but where's the one with chichis?" work just fine without having to awkwardly rename the character something like 'Tits'.
    • Goku misunderstanding Chi-Chi wanting to talk about the wedding was a pun of mistaking kon-yaku ("engagement") with konyaku ("yam cake"). Needless to say, Goku thinking a "marriage" was some kind of food felt entirely in-character for him, regardless of language.
    • Goku misunderstanding marriage as a form of food is extremely easy to translate in Spanish, as the verb casar ("to marry") is very similar to the verb cazar ("to hunt") — even moreso in Latin American dialects where the two verbs are homophones, giving Goku and even better reason to not get what Chi-chi meant to say.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Sein and Wendi call Quattro "Megane-nee" or "Mega-nee" when not in her presence. There's a very easy translation in "Glasses-sis" and "Glass-sis", which is exactly the same pun.
  • In Chihayafuru, Chihaya's nickname for Nishida is nikuman (meaning a Japanese meat bun) based on his large, round shape and the fact that he was eating one of them when they re-met in high school. It would've been fine enough to retain the original, but one sub group decided to go a little further: one of the most common ingredients in nikuman is pork, and 'porky' just so happens to be a well-known nickname for fat people in English. This way, they get a nickname that reads the same as the original as well as still making sense in context.
  • Toriko has an arc that involves a temple called "Shokurin Tera". Shokurin is a pun both shoku, one of the words for "food", and shourin, the Japanese pronunciation of 'Xiaolin'. Both the official manga and anime translations (by Viz and Funimation respectively) successfully preserve the pun by translating it as the "Chow-lin Temple".
  • One-Punch Man has a part where Saitama is reading the website for the Superhero Registry with the slogan "an unregistered sentai is just a Hentai". The English preserves both the meaning and slants the rhyme a bit with "if you aren't a hero, you're just a weirdo."
  • In episode 6 of the KanColle anime, Akatsuki attempts to say the word "elegant" in Gratuitous English but ends up saying "elephant". In the Filipino dub, this is translated as elegante and elepante, with the exact meanings intact. The same joke works mostly the same in Spanish as well, being the sole difference that "elephant" is ''Elefante" in Spanish.note 
  • "Mii-kun", the name of the tiny mummy from How to Keep a Mummy, comes from the Japanese word for mummy, "miira", but the "mii" also happens to be pronounced the same as the "my" in "mummy".
  • Cells at Work!: The Cedar Allergy episode ends with B Cell and a Mast Cell fighting over whose fault the whole mess is. Mast Cell claims the B is for Baka, or Bonehead in English.
    • The same joke works in Spanish, at least in the Mexican dialect, as B could stand for "Baboso", the Mexican Spanish for "dumbass".
  • The Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro is translated from "Nekobus". However, it arguably works even better in Spanish: as the word bus is more commonly referred to as an "autobús", "Gatobús" makes for a perfect translation.
  • Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! left the name of the film research club, “Eizouken,” untranslated to make the title more easily recognizable abroad. Thus, fans can call the manga or anime “Eizouken” and immediately communicate what they were talking about to those in the know. This led to a lucky coincidence with the anime opening “Easy Breezy,” where in the original Japanese, due to subject-object-verb order, the reveal of the title approximately goes “Ei [Moving]... zou [Picture]... ken [Research]... niwa [sentence particle] followed by the full title. With the English subtitles, the first four beats are occupied by the words “Keep Your Hands Off...” so then the full title reveal puts emphasis on the missing “Eizouken,” the series’ colloquial name.
  • In The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You, the tenth girlfriend to be introduced is a Proud Beauty named Mimimi Utsukushisugi. This is a Punny Name in Japanese with her given and family names simply referring to her beauty, but to English speakers her given name sounds like "Me, me, me" which plays into how she presents herself as a vain narcissist.
  • In the original Viz translation of Fist of the North Star, the martial art style of Nanto Seiken, which was originally named after a Chinese constellation known as the Southern Ladle, became the "Fist of the Southern Cross", after a more well-known constellation in the west. It somehow works, since the emblem of the school is a cross, the cross is a recurring motif in many of their techniques and "Southern Cross" is even the name of Shin's city in the early chapters of the manga.
  • One Pop Team Epic segment has Popuko and Pipimi on a plane when they're offered the choice of beef or chicken by a flight attendant, which angers Popuko. While seemingly a non-sequitur in the Japanese version, it gains a comedic double meaning in English due to the colloquial meanings of "beef" (as in "a feud") and "chicken" (as in "a coward"). In other words, Popuko interprets the question of "beef or chicken?" as the attendant asking for a fight. A fight attendant, if you will.
  • In Episode 20 of the Death Note, L discusses the possibility of Light dying, which causes Misa to retort with the statement "I would never dream living in a world without Light." In the original Japanese, L replies with something akin to "yes, that's correct", but the English dubbed version renders the line to "yes, that would be dark", a play on the meaning of Light's name.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: When fighting Medusa, Matsuri concludes a direct confrontation is necessary. His phrase in Japanese is "makkōshōbu (真っ向勝負)", which literally means "attack the center of the forehead", a pun on how this version of Medusa is a Flying Face. This translates quite elegantly into English as "Guess we gotta fight head-to-head now."
  • In an episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, main character Suletta makes a joke where she explains she forgot about something by saying "Suletta wasureta"—wasureta means "to forget", and rhymes with her own name. As luck would have it, her name is one syllable away from rhyming with the English word "forget" already, so the translated version could just say "Suletta forgetta" and completely maintain the joke.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix is chock-full of these, which is part of the reason its translations are held in high regard and rarely prone to things getting Lost in Translation:
    • The names "Astérix" and "Obélix" are quite fortunate as the pun on "Asterisk" and "Obelisk" work in English — and most languages — as well, meaning translators don't have to change the title characters' names.
    • In the original French, Obelix's dog is named Idéfix (a pun on idée fixe, or fixed idea, because on his first appearance he doggedly followed Obelix everywhere). "Dogmatix" is a more-or-less accurate translation and a pun on "dog".
    • In one of the Hungarian translations, they kept Idéfix because "ide" means "here", as in the dog command.
    • In the Italian translation of Obelix's Catchphrase, "These Romans are crazy!", is "Sono Pazzi Questi Romani!", which is also a pun on SPQR, the Roman initialism.
    • In Asterix and the Banquet, the characters tour Gaul, picking up regional specialties. In Cambrai, they pick up peppermint sweets called "Bêtise de Cambrai", meaning "mistake" or "nonsense". Most of that section was wordplays on "bêtise". If the sweets had just been "peppermints" in English, the translators would have had to fill it with unrelated puns. Conveniently, however, they're similar to the stripy mints that are called "humbugs" in the UK, so they played on the meanings of that word instead.
    • Certain other character names translate perfectly, such as the Roman economist Saugrenus (pun on saugrenu, meaning an unbelievably absurd concept) becoming Preposterus.
    • There's a moment in Asterix and the Banquet where there's a pun that works perfectly in both French and English without changing any of the text at all. Asterix and Obelix go to a wine dealer who offers them several different kinds of champagne, using the French jargon terms (which are all used commonly in English). Asterix and Obelix don't understand any of the differences, so buy one of everything. Outside they encounter a Roman who attempts to attack them, and Asterix asks Obelix to hand him a bottle. Then, in both versions:
      Obelix: Brut?
      Asterix: Brut. [he shakes up the bottle and fires the cork at the Roman — it hits him in the chin]
      Roman: Brutes!
    • The end of Asterix and the Actress hinges on a joke about Caesar giving a golden statue of himself to an actress, which is a pun on the César Award, the French film awards — completely unknown elsewhere. The English version altered it into "a golden me!" to play off M-E-, or Emmy.
  • Flintheart Glomgold of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe.
    • Initially he got the German name "Steinerz Goldunger", but later he was renamed "Mac Moneysac", a Meaningful Name that's even understandable for kids who only know few English words.
    • Also works nicely in French where he got the name "Gripsou" (literally "money-grubber" or "miser").
    • In the same universe, Gyro Gearloose got translated to Spanish as "Giro Sintornillos". "Sin tornillos" means "missing a screw" and is used much in the same way as the English phrase "has a screw loose", getting across both the "faulty part" and Mad Scientist meanings.
  • In the Japanese translations of Superman comics, his catch-phrase of "Great Krypton!" becomes bikkuriputon (びっクリプトン) a combination of the Japanese word bikkuri (びっくり, used to express surprise or astonishment) and the Japanese transliteration of the name Krypton (クリプトン).
  • One Yoko Tsuno story has the three main characters trapped into a glass dome by giant insectoids, with Pol commenting that they now only need to add vinegar to get three pickled cucumbers. The translation has him say that if the insectoids add vinegar the heroes will find themselves in a pickle, adding a pun that was not there in the original text (the expression does not exist in French).
  • Luke Cage's catchphrase 'Sweet Christmas' tends to be translated as 'O choinka' into Polish. Chonka literally means Christmas Tree, but the phrase is the local version of Gosh Dangit To Heck.
  • The word "Jigsaw" translates "Rompecabezas" in Spanish, which literally means "Headbreaker", a fitting name for The Punisher's arch-nemesis, who is known for his disfigured face.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Peanuts strip, Snoopy tries to teach his Beagle Scouts about tree identification, and one of the scouts identifies a "six tree", which turns out to be a golf flag with the number 6 on it. The joke works even better in the Finnish translation, which makes it sound like the flag is mistaken for a spruce tree, due to the words "six" and "spruce" being homonyms in Finnish.

    Fan Works 
  • In-universe in the Better Bones AU, Hollyleaf's ancient Lake name of Holly Leaves, Wask Russ'a, gets mockingly punned on as Wurru'ss'a ("Mistake Leaves"), which can conveniently be translated to English as "Folly Leaves".
  • An in-universe example in Mass Effect: Interregnum: after seeing a Krogan teammate blow an enemy's arms off, a Salarian character makes an "unarmed combat" pun that he notes as working just as well in the common Salarian and Krogan languages as it does in English.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Francis protesting that being a ladybug doesn't make him a girl has an additional layer in Spanish, because the Spanish word for ladybug (mariquita) is also slang for a sissy or homosexual.
  • Despicable Me:
    • The scene with the cookie robots, which actually are boogie robots, is rendered very well in the Italian dubbing of the film. They have been renamed "Bisco robots", where "bisco" is short for 'biscotto' (cookie), and then revealed as Disco robots, a joke that works as well, if not better, as the original English language pun.
    • The French version of the franchise keeps the word "Minions" for Gru's Spotlight-Stealing henchmen, despite the word not meaning anything in French. However, it is pronounced exactly the same as mignons, "cute ones".
  • Zootopia:
    • In the Brazilian dub, the sloth Flash is renamed 'Flecha', meaning "arrow", retaining both the sound and the connotation of speed. Interestingly, he shares this name with Dash Parr from The Incredibles in the same dub, which makes it rather funny when the two characters have a friendship in theDisney Heroes mobile game.
    • Judy finds it distressing when a predator calls her "cute". In the Italian dub, it was translated as tenera, which can mean cute, cuddly, soft, or tender. As in tender meat. Which makes her discomfort even more justified.
    • In the French dub, the scene where Judy pulls a hustle on Nick got an hilarious upgrade: after saying that it was a "carrot" (understand like a "Carrot on a Stick", reinforced by her showing the carrot-shaped microphone), Finnick bursts out in laughter, mocking Nick for having been "carroted" which in French, means being the victim of a scam. However, the translation ruins a bit the Ironic Echo of the scene because the first time it was simply translated as a hustle, but the new joke is arguably funnier.
    • Another French one: "dumb bunny" is translated as lapin crétin, which is the French name for The Dumb Bunnies, and most notably the original name of the Raving Rabbids and adds an extra chuckle to the scene when you compare Judy to the screaming lagomorphs.
