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Overly Literal Transcription

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Mister Peanutbutter hires a very Literal-Minded sign maker and put the image and caption on the right.

Describe topic here. And I mean in that spot. Ctrl + A, Backspace, THEN describe it. That's just the default message, you're supposed to replace it are you getting all this?

In fiction, one character will dictate something to be written to another. However, something silly might happen, making the first say something not meant to be written, which the second will obliviously write.

The inverse of Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.

Compare Repeat After Me, Literal-Minded, Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic, Virtual Assistant Blunder.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One of the random gadgets in Doraemon, the Microphone Pen, which has a mini-microphone on its base and does the writing for you while you point its tip on paper, the downside being that it takes in literally everything, even background noises (in retrospect, this is among the few gadgets which has a real-life counterpart superior to its fictional equivalent). It appears in a manga issue where Nobita is tasked with writing a letter by his mother Tamako, but had his handwriting criticized and begs Doraemon for help. Doraemon produces the gadget, but things goes hilariously wrong as usual.
    Nobita: [dictating the pen] Dear Auntie, thank you for the lovely present you've sent me. I have been a well-behaved child since...
    Tamako: [calling her son from downstairs] Nobita! There's a letter for you!
    [the sentence "Nobita! There's a letter for you!" promptly shows up in the middle of Nobita's letter, to his chagrin]

    Fan Works 
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has this as a Freeze-Frame Bonus in Episode 13, when Kirito is looking at the back of Alfheim Online's box. One half talks about features such as how the game teaches players "valuable life lessons like sharing, table manners, and aerial combat supremacy," while the rest is some disillusioned developer's email complaining about what a "soul-sucking shitshow" the game was to make, and asking his boss to make any corrections to the write-up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in Animal Crackers, where the secretary decides not to write down what Capt. Spaulding says on the grounds that it was nonsense.
    Jamison: Now, uh... you said a lot of things here that I didn't think were important, so I just omitted them.
    Capt. Spaulding: So, you just omitted them, eh? You just omitted the body of the letter, that's all. You've just left out the body of the letter, that's all. Yours is not to reason why, Jamison. You've left out the body of the letter.
  • Blazing Saddles: Taggart and Lyle callously leave Bart to die in quicksand. After Bart gets out, he prepares to hit Taggart over the head with a shovel.
    Taggart: [dictating] Send a wire to the main office and tell them I said... [Bart hits him over the head] Ow! [falls unconscious]
    Lyle: Send wire, main office, tell them I said, "Ow". Gotcha.
  • In Romanian film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, a grocery store florist shares a story of someone requesting a ribbon on a floral arrangement that says, "Rest in Peace" on both sides and getting a ribbon that says, "Rest in Peace On Both Sides."
  • In Brazil, a secretary is seen typing everything she hears. As she works for a Torture Technician, that includes screams of pain.
  • In Hot Fuzz, Sergeant Angel and Officer Butterman pull over Martin Blower, an actor who was speeding to get to the community theater on time. Angel takes note of Blower's statement and makes clear that he is doing this, even writing down Blower asking twice in exasperation to stop writing.
  • Discussed in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where there is a carved message from Joseph of Aramathea: "He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the holy grail in the Castle of Aaauuuggghhh..."
    Brother Maynard: Well, that's what it says.
    King Arthur: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't have bothered to carve "Aaaauuuggghhhh". He'd just say it.
    Sir Galahad: Maybe he was dictating it.
    King Arthur: Oh, shut up!
  • In SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods, Steve, an enchanted pen found in the Rock of Eternity's library, will dictate everything when tasked with writing a letter, whether it was supposed to be included in said letter or not. When the Daughters of Atlas read one such letter, they're utterly confused when presented with the various tangents in it.

  • Some guy was buying a birthday cake for his friend with a unisex name. The cake vendor asked two subsequent questions: "What should it read on the cake? And by the way, what gender is Alex?" "'Congrats'. Oh, and Alex is a man." Thus did the cake come out with CONGRATS - ALEX IS A MAN.