    • Mayor Lionheart refers mockingly to his assistant Bellweather as "Smellweather". In the Italian dub it was translated as "Bruttweather", a pun around "Bella" (beautiful) and "Brutta" (ugly). The same lucky translation is used in the French dub, with Bellweather becoming "Mocheweather".
  • Some examples from the European Spanish translations of the Disney Animated Canon include "Bajo el mar" ("Under the Sea") from The Little Mermaid (100% literal, and it even has the exact same amount of syllables), "Ahí fuera" ("Out There") from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (literal, although the song plays with that translation and the word "allí"), or "¿Cuándo mi vida va a comenzar?" ("When Will My Life Begin?") from Tangled (literal, although with a kinda twisted grammar construction).
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame also has Frollo make Quasimodo recite his alphabet ("Abomination, Blasphemy, Contrition..."). Since they're all religious concepts, the words originally come from Latin and so begin with the same letters in both French and English, so it works when dubbed into French (which of course would have been the language of the conversation to begin with). The only change needed was that Quasi's Verbal Backspace when he slips up on the "F" becomes "Fault, it's my Fault!", since the French word for 'Forgiveness' is pardon.
  • In the Japanese version of The Prince of Egypt the main song "Deliver Us" is translated into Japanese as "我らを救いたまえ" (warera wo sukui tamae, essentially "bestow upon us a savior"). Surprisingly, the song doesn't change much.
  • The Finnish translation of Frozen turns "Let It Go" to Taakse Jää, roughly "Left Behind". The lyrics are about the things Elsa is leaving behind her, but jää is also a homonym for "ice". The Brazilian translation of the song is also quite a faithful translation of the original. In the Spanish dub the song is translated as Sueltalo which has the same amount of syllables and even rhymes, is a valid direct translation of the word although it can also means "Let it lose" or "Lose it" depending on the context.
  • Basil The Great Mouse Detective, a Sherlock Holmes Expy, is called 'Basil Holmuis' ("hole-mouse") in Dutch. Yes, it's an actual word.
  • The name of Cruella De Vil, from 101 Dalmatians, works great in Spanish too. While originally the name would be a simple play on "Cruel Devil" for the English speakers, in Spanish, Vil means "Vile" so it works as "(Lady) Cruel of Vile".
  • In Flemish, the word for "to saw" can also be used as slang for "to whine". So in Atlantis: The Lost Empire "Less talk! More sawing!" became "Niet zagen! Zagen!" ("Don't whine! Saw!").
  • The Swedish subtitles for The Simpsons Movie translate Homer's "D'OOOOOH...ME!" as "KUUUU...POL!" It works fine since kupol means "dome", whereas kuk is a common curse meaning "dick".
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • The villain's right-hand man is a police officer with two personalities: a good cop and a bad cop called "Good Cop" or "Bad Cop" depending on which personality is active. The Swedish dub translated "Bad Cop" into dumsnut, which doubles as a terrific pun. To wit, dum means "stupid/mean" and snut means "cop", but the word dumsnut, when taken as a whole, is a somewhat folksy word for "idiot" or "dummy".
    • Italian is a language perfect for Batman-related puns. The "Let's wing it!" joke is translated as "Bat-tiamocela!", the point being that battiamocela is Italian for "let's beat it" (as in running away), but it also begins with 'Bat'.
    • The Hungarian dub changes the "Let's wing it!" gag to "Betemet!" (to bury), with Batman handily explaining to Emmet that it's a combination of their own names.
  • In the Portuguese dub of Monsters vs. Aliens, Doctor Cockroach PhD's name becomes "Professor Barata". While barata is the literal translation of "Cockroach", it's also a real Portuguese surname that happens to also be the name of a chain of academic bookstores.
  • The Lion King:
    • The Swedish dub takes advantage of the fact that Scar is pronounced exactly the same as the Swedish word skar which is past tense for skära, meaning "to cut". In the scene where Scar is first mentioned to Timon and Pumbaa, the latter asks, "Where did he cut himself?".
    • The Greek dub makes a similar pun, with Pumbaa asking "Grilled?", which is literally "On the grill?" (the word "grill" sounds like Scar in Greek).
  • In Coco someone writes the phrase "forget you" on the antagonist's grave. This is translated into Chinese as "鬼才記得你", roughly meaning "[who in] the hell is going to remember you". More literally though, it means "only spirits will remember you", a very appropriate translation as an insult aimed at the dead.
  • In Ralph Breaks the Internet, the scene of Ralph doing an unboxing of a bee swarm ends with a "OPEN SESA-BEES!" caption. The Italian dub comes out with a translation that manages to be almost literal and sound better than the original, "API-TI SESAMO!".
  • In Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, there's a part where the main character, Spirit, gets put in his place by a female horse, causing him to walk away while thinking "Mares..." in annoyance. In the Norwegian dub, this line becomes a hilarious Double Entendre as the Norwegian word for "mare" is basically the Norwegian equivalent for "bitch" (just not as obvious that children would react). The voice actor thus changed the line to "...Merr!" ("Mare").
  • In Trolls, the bad guys are a race of dour eeyores known as Bergens. Bergen is the second largest city of Norway, known for having a lot of rain. The Norwegian dub had some fun with this by calling the bergens "Bergensere", meaning People from Bergen.
  • Megamind has a scene where Megamind is pretending to torture Bernard which culminates in a Literal-Minded gag of him saying he's doing routine villain stuff, "you know the drill" and Bernard screaming "NO NOT THE DRILL!" In the French dub, since le train-train means "the routine" and both languages use the same word for trains, the joke could be translated directly with Megamind saying "le train-train" with Bernard screaming "NON PAS LE TRAIN!"
  • Chel's name from The Road to El Dorado is pronounced the same way as the Hungarian word csel, meaning "trick" or "con". So Miguel and Tulio's exchange "You're buying your own con!" "At least I'm not dating mine!" works out much better in the dub.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The title of Me, Myself & Irene has a pun on Irene and "I". Coincidentally, the Hungarian equivalent of the name Irene is "Irén" and "én" means I, so the literal translation: "Én, meg én meg az Irén" did the same thing.
  • Spaceballs:
    • 'Major Asshole' Scene, which in Italian is translated with the very similar expression 'Maggiore Stronzo' ('Major Turd'). The Italian dub also has Barf become "Rutto" ("Belch"), short for "Ruttolomeo" ("Belcholomew") instead of "Barfolomew" like in the original.
    • In the Latin American Spanish dub, Chewbacca's parody "Barf" is translated as "Basca" (that means "nausea" or "vomit"). Coincidentally, Chewbacca's name in the first Latin American Spanish dubs for Star Wars was "Masca" (which means "he/she chews"), creating an almost perfect parallel that worked even better than in the original version.
    • In the Swedish translation, Barf is translated as Kräk. Kräk usually means gag or vomit, but can also mean beast, rotter and moron in the right context.
    • Another Mel Brooks example, this time from Blazing Saddles: In Norwegian everyday speak, "mongo" is an (admitedly offensive) word for "retard" or "retarded". So to Norwegians, a simpleton character named Mongo makes sense.
  • In The Stinger of Daredevil (2003), Bullseye is recuperating on a hospital bed after a fight with Daredevil when a fly suddenly comes and annoys him, and when the fly goes to the wall, he struggles to get a surgical syringe and manages to throw it right at it. He then shouts "Bullseye". The Portuguese translators went with the closest translation to this expression, "Na mosca," which means... "In the fly".
  • In Russian, машина (mashina) means "machine," but it also means "car." A time machine is a машина времени (mashina vremeni, literally "machine of time"). This makes Doc Brown's DeLorean all the more significant to Russians.
    • Similarly, Doc Brown describing the elaborate contraption used to harness the lightning bolt as a "weather experiment" becomes a pun in Spanish and Portuguese: "time" and "weather" are the same word in these languages ("tiempo" and "tempo", respectively).
  • In G-Force, one of the main character quips about "Where's the off button on this thing?" while fighting an articifically-intelligent microwave from inside — right before said Microwwave detects them as a match for Chicken. This is much funnier in the Hebrew dub, where the English term "off" is pronounced exactly like the Hebrew word for poultry.
  • The "Surely you can't be serious" gag from Airplane! works arguably even better in Finnish as "Et kai ole tosissasi". Kai means surely or supposedly and is also a first name.
  • Alejandro Jodorowsky's movie, El Topo, is to have a sequel, "El Toro". That is, from "The Mole" to "The Bull".
  • Consider this exchange from Labyrinth:
    Sarah: What a horrible place this is! It's not fair!
    Guard 1: That's right! It's not fair! [all the guards laugh derisively]
In Italian, "giusto" can mean both "factually correct" and "just, fair", just like the English word "right". That's right! It's not fair! therefore becomes the antanaclasis "È giusto, non è giusto!" (it's right, it's not right) which adds extra meaning since then the guards seem to be laughing at the pun rather than just at her misfortune.
  • In Mean Girls, Karen goes to the Halloween party dressed as a sexy mouse. In the Italian version, when asked what she is dressed as, she answers "Sono una topa", "topa" meaning "female mouse", but also a slang word for female genitalia and a rude compliment to a pretty girl.
  • The title of the movie Species was translated into Hebrew as "Min Mesukan", literally "Dangerous Species". However, "min" also means "sex" (both "gender" and "intercourse"), making the translation mean "Dangerous Sex", which could also serve as an appropriate title for the film.
  • Lincoln has one that works perfectly in French for the whole "Washington and the English" joke. In French "faire chier" means bugging someone to the point of pissing them off, but taken literally reads "make (him/her/it) take a shit", which gets the point of placing the presidential portrait in the privy across that much better.
  • The "Argo fuck yourself" line in Argo is translated as "Argoderse" in the Spanish dub, which is as phonetically close to "a joderse", the Spanish version of "go fuck yourself", and a less contrived pun than the original at that!
  • Similarly, the part in Man on Fire where Pita asks Creasy the name of his last girlfriend and he answers "Notyou"note  was translated in Spanish as "Queti" (pronounced Katy).note 
  • In Miss Congeniality, Gracie teaches the audience a self-defense mnemonic, SING, for the pressure points solar plexus, instep, nose, and groin. When the movie was translated into Spanish, the line becomes "¡Plexo solar! !Empeine! ¡Nariz! ¡Entrepierna!", foreshadowing the Groin Attack that comes at the end.
  • Noah: Og's "Goodbye, son of Adam" acquired a even more meaningful tone in the Latin tongues (French, Spanish and Portuguese) dubs and subs. In those tongues, "Goodbye" is "Adieu/Adios/Adeus", which etymologically means "(Deliver) To God". Because of this, in those dubs Og's farewell accidentally becomes a much more striking statement, particularly considering the angels ascend to heaven (and thus deliver themselves to God) minutes after saying that line.
  • Bulletproof Monk relies on "crane"'s double meaning for its Prophecy Twist; the same double-meaning is present in French.
  • When Schindler's List was released in Sweden the only change in the title was that the apostrophe was removed, since Swedish doesn't use apostrophes to mark the genitive case. "List" in Swedish could mean "cunning" (noun) or "cleverness", or something like "ruse" or "stratagem", all of which are highly descriptive of Schindler's activities and personality.
  • The Danish subtitles of The Inbetweeners Movie translates "steak" in Jay's line of "why go for hamburgers, when you can have a steak?" (why go for plain-looking women when you can score with a hot woman?) into "steg" which basically means the same ("steg" is more often used for roast meat, though), but is also a very well-known slang term for a sexy woman, thus creating a funny pun.
  • The Latin American subtitles for Train of Life features a scene in which one Jewish character is trying to eat meat given by Nazi officers. He asks himself in a low voice if the meat is "kosher", raising suspicions by the Nazi officers. He rectifies by asking in a loud voice if the beef is "de cocer" ("for boiling"), an accurate homophone for "kosher" in Spanish that serves to mask his little mistake.
  • In the Spanish dub of Life, the inmate known as Biscuit is renamed "Bizcocho" (sponge cake), in order to better fit the lip movement (the literal translation would be "Galleta"). Sponge cake, being a very fancy bakery product, also suits Biscuit's personality well. The term "Bizcocho" is also used as a pet-name between lovers, similar to "Cupcake" or "Sweetheart", and in Spanish, just as in English, can be used ironically to mock an un-manly man.
  • In Spain, Star Wars was translated as La Guerra de las Galaxias ("The War of the Galaxies") (However, many people simply refer to it by the original name). When it came the time to dub Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the in-universe spoof Star Whores was translated as La Guarra de las Galaxias ("The Slut of the Galaxies").
  • When the later Godzilla movies started playing up Godzilla as a god of destruction, no translation was needed for the English versions, since "God" is already in his name.
  • While the "One Pac, two Pac, three Pac, four" line from 8 Mile didn't translate directly into Polish, one of the translations made a new pun based around the words "Tu Pac" meaning "Here's Pac" in Polish. As a result, the line became "Tu Pac, tam Pac, same Tupaki do cholery" ("Here's Pac, there's Pac, just goddamn Tupacs").
  • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, the "Penis Parker" derogatory nickname that Flash gives Peter is translated in French as Flash simply pronouncing "Peter" as "Pay-ter", which sounds like the word "pêteur" ("farter").
  • John Rambo's surname happens to sound very similar to the Japanese word "ranbō" (乱暴), meaning a tough or violent person, which makes perfect sense from a Japanese audience's perspective.
  • The Hungarian translation of Star Trek: Nemesis turned the prototype android B-4 "Before" into L-5, spelled out as "Előd" which means "Forebearer" and is also conveniently an old Hungarian given name.

  • A French poem in House of Leaves gains a completely different rhyme scheme when translated into English. (One is ABAB and the other is AABB.)
  • This Latin poem. It's almost as if Catullus knew of The Queen's Latin.
  • Non-language example: In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams makes a joke about the movement of 'small green pieces of paper', meaning the British pound note. The joke made perfect sense to Americans, on account of the color of their money. Now the joke only works for Americans, because Britain doesn't use pound notes any morenote  and the other notes aren't green.
  • Another non-language example happened in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. When Harry first learns of Wizarding sweets, one of his first thoughts is how he can buy as many Mars Bars as he wants. At the time Americans had a candy bar named "Mars", it was just different than everybody else (nougat and toasted almonds instead of caramel, though later versions did add caramel to the recipe).
    • It also happened in reverse with Maniac Magee. "Mars Bar Thompson" is nicknamed for his favourite food. Maniac Magee is clearly set in the U.S, but editions printed outside the US kept it in.
  • The Japanese translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has its own example. The Japanese word for "desire" becomes "of the ditch" when spelled backwards, so the Mirror of Erised gains a name that alludes to its ability to "trap" people in obsession. What's more, while it's certainly important in the Western Judeo-Christian cultural milieu Rowling writes in, "desire is a trap" is the central theme of Buddhism, adding an extra layer of meaning to the Japanese audience.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Significant Anagram (Tom Marvolo Riddle -> I Am Lord Voldemort) was a breeze to translate in Polish because of an old Polish word "jam", meaning "ja jestem" ("I am"); I and J being close enough for government work in Polish.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the incantation "Crucio" (Latin for "I torture") is transliterated in Japanese as "Kurushio". It just happens to also sound similar to "kurushi", meaning "suffering".
  • Discworld:
    • One of the dwarfs in The Truth is named Goodmountain, a literal translation of the German surname of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable types in Europe. In the German translation, said dwarf's name is Gutenhügel ("good hill"). This not only solves the problem of salvaging the name's subtle reference, but also adds an additional layer of humor by alluding to the name bearer's height.
    • In Dutch, 'seamstress' is translated as 'naaister'. 'naaien' does not only mean 'sewing', but 'fucking' as well.
    • The Luggage is said to be made (originally) from "Sapient Pearwood". In the Hebrew version of the books, the Luggage is said to be made from "עץ הדעת" ("Etz Ha'Da'at"), which means "Tree of Sentience/Knowing/Knowledge". Yes, that Tree of Knowledge. Makes the Luggage all that much more awesome.
    • In Hogfather, there's a Running Gag about Mr. Teatime insisting his name be pronounced 'Té-AH-ti-mé'. The French version translated his surname as 'Lheurduthé' (l'heure du thé, teatime), which allowed him to insist it be pronounced 'Le Redouté' ('The Dreaded').
    • In Witches Abroad, we briefly learn about a character whose touch turns anything to gold. Or at least it would have, but things went wrong and instead his touch turns everything to Glod, an irritable dwarf. Later, in Soul Music, Glod's son Glod Glodsson appears, and his name leads to a "mission from Glod" pun. Since "gold" is "guld" in Swedish and "God" is "Gud," this pun was translated perfectly.
    • The Polish translation of Feet of Clay lucked out so much. The Polish equivalent of "copper" is "glina", which literally means "clay", but also happens to mean "cop". The book involves all kinds of jokes about clay people.
  • The Hebrew version of Animal Farm is considered by some actually a bit better than the original for a single reason: the word "שווה" ("Sha-ve") in Hebrew means both "equal" and "worthy/deserving". This gives the animals' motto an entirely new pun-tastic layer: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal/deserve more than others."
  • In Scots, the word "heehaw", as well as being onomatopoeia for a donkey's bray, is also a slang term for "nothing". So in James Robertson's Scots translation of Winnie the Pooh, the line "Eeyore still said nothing at all" becomes "Heehaw wis still sayin heehaw".
  • Lewis Carroll, not wanting to ridicule clergy, did not feature Bishops in Through the Looking Glass. However, it still featured two Messengers of the White King — and in some languages (German, Polish) chess bishops are called runners or messengers. In French they're called fou — fools, which triples the lucky translation, as the messengers are Expies of the March Hare and the Mad Hatter. (Although given Lewis Carroll was well educated and likely knew French as was considered classy at the time this might have been his subtle way around the issue.)
  • In Xanth, pineapples are highly explosive. But if you change it to pomegranate the pun still works in many other languages. In others, pineapple grenades are called lemons.
  • The name "Once-ler" from The Lorax is translated as "Einstler" in the German version, which, apart from being an equivalent, is also reminiscent of "Einsiedler" ("hermit"), which is what the Once-ler became.
  • In an early Adrian Mole book, Adrian gets a letter from Norway, written in Norwegian. Adrian copies its full text into his diary, and right afterwards he complains that he can't understand a word of it. In the Swedish translation, the Norwegian text remains the same, but to any Swedish reader the text would be fairly easy to understand since Swedish and Norwegian are incredibly similar languages. Luckily, this just makes it even more hilarious for Swedish readers when Adrian complains about not comprehending a single word of a letter that the readers understood perfectly fine.
  • In one of the Land of Oz books, a character tells a bad joke and considers himself extremely funny. The joke only barely works in Swedish as well — and since the readers are supposed to find the joke bad, this isn't a problem.
  • In Fredric Brown's story Man of Distinction, one of the running gags is that aliens come to Earth from a planet named "Dar", which is apparently pronounced same as "there", leading to a lot of Who's on First? when they speak to The Alcoholic they capture. At least one Russian translation keeps the planet's name, but instead runs on the gag of "Dar" (pronounced as spelled) sounding like "gift" or "for free".
  • In-Universe example: J. R. R. Tolkien's notes on translating the Red Book from Westron mentions a few fun coincidences, which are of course due to him knowing the results he wanted when he was creating the language. For example the Brandywine river being both a transliteration of the Sindarin name "Baranduin" (golden-brown) and a reference to the Hobbit nickname "Bralda-hîm" (heady ale).
  • The English version of one book of Redwall went with the Old English "Marlfox" for the titular characters, who are foxes with shadowy patches all over their body that give them excellent camouflage. The French translation calls them "Les Ombrenards", a portmantitle of ombre (shadow) and renard (fox).
  • In The Demonata there is a character named Billy who thinks his name is too ordinary and instead calls himself 'Bill-E', which sounds even closer to Mandarin for "Thunderbolt" (霹靂/霹雳, Pīlì) and is what the Chinese translation went with.
  • The Spanish translation for Lord of the Rings has many very well translated names, but few are as happy as the name of Treebeard: where in English the name is just a juxtaposition of Tree + Beard, in Spanish the corresponding translations share three letters, which gives us the euphonic Bárbol (from barba + árbol).
  • In Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the famous password to the forty thieves' cave hideout coincidentally sounds like a pun in English: "Open sesame!" sounds remarkably like "Open, says me!" Many English-language adaptations of the tale have made use of this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In an episode, Sheldon and Leonard play Pictionary against Penny and Amy. One of the words is "polish" (as in nail polish), but Sheldon misinterprets it as "Polish" (as in the nationality), and begins to draw lots of Polish things, confusing Leonard. Penny then draws a simple image of nail polish and Amy gets it immediately. This is one of those jokes that is especially hard to translate because it still has to conform to the images onscreen. Fortunately in Spanish "Polish" and "polish" are polaca and laca (de uñas), respectively, and Penny's clarification to Sheldon ("It's polish. Small p.") becomes "Es laca, sin po." ("it's laca, without po."). A previous round was based on a similar confusion between "present" (the current time) and "present" (a gift), a dual meaning which also exists in Romance languages (though it's more common to just use those languages' respective words for "gift").
    • When other characters refer to Sheldon and Amy as their in-universe Portmanteau Couple Name "Shamy", it's even funnier in the Italian dub. "Shamy" sounds like the Italian word "scemi", which means "idiots" ("scemi" is the plural form of "scemo", meaning "dumbass"). It works because both Sheldon and Amy dislike it, and it also works both as an Ironic Name (Sheldon and Amy actually have genius intelligence) and a Meaningful Name at the same time (Sheldon and Amy are Ditzy Geniuses who are considered weird by the others).
  • In a Drake & Josh episode, Drake and Josh make a bet. If Drake eats junk food or if Josh plays video games, one of them will lose. Megan makes a contract to regulate this and there is specified that the loser will dye his hair pink. The joke is that dye and die are homophones, but the Mexican dub did a clever translation by using the word "mata", which depending on the context can mean "hair" or "kills".
  • The name of the Mexican telenovela Amigos X ("Por") Siempre can easily be translated as "Friends 4 Ever". In multiplying in Spanish, "por" is used as the equivalent to "times" (e.g., "two times two equals four" in English would be "dos por dos son cuatro" in Spanish).
  • In the Halloween Episode of iCarly. The main characters are terrified by what sounds like an old woman yelling die while she actually says dye. The Dutch translation uses "verf", which means paint, which doesn't sound too different from "sterf", the Dutch word for die.
  • An episode of Rizzoli & Isles gets in the Italian dub an example that manages to double as an accidental case of Actor Allusion: One episode begins with the two main characters comparing the case they're working on to a Scooby-Doo episode, discussing about which one of them is Daphne and who is Velma. At the end, Jane ends up to be Velma. All of this is funnier in the Italian dub because Jane is voiced by Rachele Paolelli, who coincidentially is also the voice of Velma in every media since 2001. As an extra, a scene later on where in the original version Jane briefly does a Shaggy impression saying "Zoinks!" is replaced with her saying "Jinkies!" in Velma's actual voice.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Astronaut", a character asks where the Doctor is, prompting the usual "Doctor Who?" question. The French dub turns this into "Un Docteur ? Où ?" ("A Doctor? Where?"), which sounds very close to "Doctor Who", thus keeping the joke intactnote .
  • In an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, a character whose arms had been cut eventually jokes about their condition and says "I'm stumped". The French dub uses an expression with a very close meaning "les bras m'en tombent", which literally means "my arms fall off".
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ended up being a Frankenslation of three different Super Sentai shows. Through a lot of effort and Troubled Production headaches, a few things did manage to turn out in their favor.
    • Zyuranger was a dinosaur themed show while Dairanger had mythological beasts with different color combinations. Rather than a black ranger Dairanger had a green ranger, but the green ranger's zord happened to be predominantly black with only a few green highlights, making it passable as a black ranger zord. The Dairanger rangers zords also had a similar megazord combination method with a red center, black arms, yellow and blue legs and a flying pink zord as accessory armor, which made the story of them being upgraded forms of the Zyuranger zords plausible.
      • The Sixth Ranger was white and not green, but the green Zyuranger was killed off, which Power Rangers interpreted as his powers becoming unstable in order to justify his absence in fight footage. When the time came it was not hard to say the green ranger powers finally gave out and they made a new white ranger to take its place. Likewise, the sixth ranger Tigerzord was able to provide a secondary megazord combination much like the Zyuranger Dragonzord.
    • Kakuranger did not have a pink ranger or a Sixth Ranger, but the white female ranger had a white colored flying zord with pink highlights. There was also an autonomous falcon mech that was repurposed as being the white sixth rangers zord. And while their base zords were a departure from the animal themed zords of the previous two shows (looking more like humanoid pagoda temples), they had Mid-Season Upgrade zords that WERE animal themed, and MMPR introduced those first to ease the transition.
  • In Lab Rats, at the start of the episode "Smart and Smarter", when Chase laments getting an A- on Home Economics, Adam brags about getting a D+ "because [he's] better". The Brazilian Portuguese dub cleverly changes this to Adam bragging about being "demais", which is both a Brazilian slang word meaning something along the lines of "awesome" and the literal pronunciation of D+ in Portuguese.
    • Another noteworthy example can be seen in "Dude, Where's My Lab?". Adam at one point calls his siblings "beach bums". In the Brazilian Portuguese dub, he uses the local equivalent to said term, "ratos de praia" ("beach rats"). Given the show's title, the translation arguably works better than the original.
  • Another Portuguese case is Cobra Kai. In the fourth season finale, Daniel Larusso tries to call his Enemy Mine situation of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang and all he can pull is "Miyagi... Fang". Given eagle in Portuguese is "águia", there was instead an easy portmanteau, "Miyáguia".
  • When the game show Press Your Luck first made its way to Germany in 1992, it was called "Glück am Drücker", meaning "Luck at the Button". The revival in 1999, on the other hand, used the title "Drück Dein Glück", which is pretty much being a literal translation of the English title that even gained a nice little rhyme along the way.

  • The Japanese Pronoun wareware means "we", but can also be used as an excessively formal way of saying "I". This is similar to the English-language Royal "We". (See The King of All Cosmos from Katamari Damacy for a well-Woolseyed version.)
    • If an alien in Ultraman says this, you know he wants to rule the world.
  • The Japanese 'Gai' is pronounced exactly the same as the common western name 'Guy'. As long as we're talking about the English name 'Guy' and not the French variant, which is pronounced like "gee" (with a hard "g", as in 'go' or 'guilt'.)
  • Yume (Japanese) and 'dream' (English) have the same dual meaning of those hallucinations you see when sleeping and aspirations for the future. This comes up more often than you'd think.
    • Which is the same case with sonho (Portuguese), sueño (Spanish), sogno (Italian), rêve (French), Traum (German), and so on.
  • In Japanese okashi means funny, in the sense of both "strange" and "amusing". While that's not entirely coincidental (since the meanings are linked), there is no exactly corresponding word in many European languages, which use separate terms for the different meanings.
  • The English term 'trump card' and the Japanese term kirifuda both literally mean a playing card ranked higher than normal, and figuratively a secret weapon or something used to obtain an advantage.
  • Another example (see below in the Real Life section) of a lucky mistranslation: Robin Hood becomes Robin of the Woods (Robin des Bois) in French. It still works, since Robin lives in Sherwood Forest.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Works in Western nations and also sinoxenic (i.e. China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam). M.D.s are the doctors, but so are other highly educated people.
  • In Japanese poetry, it's common to use the pine tree (matsu) as a symbol of longing, because matsu also means "to wait". It's easy to remember, because English has an almost identical double-meaning for the word "pine".
  • Owls Ask "Who?" jokes are translated well as "Owls Ask Where?" jokes in French—the French equivalent is "où?", which sounds the same but means "where?". Likewise, Dutch has "Owls Ask How?", with "hoe?" sounding the same but meaning "how?".
  • The German Christmas song "O Tannenbaum", which describes a fir tree, was translated into English as "Oh, Christmas Tree" — keeping the same idea while allowing the melody and lyrical rhythm to remain exactly the same.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In the Welsh myth cycle Mabinogion, one rhyme relies on the fact that "blawd" can mean either "flour" or "to blossom". Luckily, the pun works just as well in English, since "flour" and "flower" are homophones.
  • The Bible:
    • The English words man and woman just happen to be very similar (as in the original Hebrew), making Adam's line on the Creation of Eve — calling her Woman because she comes from Man — make sense. Most other languages face the dilemma of either translating it directly even though the result seemingly makes no sense, or using a made-up word just to preserve the pun. For example, the Luther Bible (the most prestigious German translation) uses the invented word "Männin" for woman (equivalent to "Man-ess"), while some others explain the original wordplay in a footnote.
    • Samson slaughters a thousand men with a donkey's jawbone, and follows it with a Bond One-Liner playing on how the Hebrew word for "donkey" sounds like the one for "heap". Some English translators try to maintain the wordplay by using "ass" for "donkey" and "mass" for "heap". Others willing to take minor liberties with the source can just have Samson call his victims "asses", as it's a common if crude insult in English.
    • Later, David muses that he wants to build a house (bet in the original Hebrew), that is, a structure or temple, for God. God counter-offers by promising to build a house (also bet), that is, a dynasty, for David. The pun, fortunately, works in many languages, as the "house=temple" and "house=family/dynasty" metonymy is fairly widespread.
    • Jesus took one of his disciples, Simon, and gave him the name Petros, Greek for "stone" (which was later adapted to English as "Peter"); and would occasionally pun on it such as "I name you Petros (Peter), and on this petros (rock) I will build My church". Some modern languages have names with the same meaning that are able to keep the puns, such as "Pierre" in French.
    • Jesus' famous pronouncement that he is "the way, the truth and the life" gains some Added Alliterative Appeal in Latin, since due to the preponderance of nouns beginning with v it becomes via, veritas, vita. The original Greek phrase is not alliterative (nor would the original original Aramaic have been).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer has the Imperial Steam Tank — a steam-powered battle tank created by the engineers of the Empire — a nation based heavily on Renaissance Germany and with no small nod to the stereotypical Prussian militarism of the early 20th century. In German it is called, as one might expect, ein Dampfpanzer ("steam tank"), which also serves as a very Warhammer-ish pun on the classic Kampfpanzer ("battle tank").
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • A card called Lightmine Field picked up a translated pun that wasn't present in the English version. In Italian, it's called "Campo Illu-minato," Campo meaning field, Illuminato meaning illuminated/lit, and minato meaning "mined," i.e. rigged with explosives. This could've easily worked in the English version, too, as the rather tone-appropriate "Illu-mine(d) Field", but unfortunately they didn't think of that.
    • The Italian flavor text of Carnival Hellsteed would work even better than the original one because, in the Italian one, the creature's favorite sweets are "dita di dama" (which means "ladyfingers" but also "lady's finger").
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a few instances of this, but one of the bigger ones is Frog Three-Death, whose name in Japanese punned on it sounding like "frog-san desu", meaning more or less "I'm Mr. Frog." As it turned out, the English game had been translating "death" as "des" for some years, so they could get away with "D.3.S. Frog."
  • The pun in the title of Tails of Equestria doesn't translate to Polish, but it just happened to have an idiom that involves both horses and fantasizing — puścić wodze fantazji, meaning "let go of the reins of fantasy" literally, and "begin to daydream/fantasize/etc." idiomatically. It was used as The Foreign Subtitle in the Polish release, as Equestria: Puść Wodze Fantazji.

  • In The Birds, Peisthetaerus speaks of bird versions of the Greek gods, including Rhea.
  • Works in the title of The Importance of Being Earnest for several European languages, as the word cognate to or that translates as "earnest" is often used as a proper name.
  • Lysistrata, a Greek play about women who go on a sex strike, is full of double-entendres for those who are able to understand the original Greek meanings, but one pun in particular was a gift to translators. When the women are getting together, one of the characters comments that the Spartan woman isn't there yet, because Spartan women always arrive after everyone else. A translator who's not worried about sounding classy can make the pun in English that was made in the Greek: Spartan women come last.

  • The word "LEGO" is a play on the Danish phrase "leg godt" which means "play well"; but "lego" is also Latin for "I build". This was not something its founder was aware of and thus entirely coincidental, but it is very much embraced by the company.

    Video Games 
  • The hero of the game Gitaroo Man is called U-1, pronounced "Yuichi", which is a common Japanese boys' name. When it was dubbed into English, he became U-1 pronounced "Ewan", which is both a common English name and sounds like "you won", a compliment to the player.
  • In the Polish, Russian and some other versions of Warcraft, Grom Hellscream gets a Meaningful Namegrom in those languages is either "thunder" or "bolt" (as in "bolt out of the blue").
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario and his Palette Swap twin brother were both named by Nintendo of America, They named the twin brother Luigi, an equally common Italian name. In Japanese, this is rendered as ルイージ (ruiji), a Japanese word that means "similar", or "to resemble", leading to some serendipitous wordplay.
    • The name of Mario's Evil Twin, "Wario," is originally a portmanteau of the Japanese word "warui" (bad) and Mario. Thanks to the negative connotations of the word "war", and the fact that "W" looks like an inverted "M", Mario fans the world over are treated to a wordplay that translates exceptionally well. On top of that, the Polish language has "wariować" which means "to go insane" and "wariat" for a crazy person. It's like the lottery grand prize of lucky translations.
    • Luigi's rival, "Waluigi", still works but a little less well, since anywhere else, it hinges on the fact that there's already an established Evil Twin whose name starts with "Wa". Seems that Luigi doesn't even get his own nemesis without Mario overshadowing him. In Japanese, it's a pun on "warui", which is either "bad" (as aforementioned) or an informal, somewhat condescending way of apologizing. "Waluigi" (or rather the more literal "waruiji") is also an anagram for "ijiwaru", which more or less translates as "mean", which Waluigi (and Wario for that matter) are.
    • There's also Paper Mario: Sticker Star, which is called Paper Mario: Super Seal in Japanese (Japanese uses the English loanword "seal" to refer to what a native English speaker would generally call a sticker). The Japanese word for "seal" is shiru, and the sticker fairy character's name there is "Rushi" (essentially a transliteration of "Lucy"), made by switching the syllables of "shiru". Switch the syllables of "sticker" (roughly) and we get her English name: Kersti (which happens to look and sound similar to another real-life name, Kirstie).
  • Amazingly, the wordplay in Catlateral Damage works even better in Japanese, "Nekolateral Damage".
  • The song "Kiramekirari" from The Idolmaster contains a Japanese tongue twister: "Tokyo tokka kyoka kyoku kyoka kyokucho". Miraculously for fandubbers that want to sing a Translated Cover Version, said tongue twister fits into the exact same rhythm as the popular English tongue twister "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers".
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The word "Link," the name of the protagonist, means "left" in German (fitting with him typically being left-handed) and "risky/dangerous" in Dutch (fitting with him getting into all sorts of dangerous situations on his quests to save Hyrule).
    • The classic recurring enemy Moblin is named after the Japanese word for "forest," "mori," and the word "goblin." In English, it forms an equally good pun on "goblin" and "mob," fitting with the large groups they're often found in.
    • In the first game, a Goriya is found in the seventh labyrinth blocking a passage. In Japanese, the onomatopoeia used shows that the Goriya is just muttering to himself, which was infamously localized as "GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE..." The luck comes in from the fact that you remove him by giving him the Enemy Bait; when someone is hungry, we often say that their stomach is grumbling.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening features stone statues shaped like elephants in Level 6. They're called sekizou in Japanese, which is a pun, as it can be read as both "stone statue" and "stone elephant". There's no equivalent pun in the English version, but since Level 6 comes right after The Reveal, it becomes an unspoken joke about "the elephant in the room".
    • In the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, the hero enters a secret underground kingdom whose inhabitants were called Uura ("hidden"), and gets involved with an Uura girl named Urara ("beauty", and a pun on Uura). In the English version, the people are called Subrosians (referring to sub rosa, an old tradition of using a rose to indicate a secret meeting place), and the girl Link dates is called Rosa, preserving the pun of a secret place and a pretty girl.
  • Rabbids Go Home's plot itself is a kind of lucky translation. Said plot revolves around the Rabbids deciding to "go home" by building a huge pile of stuff to go to the moon. In the original version of the game, it makes sense because the Rabbids are insane enough to think they can build a pile of stuff to get somewhere as far away as the moon. In the Japanese version, it makes sense due to there being a lot of mythological connections between rabbits and the moon.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Japanese, HMs are known as 秘伝マシン (lit. "secret machine"). The word 秘伝 is pronounced "hiden", which is very close in meaning and pronunciation to the English word "hidden", so in English it's translated into Hidden Machine.
    • Green Oak's name was changed to Blue Oak internationally because Pokémon Green was never released outside of Japan. This doesn't break his family's floral Theme Naming as "blue oak" is an actual species of tree.
    • Misty's name also counts, her Japanese name is "Kasumi" meaning Mist, and Misty just happens to be a western name that means the same thing.
    • Pikachu is a portmanteau of "Pika Pika" the Japanese onomatopoeia for sparkling and "chu", the sound a mouse makes in Japanese. There also happens to be a real life small and adorable mammal called a Pika, making the name work in English as well.
    • Erika was also one of the only characters to not have a Dub Name Change, because it turns out that her name is also a western name. In fact "Erika" is actually an anglicised version of an old norse name, while English speakers may have been more familiar with the spelling "Erica" with a C.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl:
      • The sprite for the Gambler Trainer Class is a man wearing a red longcoat and fedora hat, making them look a lot like a stereotypical detective. The English translators took note of this and changed the class to P.I., as in Private Investigator, but the fact that they're still flipping a coin and their dialogue and leitmotif was left completely unaltered (they talk a lot about chance and luck) still makes the translation fairly obvious.
      • Even though the games themselves never get translated to Swedish, physical copies of the games are sold with translated manuals in Sweden. The manuals for Diamond and Pearl went a step further by using localized names to describe the towns in the gamenote . Most of the localised names follow a pattern of picking out a key element of the English name, translating it literally, and adding a common town name suffix, such as Veilstone becoming Slöjelanda... Except for Oreburgh, which already follows typical Swedish town name conventions closely enough that it could get rendered as the visually similar "Öreborg".
    • In Pokémon Black and White, the final stage of Tepig's evolution is called Enbuoh in Japanesenote , which sounds almost identical to its translated English name, Emboarnote .
    • Wishiwashi from Pokémon Sun and Moon has the Japanese name "Yowashi", from yowai or yowashi, meaning "weak", and iwashi, meaning "sardine". The English name retains the iwashi part and combines it with "wishy-washy", which is synonymous with "weak" (while also containing a water pun!).
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield's gyms have a much more "competitive sport" feel, and that includes numbered uniforms for both gym leaders and participants. The numbers are usually Goroawase Number puns with no direct translation, except for Raihan, the last gym leader specialising in Dragon-type Pokémon. His number is 241, which translates to "tsuyoi", meaning "strong". In English, it can also be read as "two-for-one", referencing how his preferred battle style is Double Battles, where one trainer sends out two Pokémon at once. There's also Avery, Shield's rival on the Isle of Armor. A Psychic-type specialist, his number is 026, meaning "otsumu" (brain). It can also be read as O-Ni-Ro, which sounds similar to the Greek word "oneiros" (meaning "dreams"), and many Psychic-type Pokémon have a dream motif (like the Drowzee line or the Munna line).
  • Dragon Quest VIII features a pun by Yangus, a guy with a habit of picking his nose. In one scene, he says that he noticed something while "Picking me nose...erm, picking me some flowers". Lucky as that in Japanese the word for "Nose" is also a pun for "Flower" and in English, you can "Pick" flowers or "Pick" your nose, so the pun worked in both languages, if through different words.
  • In the Borderlands 2 DLC "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep" the villain Handsome Sorceror becomes Handsome Hexer in German.
  • In Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night's Extra Stage, a lot of wordplay is based on two Japanese terms meaning "liver" and "test of courage", which sound similar. The English-language fan translation kept most of it by referring to the "test of courage" as "trial of guts".
  • In the Fire Emblem series, there is a class called Dragon Knight that rides non sapient Dragons. When Nintendo finally gave the series an overseas translation starting with the game, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the Dragon Knight class was renamed Wyvern Rider to distinguish the common dragon mounts from the sapient dragons that feature heavily in the plot. Whilst the dragon mounts are commonly known in Japanese as hiryuunote , an obscure bit of information mentioned in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem says the formal name for hiryuu is indeed Wyvern in Japanese as well!
  • Team Fortress 2
    • The Mann vs. Machine mode is abbreviated to MvM. Most translations of the word "machine" also start with "M", so the abbreviation of MvM is usually kept as-is.note 
    • One of Engineer's primaries is called The Rescue Ranger, as a reference to Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. The Polish dub of the show, to keep the RR initials, was subtitled "Brygada Ryzykownego Ratunku" ("Risky Rescue Brigade"). Considering how the weapon works,note  calling it "Ryzykowny Ratunek" ("Risky Rescue") works just as well as the original English name and keeps the reference to the cartoon.
  • Another lucky Malay one, this time from StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void with the Protoss' ark-ship, The Spear of Adun: The word Adun means to "Mix" or "Blend" in Malay. Given the story of the campaign involves the Daelaam Protoss rallying other Protoss factions and even the Zerg and Terrans to defeat Amon, the name is quite fitting. Same for the original Adun, who was the first Protoss to wield Templar and Dark Templar energies in unison.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • The turnip market mechanic is based around a Japanese pun: the word "kabu" can, depending on the kanji used, mean both "stock/share" and "turnip". The English version keeps the pun by calling it the "stalk market" and even works in a pun with the name of the turnip vendor, Sow Joan (after the Dow Jones stock index).
    • Bells, the name of the currency as a whole, is derived from the English word "bell" even in the Japanese version. But it was likely meant to allude to the fact that one of the native Japanese words for bell, "kane", can also mean "money", again, depending on the kanji used. The English version manages to preserve this somewhat thanks to "bells" also being a near-homophone of "bills", which can have several money-related meanings.
  • In Farethere City, the titular city was named Minoniyoku in the original Japanese game, an anagram of "yomi no kuni" or "land of the dead". Vgperson, the English translator for that game, changed it to "Farethere" which not only is an anagram of "hereafter" but can also be read as "fare(well) there" or "farther" (i.e. "the other side").
  • The protagonist from Space Channel 5 is named Ulala, after the Japanese word for beautiful, "urara". Luckily, it can also be interpreted as the French expression "ooh-la-la", often used in response to witnessing something beautiful or amazing.
  • The Protagonist of the Japanese game Death Stranding is named Sam (short for "Samuel") and his defining trait is being disconnected from other people and his unwillingness and innability to forge bonds with others. "Sam" also means "alone" or "by his lonesome" in multiple Slavic languages.
  • In the Spanish localization of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, the titular duo known as the "Deadly Alliance" became the "alianza mortal", since the word "mortal" in Spanish can also be used as a synonym for "deadly".
  • The bicycle shop in EarthBound (1994) is named "Panku" in Japanese, which is both the transliteration of "punk" and Japanese for "flat tire", hence the punk-looking dude running it. In English, it was localized as "Punk-Sure".
  • In one of the scenes in Grim Fandango, Glottis shows the protagonist a wheelbarrow he found and waxes about its upgrade potential. In Russian, the slang word for "ride" (in the sense of car) is тачка — literally "wheelbarrow". The unofficial Russian localizations make full use of the resulting Visual Pun.
  • In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a wacky armadillo boss is named Sillydillo. The Spanish version was coincidentally able to translate this as "Armadiloco", a pun on "armadillo" and "loco" (crazy) that arguably works even better than the original name.
  • In Splatoon 3, Big Man, a manta ray part of the idol group Deep Cut, is named "Mantaro" (a portmanteau of "manta" and "-taro," a common suffix for boy's names in Japan) in the original Japanese version. The German localization was able to get away with leaving this untranslated due to its resemblance to the word for "manta ray" in German, "Mantarochen".
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: As detailed on Legends of Localization, one scene in the game features a museum exhibit describing grizzly bears, and how they were ferocious hunters. One character comments "Those claws look like they could rip someone in half," while another responds with, "Perhaps in its youth. But...He said it’s grizzled. Old. Its hunting days are behind it." This wordplay happened to translate especially well into Japanese, since the Japanese scientific name for the grizzly bear is "haiiroguma", meaning "grey bear"note . Since gray also carries connotations of old age (as in gray hair), the joke was able to be used almost as-is in the Japanese localization.
  • Solid Snake was not actually named after David Hayter. The name "David" is a reference to astronaut David Bowman from the film/novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as David Forrest, Meryl Silverburgh's partner in Hideo Kojima's second adventure game Policenauts, the name intended to match-up with whomever Snake escapes the base with at the end of the first Metal Gear Solid (Hal or Meryl). The fact that the English voice actor just happened to be named David as well is just a happy accident.
  • Persona 4 features a character named Kuma, which means "bear" (as in the animal) in Japanese. When he enters the real world, he names himself "Kumada", which is a legitimate Japanese name. The English translation calls him Teddie, which is both a word for bear and a legitimate name, and adapts his "-kuma" Verbal Tic by having him make un-BEAR-able puns. The character was already a Pungeon Master in Japanese, so this works well.
  • The paranormal research that forms a key plot point in Persona 5 is called "rikai kagaku" in Japanese. It literally translates to "cognitive science", but a character points out that the "ka" in "kagaku" is written with the kanji for "mysterious" instead of "science". In English, the research is named, in this character's own words: "Cognitive PSIence, with a 'psi' in front. Less science, more supernatural."
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Fang the Sniper of Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble was originally given the name Nack the Weasel in English. While his original title did not refer to his species, "Weasel" can also be used to refer to a devious person, preserving the antagonism in his name.
    • The military faction G.U.N.note , first introduced in Sonic Adventure 2, works as a pun in both English and Japanese, since "gun" means "army" in the latter language.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • The Project Zetsubou Fan Translation of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc benefited from a few lucky accidents:
      • A serial killer character obsessed with romanticized pretty boys explains that she kills people because she is a "rotten girl", which in addition to a description of her character is the Japanese term for a Yaoi Fangirl (fujoshi). Project Zetsubou changed this to "slasher", which has a similarly appropriate double meaning for a serial killer.
      • The same character takes to addressing Byakuya as "Byakuya-sama". To get the worshipful tone across, Project Zetsubou had her say "my white knight" — as Byakuya's name literally means white night. (They say in their TL notes that this "fell into place so well it’s almost scary".)
      • Monokuma likes to talk about the students' "koroshiai", a pun that means "Killing School Life". While mulling this one over, the Zetsubou staff noticed that this word looked a lot like "koroshiamu", which is how Japanese renders the English word "coliseum" — and that word just happens to make a good translation on multiple levels!
    • In the fifth trial of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, a character makes an Accidental Innuendo by saying "If you got penetrated by something so big and thick, you would die instantly!" In Japanese, the word used for "die" is a homophone for the word "to come". In English, "die" is old slang for "orgasm", and French has a similar double-meaning.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Dual Destinies, one character is named "Kaguya", after both a legendary princess who came down from the moon and glowed brightly, as well as a satellite launched by Japan in 2007 (referencing her work at a space agency). This was translated as "Aura", which in addition to a normal given name is the name of a 2004 US satellite and refers to a bright glow around a person.
    • In the first game, Mia Fey's murderer is a character known as "Masaru Konaka", the kanji for which translate as "small, medium, large". To keep a similar pun, the English version changed his name to Redd White, CEO of Bluecorp. Two games later, Diego Armando blames Phoenix for Mia's death, claiming he should have been there to protect her. A major plot point is that Armando cannot see red on a white background (due to an injury), giving Redd White's English name additional symbolism that was not present in the Japanese version.
    • While most references to Japanese foods are changed overseas as part of the Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change, Gumshoe's love for ramen noodles is kept, as instant ramen is perhaps even more associated with Perpetual Poverty in America.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, Blackquill's nickname for Bobby is "Fool Bright" — not only showing how much he denigrates him, but also how Bobby's act 'fool' everyone into thinking he was 'bright' while he's really not.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney, one character's name in the Japanese version is Decargo Mieterman. "Mieterman" is a pun on "saw it all" — fitting for a witness. But he's also a meterman for the Altamont Gas Company. For the translators, bringing his last name into English was something of a free pass.
  • The When They Cry series maintains the pun in the word "cry" ("naku" in Japanese), which can mean both "call" and "weep" in both Japanese and English.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, an extremely important reveal hinges on the number 9 sounding identical to the letter Q in Japanese. This obviously isn't true in English, but fortunately the number 9 looking similar to a lowercase q in English let the translators preserve the most crucial parts of the reveal by changing a vital clue to be written on paper.
  • The OEL visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club! has Monika telling the main character "You kind of left her (Sayori) hanging this morning, you know?" near the end of Act 1, which while it normally means "you left her waiting", the "hanging" part can also be interpreted as an allusion to the later shocking discovery of Sayori being Driven to Suicide by hanging herself with a rope. The Chinese fan translation patch has Monika telling the player "你算是把她晾在家里了,你知道吗?" ("You gave her the cold shoulder at home, you know?"). "晾" ("liàng") can mean both the figurative sense of "giving someone the cold shoulder", and the literal sense of "hanging" (more specifically, leaving clothes from the laundry out hanging to air-dry on a clothesline). Monika's statement in Chinese could thus also be interpreted as "You left her hanging like a drying shirt over at home, you know?", which definitely fits the description of Sayori's fate in a poetic sense.


    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the Dutch dub, "Bikini Bottom" is translated as "Bikinibroek". "Broek" happens to mean both "pants" and "brook", and is a very common suffix for a small town close to water.
    • In France and Italy, instead of "April fool" they say "Poisson d'Avril" or "Pesce d'Aprile" (Fish of April) respectively. This makes the episode "Fools in April" funnier in those countries.
    • In the episode "Band Geeks", right after his Rousing Speech that convinces his fellow marching band members to work hard and practice in order to make Squidward proud, SpongeBob shouts "A one, a two, a skiddly diddly doo!", which mostly serves as a comedic Mood Whiplash. The Brazilian version changes it to "É um, é dois, não deixem pra depois!" ("A one, a two, don't leave it for later!"), keeping the rhyming joke while also fitting with the more serious tone of SpongeBob's speech.
  • In the Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the eponymous Gummi Bears get their trademark bouncing ability when they take a drink of Gummiberry Juice. In German, the words for "bears" ("Bären") and "berries" ("Beeren") sound nearly identical. Needless to say, the pun with the Gummi Bears ("Gummibären") and the Gummiberries ("Gummibeeren") works even better than in English.
  • In South Park:
    • Mr. Garrisson once refers to Mr. Slave as his Teacher's Assistant, or Teacher's Ass for short. In Hungarian, Tanársegéd and Tanársegg mean exactly the same.
    • The Brazilian translation "Here Comes the Neighborhood" features an odd example: some people would burn "lowercase Ts" (that is, crosses) outside someone's house with the intent to convey to them that it was "time to leave". It actually gets MORE, not LESS stilted in Brazilian Portuguese, as it would be normally translated as "hora de ir embora" rather than "tempo de ir embora", which is possible, but sounds odd. However, since this was a case of Strange Minds Think Alike, the expression getting more stilted made it even funnier.
    • Flatulent superstars Terrance and Phillip have their initials on their shirts, which adds an unintended visual joke for the French-speaking. The letters PT are pronounced pay-tay, just like the verb "péter", which is French for "farting".
  • The Brazilian translation of Wacky Races saw the Slag Brothers being translated as "Irmãos Rocha". Irmãos = Brothers, and Rocha, which happens to be a common surname in Portuguese, means Rock. The net result is their name being more 'plausible' in Portuguese than in English.
  • Oscar's Orchestra: The show’s German dub has a veritable field day with Oscar the piano’s flying ability since in German there’s a word (“Flügel”) that can mean both “wing” and “grand piano”. To the extent that they even renamed the show “Oskar, der fliegende Flügel” after the pun. note 
  • The Polish dub of The Tick slipped in a joke about American Maid's vocation being "preserving peace", based on the word used to translate "maid" meaning more specifically "room maid" and "room" and "peace" being homonyms in Polish.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the French dub of the episode "The Cutie Pox", "The Three Strikes" (a name Apple Bloom considered for if they all had bowling for a talent, that Scootaloo shoots down with "That makes us sound like we struck out") did not translate. Apple Bloom instead suggests "Les Trois Boules" and Scootaloo shoots it down by saying it would make them sound like "des boulets". "Boulet" is both a diminutive of "boule" ("ball") and a colloquial term for "fool," so that works just as well.
    • Another French example is in "Owl's Well That Ends Well", with the gag of Spike responding to Owlowiscious hooting as if he were saying "Who?" In most languages this is rendered as a nonsense sound, but due to H being silent in French, it is instead interpreted as "Où?" or "Where?" So while in the English version Spike replies to "Who?" with "It's me, Spike", in French he replies to "Où?" with "Ben, ici!" ("Here, of course!")
    • In the French translation of "Power Ponies", Applejack's alter-ego Mistress Mare-velous (a Captain Ersatz of Wonder Woman) is known as Wonder Jument ("Wonder Mare"). Even better, since the "t" is silent "jument" sounds a lot like the English word "woman".
    • In the Italian dub of the same episode, Mane-Iac is called "Crinimal", a perfect pun based on "criniera" ("mane") and "criminal".
    • In the Russian dub, the "kelp/help" mishearing in "Applebuck Season" is rendered as "помощь" (help) confused with "плющь" (ivy). This is arguably a better fit for the conversation since ivy is a far more likely diet for a horse than seaweed.
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the episode "Slumber Party Panic", the Gumball Guardians force Finn to answer a math question — "2 + 2, solve it or die!" In the Japanese dub, the word "shi" is used for "die"... but since "shi" also refers to the number four, it just makes the situation even funnier.
    • In the Norwegian dub, "Rainicorn" is rendered as "reinhjørning", making a pun on "regn" (rain as in "regnbue", rainbow) and "ein" (as in "einhjørning", unicorn), which are pronounced the same, save for the R.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Dipper is a closet fan of a girly Icelandic pop group called BABBA, it's worth mentioning that BABBA sounds just like "baba" (It only has an extra "b") which in Spanish and Portuguese means "drool", it only made the joke funnier in the Iberian and Latin American Spanish dubs.
    • In Russian it sounds almost identical to "баба"/"baba" — depending on context it's either "adult woman" or "sexually desired woman", which makes him a Dirty Kid and Covert Pervert.
  • The Latin American Spanish dub for Cow and Chicken refers the character I.M. Weasel as "Zoila Comadreja", which is in homophone with "Soy La Comadreja", exact translation of "I Am Weasel", while 'Zoila' is an actual given name, albeit a female one, which is also perfect given that comadreja is gramatically female in Spanish.
    • The Polish dub had something similar: The character's name was 'Jam Łasica', with Łasica meaning "weasel" and Jam being an old-fashioned way of saying "I am". It's also one, very similar letter from 'Jan', the Polish version of the name 'John'.
  • The Latin American Spanish dub for Regular Show translates Pops Maellard's name as 'Papaleta', a combination of Papá (meaning father, dad or grandad, and thus, an equivalent to Pops) and Paleta, which means "lollipop", creating an accurate and catchy name. The Brazilian Portuguese dub did something similar, naming him 'Pairulito' (pai means "dad" and pirulito means "lollipop").
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • In the episode "Laundry Day", Starfire attempts to sew a dress — by placing the fabric in the oven and cooking it. This joke is even more funny in the Portuguese dub, as the translation for the verb sew (coser) is a homophone (i.e. is pronounced in the same manner) as another verb related to cooking (cozer) which was close enough to what Starfire actually did.
    • In the episode "Terra-ized", Starfire initially thinks that the "L-Word" is "Lobster", with a thought bubble showing a lobster appearing over her head. It works in Italian too, where both "Love" and "Lobster" still begin with the same letter (being respectively "Amore" and "Aragosta").
  • In the Bojack Horseman episode "Downer Ending", Sarah Lynn's drug dealer turns out to be an Asian doctor named Allen Hu. In the English version, his introduction leads to a brief "Who's On First" routine about him and a certain time-travelling alien; the pun also works in the French dub since "who"/"Hu" sounds like "où", which means "where".
    • The Show Within a Show Bojack acted in is called Horsin' Around in English. The Japanese dub changes it to Baka-Sawagi, which means "fooling around", but also contains the kanji for "horse".
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Treehouse of Horror V": In "The Shinning" (a parody of The Shining) Homer writes "No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy" on the walls. The Latin American Spanish dub translated it to "Sin televisión y sin cerveza Homero pierde la cabeza", making a good rhyme while conveying the same thing. The European Spanish dub's version is "Sin tele y sin cerveza, Homer pierde la cabeza", which is exactly the same minus the lack of a Dub Name Change for Homer and the shortening of the word "televisión".
    • In "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" (the episode where the family visits Japan) Homer tells Emperor Akihito, "As we say in my country, 'Hasta la vista, baby'!" As it turns out, the European Spanish version of Terminator 2 translated that line as "¡Sayonara, baby!", "sayonara" being a Japanese loanword, so the Spanish Simpsons dub had an extra layer of wordplay.
    • "I Love Lisa": The Brazilian dub changes "Let's bee friends" to "Vamos cera migos". The verb to be cannot be translated as anything that sounds like a word for "bee" but "wax" translates as "cera", which sounds almost like "ser". "Let's be friends" translates as "Vamos ser amigos".
    • "Secrets of a Successful Marriage": Homer tries to read the dictionary definition of "wedding", but instead reads the one for "weeding". The joke remains the exact same in the Latin American Spanish dub, as their equivalents also happen to be similar, namely "boda" and "poda" respectively.
    • "Das Bus" ends with the kids stranded on a desert island. The narrator says that they were saved by "Uh... Let's say Moe", clearly making it up on the moment. In the Italian translation, Moe is called "Boe", which is homophone with the expression boh (meaning roughly "I dunno"). This adds an extra layer of wordplay to the narrator's clear lack of interest.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy is known in Brazil as "Du, Dudu e Edu", all common nicknames for the name "Eduardo" (Portuguese equivalent of Edward). "Dudu" is also much more natural than the somewhat forced "Double D" Edd is often called as.
  • Evil Con Carne: The title is a rather forced pun on 'chili con carne'. The Brazilian version goes for a more subtle 'take it or leave it' route with the wordplay, titling the show "Mal Encarnado" (evil incarnate). The word 'carne' remains a part of it (which also means meat in Portuguese just as in Spanish), while also having a more separate and easy to understand meaning.
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, the Flintstones and Rubbles visit "Rockapulco", an obvious pun on "rock" and "Acapulco". This was preserved in the Latin American Spanish dub ("Los Picapiedra"), where they visit "Rocapulco" (with "roca" meaning "rock").
  • In the Greek dub of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Be-smurfed" of The Smurfs, Smurfette's unintetional wish for Greedy Smurf changes from him being "out of that bed and fit as a fiddle" to "I told him not to eat so much, but he played his violin", which is a Greek figure of speech meaning to ignore advice. Since fiddles and violins are, in fact, the same instrument, this visual pun is easier to understand for a Greek audience.
  • In the Latin American Spanish dub of Steven Universe, Pink Diamond's name is changed to "Diamante Rosa", which is a correct translation that adds an extra layer of foreshadowing to the revelation that she was Rose Quartz all along.
  • In the Free Willy animated series, the villain got his We Can Rebuild Him level injuries when attempting to destroy a ship carrying illegal cargo with his company's ''logos'', because his Dumb Muscle servants misunderstood the order to remove those as an order to remove logs. In Hebrew, "Bul'" means stamp while a log is "Bul' ets", so that's what the dub used.
  • In Arthur, D.W. has an Imaginary Friend named Nadine. Take away the second "N" and you get "nadie", Spanish for "nothing", making the name more meaningful to Spanish-speakers.
  • We Bare Bears: The three titular bears are named Grizzly, Panda and (oddly enough) Ice Bear in the original English. In the Brazilian Portuguese dub, their names are alliterative — Pardo, Panda and Polar, all being the adjectives of their species.
  • Animaniacs:
    • Among the recurring characters, there are the Goodfeathers, a pun on Goodfellas and "feathers", as they are three gangster pigeons used as a parody of mafia movies. In the Italian dub, they are known as "Picciotti", not just because it means "young mafiosi" in Sicilian, but also because it sounds similar to "piccioni" (Italian for "pigeons"). In this way, even the Italian children who are not familiar with Sicilian language or mafia movies would have thought that "picciotti" was just a funny way to call the pigeons.
    • Among the Goodfeathers, there was Pesto, named after Joe Pesci and his character Tommy DeVito, and being a pun on the type of pasta sauce. Coincidentally, it became a Meaningful Name in the Italian dub, because the verb "pestare" is a common way to say "beat up" (literally "crush", like how the aforementioned pasta sauce is prepared), and Pesto is the most violent of the three Goodfeathers.
  • In The Boondocks, Colonel H. Stinkmeaner's signature insult is calling others "nyukka" or "nyugga" instead of "nigga", especially the elderly Robert Freeman. This worked out fine for when the show was dubbed into Hungarian, where "nyugger" (a variation of "nyugdíjas" or retiree/pensioner) was already a common derogatory slang for old people.

    Real Life 
  • The turkey bird has also names of different countries in two regions: in many Asian and European languages (including Turkish itself), the bird species is literally called "(an) India(n) (bird)", while in Portuguese it's called peru.
  • The Russian RPG series of weapons. In Russian, the Latin alphabet transliteration of the weapons' designation comes out as Ruchnoy Protivotankovyy Granatomyot: "Handheld Anti-Tank Grenade Launcher". This provides a perfect acronym match-up with the English designation of this weapon type: Rocket-Propelled Grenade.
  • The Japanese expression "ai shiteiru" (愛している) and the English phrase "I love you" have the same amount of syllables and consistent mouthflaps if the 'shi' and the second "i" sounds aren't stressed.
    • Not to mention they both start with the "I/Ai" sound and end with an "u" sound.
    • The Japanese word "suki" (好き) is often used in romance anime and manga to create love confusion because "suki" can be interpreted as either platonic or romantic love, causing people to wonder if the person who said that meant "I view you as a good friend" or "I love you". In other words, it has almost the exact same connotations that the English phrase "I like you" does.
      • On that note, "daisuki" (大好き)can be used to intensify the sentiment (dai = "big" or "much.") Thus, a distinction between the two might be rendered, "Likes her, or likes likes her?"
  • "Sumimasen" (Japanese) and "excuse me" (English) are each usable in many different senses and contexts...very, very nearly all of them identical, the exception being when "sumimasen" can mean "thank you", although some creative translation allows one to realize that something like "I don't mean to be any trouble" has connotations of thanks.
  • Similarly, chotto matte is conveniently similar to "just a minute", right down to the lip movements.
  • For Portuguese speakers, the word "arigato" (thank you) has the same meaning for their similar word "obrigado" (although there's a female counterpart "obrigada"). It initially was thought to be one of the Japanese words based on words brought from Portuguese immigrants during the Muromachi period, but that word dates earlier than that event.
  • Japanese has a phrase, "gochisosama (deshita)", which means "thank you for the meal" and is said when finishing a meal. Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish languages have a phrase, "tak for mad/takk for maten/tack för maten" ("thank you for (the) food"), which is used in the exact same context, making the phrase much less awkward-sounding when it's translated into those languages than into English which doesn't have an equivalent phrase.
  • "R. I. P." on tombstones doesn't actually stand for "Rest in peace", but for the Latin "Requiesca(n)t in pace", which means (almost) the same thing. (To be precise, it expresses the hope that "may he / she / it / (they) rest in peace". One wonders why this particular phrasing was deemed necessary.)
    • Depending on the translation, it could also mean "(I command that) he/she/they must rest in peace." As in, don't disturb the dead. This is because Latin actually has a third-person imperative.
  • In Japan, legend tells that the sakura blossom is pink because it has been stained by the blood of a warrior. This might remind you of the Greek legend of Pyramus and Thisbe, the lovers whose blood stained the mulberry tree forever. In Iran, red tulips are said to indicate that a martyr has died on that spot.
    • Poppies have similar symbolism in Europe and Australia, partly because of their colour and partly because they were among the few plants that could grow on the devastated battlefields of the First and Second World Wars (In fact they positively flourished in the muddy, churned soil).
    • Or, for that matter, the Christian allegory of how holly bushes look like they do because a lost lamb bumbled into them, bending the leaves and staining the berries with its blood.
    • A similar story follows the dogwood, whose flowers have four petals (technically bracts) with a notch at the tips with a dark pink/red edge. According to the lore, the dogwood was the tree used to carve Christ's cross, and the flowers took on a cross shape with nail holes, blood stains, and a crown of thorns in the center (actually a cluster of true flowers). The tree also became smaller, too small to be used to create a cross to hold a man. The truth is that "dogwood" is a corruption of "dagwood", as in "wood used to craft daggers" — also good for killing people.
  • The Japanese name Jōji sounds very similar to the English name "George". Actor Joji Nakata and manga artist Johji Manabe have both been known to occasionally sign their names in romaji as George. Taking it to its logical conclusion, baseball player Kenji Johjima (in Eastern order, Johjima Kenji) occasionally refers to himself as George Mackenzie (Jōji Makkenjī).
    • Ken is a legitimate name in Japanese, just as it is in English.
      • Not to mention Dan (although there's a slight difference in pronunciation).
    • Don is quite a common first name in Sri Lanka.
    • There are female names that work like Jōji/George too: Mei/May, Karin/Karen...
    • Emma is a common name in Japanese and English — even the romaji is the same (except in Japanese it's only "Ema", with one M — the consonant-doubling diacritic is not used for M; in these cases, they use the n sound before it, but not here, lest it'd become Enma — as in Enma-daioh, King of the Underworld).
      • Naomi: a Hebrew-derived name meaning "pleasant", and a Japanese name meaning "straight beauty". Even the meaning overlaps somewhat!
    • There's also "Jun/June" (although in Japanese, "Jun" can also be a boy's name).
    • "Joe" has also been known to be used in Japanese for a boy's name (e.g., Joe Kido from Digimon Adventure, Joe Musashi from Shinobi).
    • "Mimi" is also a Japanese/English name.
    • And Guy/Gai.
    • Eimi/Amy, Rei/Ray, Haru/Hal.
    • Anna and Erika are also common names in Japan and lots of other countries.
      • Lately there have been plenty of Japanese names loaned from other countries and given a kanji reading so they will technically fit, including but not limited to the aforementioned cases.
    • Eri/Elly.
    • Mari (Japanese) / Maria (Latin) / Marie / Mary.
  • This same pun works in a surprising number of languages:
    • English:
      Wife: Do you think I'm pretty or ugly?
      Husband: Pretty ugly, in my opinion.
    • Chinese (rendered in Traditional script here):
      妻子: 你覺得我好看還是難看? (Do you think I'm good-looking or hard to look at?)
      丈夫: 我覺得你好難看。 (I think you're very hard to look at. The pun works in that the word for "good", 好, is used as an intensifier in some Chinese dialects and topolects colloquially.)
    • German:
      Ehefrau: Findest du mich schön oder hässlich?
      Ehemann: Ganz schön hässlich, würd ich sagen.
    • Dutch:
      Vrouw: Vind je me knap of lelijk?
      Man: Ik zou zeggen, "knap lelijk"!
    • Danish:
      Kone: Synes du, at jeg er pæn eller grim?
      Mand: Jeg synes, du er pænt grim.
    • Czech:
      Manželka: Myslíš jsi, že jsem pěkná, nebo ošklivá?
      Muž: Myslím si, že jsi pěkně ošklivá.
  • An old mathematical pun in English works in Turkish as well: "Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven eight/ate nine." In Turkish, the number "seven" translates as "yedi", which is also the third person past tense form of "to eat". In Turkish, after adjusting for word order, the joke would be "Neden dört beşten korktu? Çünkü beş altı yedi!" Literally, "Why was four afraid of five? Because five six seven/ate!"
  • Not really a translation, per se, but anyone who has analyzed British and American English can find some interesting parallels between different words with similar meanings. In British, they use the term "bent" to describe someone being corrupt, very similar to the American use of "crooked." Similarly, the British term "Wanker," originally meaning someone who masturbates has since generalized into any moron or otherwise annoying person, with something similar happening to the related terms "jerkoff" and "jackoff" in American English, as in "Some jackoff stole my car."
  • The English words "crap" and "shit" and the Japanese word "kuso" are all interjections that can also be used as colloquial terms for excrement, making word play based on the two definitions work in both languages.
    • Spanish "mierda" and Italian "merda" are synonymous with "crap" and "shit", in both senses. Italian also has "stronzata" (more or less "bullshit"), a word that derives from "stronzo", meaning literally "turd" (but also "asshole" when used as an insult).
    • Similarly, the Latin "stercus" is a rude colloquial term for animal excrement but can also be used to suggest something is stupid, unfair, deceitful or nonsensical, similar to the modern English sense of the word "bullshit".
  • The most important body in China is the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China. As in English, the word for "standing" in Chinese in this context is the same as "standing" as in "standing up". Now, back in the '80s, a group of CPC elders formed the Central Advisory Commission of the CPC; because its members were all so old, Party wags called it the Sitting Committee...
    • Bear in mind: this pun doesn't even work in most European languages.note  It's blind luck that it works in Chinese.note 
  • In Indonesia, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) is translated into "Anjungan Tunai Mandiri" (literally "Independent Cash Bridge") so the abbreviation is still the same.
  • The similarity of again/against in English is mirrored in German with wieder/wider, making it perfectly translatable without a common word stem.
  • In German and French, abbreviating the word for "night" is doable as "n8": German n-acht (Nacht), French n-huit (nuit) (the H is silent). (This almost works in other languages, too: English would have n-eight (close to "night") and Spanish n-ocho (close to "noche").
  • In Brazil, since Santa Claus is known as Papai Noel (Father Christmas), his wife is known as Mamãe Noel (Mother Christmas). The same applies in French (Père Noël — Mère Noël).
    • The same happens in Portugal with Pai Natal and Mãe Natal.
  • Both in English and in Portuguese, an arse/ass, "Burro" in Portuguese, can mean either an animal or a dummy.note 
  • Pope Gregory I's famous Latin pun upon seeing beautiful heathen slave boys from England at a market — "non Angli, sed angeli" — actually works better when literally translated into modern English — "not Angles, but angels" — where the two words sound much more similar (for instance, having the same number of syllables) and look almost identical.
  • The Chinese character 胆 (or 膽 in traditional Chinese) means either "gallbladder" or "courage", very similar to the English idiomatic uses of the word "gall".
    • Similarly, "gall" in Turkish is "öd". "Ödü kopmak", or "for one's gall to break/rip" means being very frightened.
  • In English, "Czech" is very similar to "check" in pronounciation. In Icelandic, assuming they're both nouns, it works better as they're almost the same (Tékki vs tékki).
  • Danish language has a word, "mis", that can both mean "cat" and be a rather informal term for the vagina, just like the English word "pussy". This makes most English puns using "pussy" quite easy to translate into Danish.
    • Same with "chatte" in French, with the added bonus that it means a female cat specifically.
    • As with the French above, so with the German "Muschi".
  • The traditional Japanese measurement of a shaku is very nearly identical to one foot.
    • This could be explained by the base derivation being the approximate length of a human thumb — something common to both cultures, give or take relative body sizes. Four "thumbs" make one foot and the unit can be subdivided into three approximate inches.
  • The English given name Devon is also a Hindi name, although more often romanized as Devan.
  • West Berlin had the US-sponsored, German-language broadcasting station RIAS, whose initials could stand for "Radio in the American Sector" in English and "Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor" in German.
    • There is a joke that was popular among German soldiers in the last weeks of World War II; "Berlin ist die Stadt der Warenhäuser. Hier war'n Haus, da war'n Haus" — literally "Berlin is the city of warehouses: here was a house and there was a house". Translated to English (as featured in Downfall), it goes:
      "Berlin is the city of warehouses: 'Where's my house?' 'Where's my house?'"
  • Although the company is German, the name "BMW" works in both German and English. The name actually stands for "Bayerische Motoren Werke", but it also just happens to stand for the German name's English translation, "Bavarian Motor Works".
  • German chemical company BASF's name stands for "Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik". Translated into English, it means "Baden Aniline and Soda Factory" (Baden is an old German state in which the company was founded).
  • In Japanese, people sometimes playfully write 'thank you' as '39', punning off the sound of the numbers (san kyuu). This is really easy to convert to the playful English '10Q'.
  • Whereas a 90s record album might be available on "CD" and "LP" in English, French would have an additional, equally convenient two-character abbreviation: K7 (ka-sept, "cassette").
  • There is the Russian joke: "Какая разница между слоном и роялем?" ("What's the difference between a grand piano and an elephant?"). The answer is "К роялю можно прислонится, а к слону нельзя прироялиться" ("You can lean upon a grand piano, but you can't grandpiano upon an elephant"), which works because the root of "leaning upon" is "slon", same as the word for elephant. A very similar joke exists in Hebrew, where the answer to the same question is "פסנתר אפשר להפיל, אבל פיל אי אפשר לפסנתר" ("You can drop a piano, but you can't piano an elephant"), which works because the Hebrew word for elephant is "pil'", and the one for "to drop" is "lehapil'". Think of it like the English pun "What's the difference between a fish and a piano? You can tune a piano but you can't tuna (tune a) fish."
  • The word emoji is derived from Japanese e (picture) and moji (word). It coincidentally happens to sound like the English "emotion", so when they took off in the West, English speakers understood from the name that they were expressive picture-words. Speakers of Romance languages where the root for "emotion" comes from can pick up on the resemblance, as well. The name also sounds similar to an earlier term from the English Internet, "emoticon" — odd combinations of characters used to express nonverbal emotions, like :), <3, or ^_^.
  • The pun "Where do cats go when they die? Purrgatory" works in many Latin based languages. For example, in Spanish the pun would be on the "gato", or cat, in "Purgatorio."
  • In English, there's a joke about a zookeeper writing to his suppliers. He starts the letter, "Dear Sir, please send me two m̶o̶n̶g̶o̶o̶s̶e̶s̶." He throws it out and starts again: "Dear Sir, please send me two m̶o̶n̶g̶e̶e̶s̶e̶." He throws that out too, then thinks for a minute and comes up with, "Dear Sir, please send me one mongoose, and please also send me another mongoose." Despite the language-specific nature of the joke, it has equivalents in at least two other languages:
    • In French, you can keep the setup the same, and substitute jackals (correct plural of chacal is chacals but looks like it could be chacaux).
    • In Russian, there's a joke from Soviet times that relies on the same concept. A factory needs five fireplace pokers, and the workers are filling out the necessary requisition form. The problem is that Russian has different plural forms depending on the number attached; two to four takes the fairly easy genitive singular, but five or more takes the genitive plural, which is highly irregular, and in the case of "poker" (kocherga) nobody can remember the correct form (officially kocheryog, but there are several other equally plausible possibilities). Anyway, the workers dither for a while over the correct declension, only agreeing that putting the wrong one on an official requisition will bring disaster down on them all. At last, they ask the old hand in the place, and he supplies what should have been the obvious answer: send in one form for two kochergi and another for three kochergi. (In an extended version, they get their pokers, but the bureaucrats, wise to their game but also unable to decline the noun, write "We have sent your entire order for four kochergi plus one extra.")
  • A couple playing with the phrase "hi, baby" realize that "habibi" is a real Arabic word, and quickly look it up to make sure it's not offensive. It means "my beloved".
  • The Canadian habit of calling colored pencils “pencil crayons” is said to have originated from confusion at French-English bilingual packaging. Since the French word for pencil is crayon, a box labeled “pencil/crayon” sounds to an English speaker like it's describing some sort of hybrid product combining a pencil with colored wax crayons, which, coincidentally, is exactly what it is.
  • In Japanese, "1" is sometimes used in place of i as a Goroawase Number. "1" also looks like the Roman letter "I", making it easy to maintain "1" puns when translating into English.
  • The Portuguese word for dog, cão, coincidently is also pronounced similarly to how Fujian Chinese, Taiwanese and some Southeast Asian folks would pronounce the Hokkien dialect word for dog, 狗 (cào/kow, which is pronounced gǒu in Mandarin Chinese — which is close enough but not quite). Sadly, this veers into My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels territory in English.
  • Ninpō (忍法), a more modern, alternate term for ninjutsu (忍術), can be easily construed in English as a portmanteau of "ninja power".
  • The word root ot- (as in otology, or the study of the ear) is of Greek origin and refers to the ear. It also so happens that in Japanese, oto is the Japanese reading of 音, the character for "sound", which is what ears perceive.
  • "Pochi" is a common name for dogs in Japan. It lines up very well with the also-common "Poochie/Poochy" in the English-speaking world.
  • Torikera, the Japanese word for Triceratops, while originally just a transliteration into katakana, "Tori" is also Japanese for bird, fitting with the dinosaur's parrot-like beak.
  • The word "Pay-per-view" is translated in Spanish as "pago por visión", which means the same thing, allowing the acronym "PPV" to be retained.
  • The Japanese word そう (sou) sounds very much like the English word "so", and it happens that in many contexts they mean practically the same thing and can be used in very similar ways. e.g. そう思う (sou omou) means "(I) think so", そう言った (sou itta) means "(They) said so", そうですか? (sou desu ka) means "Is that so?", etc. The latter is also easy to dub in anime, since in natural speech it has the same number and timing of syllables as "Is that so?" or "Is that right?"
    • This pun, relying on the fact that Saw and そう are pronounced the same in Japanese, happened to translate quite well into English:
      • Japanese:
        Fubuki: いちゃいちゃソウかな。 Icha-icha Saw kana. ("Lovey-dovey Saw, I guess?")note 
        Korone: そうだね!いちゃいちゃソウだね! Sou (Saw) da ne! note  Icha-icha Saw (sou) da ne! note 
      • English:
        Fubuki: Lovey-dovey Saw, I guess?
        Korone: If you saw [say] so! You're saw [so] lovey-dovey!
  • The German word "ne" can be added to the end of a sentence to form a tag question (inviting the listener to indicate agreement, like "right?" or "isn't it?" in English). Example: Wir müssen da lang, ne? ("We need to go that way, don't we?") The Japanese particle serves the same function, has the same sentence placement, and is pronounced the same way. Example: 頭がいいね。 Atama ga ii ne. ("You’re smart, aren't you.")
    • Portuguese also uses "" in the same way.
    • The English "eh?" (e.g. "That's pretty neat, eh?") also serves this function and sounds very similar.
    • The Japanese ね can also serve an almost identical function to similar-sounding "hey" (to catch the listener's attention), e.g. ね、知ってる? Ne, shitteru? ("Hey, did you know?")
    • More generally, several tag questions across several languages[1] are monosyllabic and come at the ends of sentences. English has "right?", "eh?", or "yeah?"; French has "hein?"; German has "ne?", "gell?", or "wa?"; Portuguese has "né?"; Czech and Slovak have "že?"; Italian has "no?"; Spanish has "¿no?"; etc.
  • Several languages use a word that sounds like or rhymes with "eh?" or "hey?"[2] to express confusion or surprise, including languages that are completely unrelated to each other (e.g. Japanese vs. Indo-European languages).
  • In many languages, sequences of sounds similar to "mama" and "papa" mean "mother" and "father", usually but not always in that order. It is believed that this is a coincidence resulting from the process of early language acquisition. That is, babies tend to make these sounds while babbling (because they are among the easiest sounds to make), and parents associate these early sounds with themselves and thus assign them the meanings "mother" and "father". See this article for more details.
  • The world "orangutan" comes from the Malay phrase "orang hutan", meaning "forest person", but by coincidence the first part of the word resembles the word "orange", which fits with their coloring.
  • The name "Arctic" comes from the Greek word arktos, meaning "bear" (and conversely, "Antarctic" literally means "against the bear"). The Ancient Greeks used this name because the constellation Ursa Major (the "big bear") is in the northern sky, not knowing there are polar bears in the Arctic and not in the Antarctic.
  • The Czech word letet normally means "to fly", but it also colloquially used to mean "fashionable". This means phrases like "You look fly" can translate quite well.
  • The name of the extinct aquatic bird Gansus is derived from the name of Gansu province in China where its fossils were found. However, it also sounds like the Spanish and Tagalog word gansa, which refers to a modern type of aquatic bird — the goose.
  • The name of Belarus means "White Russia" (bela = white, rus = Russia). In Chinese, "white" is bái while "Russia" is Èluósī –- and by coincidence the two words together (Báièluósī) not only mean the same thing as "Belarus", but sound similar to it as well.
  • The saying “Men to the left because women are always right”, commonly found in bathroom stalls, gets an extra layer of wordplay in Filipino, because “male” can be read as “mah-leh” — which is exactly how the Filipino word for “wrong” is pronounced. The joke can thus be rendered as “Ang male sa kaliwa kasi women are always right.”
  • The Quechua word chiri (one of the possible derivations of the country name Chile) means “cold”, and sounds like the English word “chilly”.

Alternative Title(s): Lucky Translation