  • In Auntie Mame, Mame hires Agnes to transcribe her thoughts for her book. Agnes does it so well she even transcribes people asking Agnes why she's writing so fast.
  • In Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, Ms. Ribble makes every student in her class write goodbye cards for her retirement by copying the poem she wrote on the chalkboard, which ends with a "Write your own name here" fill-in. Most of the students are shown copying verbatim the "write your own name here" part.
  • In the short story "Riddle me this" by Christopher Anvil, the protagonists are trying to sneak into an alien base. Their ship's computer translates their communications to and from the aliens, but prints out all the formatting directives with the text rather than acting on them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alas Smith and Jones had a sketch where a criminal is cautioned that "anything he may say will be taken down and may be used in a court of law". The criminal then starts saying (deadpan) "What are you doing, officer? Please stop hitting me. Ow. Ow." as the police officer dutifully writes it all down, looking increasingly worried as the monologue goes on.
  • Dinosaurs: In "And The Winner Is...", every child is named by the Chief Elder in a ceremony, which is transcribed by a bureaucrat who just blithely writes it down. This is why Baby Sinclair's name is briefly "Aaugh Aaugh I'm Dying You Idiot." Fran mentions that she had a cousin named "Achoo" and a classmate named "Burp Excuse Me Siegelman".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In "Biggles Dictates a Letter," Biggles tries to get his secretary to not take his dictation when he is wearing a pair of antlers, but as one might expect, things quickly spiral out of control.
  • In Parks and Recreation, this happens in "The Trial of Leslie Knope" when Leslie reads one of Ethel Beavers's transcriptions.
    Leslie: Mr. Traeger: That was beautiful. I'm literally crying and jumping. Crying noise, crying noise, nose blow.
    • When Leslie runs for city council, she attempts to get campaign signs made, but when she sends the sign maker an image link for the signs, he assumes the URL is a series of characters meant to go on the sign.
  • Used for Black Comedy in an episode of Robin of Sherwood, when the Sheriff of Nottingham reads out a transcript of a witch being interrogated under torture in a deadpan monotone, complete with cries of agony.
  • One Rory Bremner sketch has Alistair Campbell dictating a report on Iraq's weapons capabilities. Tony Blair sticks his head round the door. "When will that report be ready?" he asks. "In forty-five minutes," Campbell replies, unaware that the typist is transcribing those words into the report.
  • Superstore: In "Color Wars", Glenn and Dina are supposed to get a cake for the winning team. They end up arguing in front of the person who is writing the icing, so their entire argument finds its way onto the cake.
    Icing: "Congratulations." Got that? No, not "Congratulations. Got that?" Just "Congratulations." No, I don't want you to write "Congratulations. Got that? "No, not 'Congratulations. Got that?' Just 'Congratulations." What do I do here? He doesn't know English. He's just transcribing phonetically. Well, what language does he speak? You hired him. That's why, if it was up to me, I'd fire half the staff. No, don't put that on the cake.
  • This is a Running Gag in the parish council meetings in The Vicar of Dibley. The super-pedantic parish clerk Frank Pickle will frequently note down things literally, e.g. "Then Mrs. Cropley said nothing."

  • In the Irwin Shaw play Bury The Dead, a doctor is dictating autopsy notes to a stenographer. While examining the last body, after seeing that part of the man's face has been blown off, the doctor comments, "You'd be a pretty sight for your mother, you would." When the stenographer reads back the transcript, that comment is included.

  • The Nonadventures Of Wonderella: In this comic, Wonderella, as a superheroine who frequently dies, attempts to inform her sidekick about how she'd like her gravestone to look. Unfortunately, Wonderita interprets the instructions as the inscription.
  • The Order of the Stick: When Durkon writes a letter home he writes it the same way that his dialogue is written to reflect his accent. When Roy points out that he doesn't have to do this, Durkon responds as though he doesn't even realize he is doing it.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: In "Murder Family," a billboard advertising I.M.P uses this as the punchline, implied to have been Blitzo sending a mangled text to the signmakers due to a text-to-speech mishap.
    Billboard: Goat an asshole in the living worlds!? Come to I am Pee!!!??! Make sure you put this sign on the rite side. Don't fuck this up. Also payment may take a couple weeks because it cums in the mail. -SPEECH TO TEXT- -Blitzo

    Web Original 
  • Cake Wrecks has documented an alarming number of supposedly professionally-decorated cakes with icing spelling out what appear to be either customers' exact words or written instructions:
    • Write "Welcome" on it
    • The #25 in Big Font
    • Happy Birthday Sara Minus H
  • Neopets: One of the periodic "Random Contests" for user-submitted content — #159, to be specific — had the objective of creating a magazine cover. They listed several requirements that submissions must have. One of the requirements was "Magazine Title (DURP!)", meaning that including a title really should be obvious. Many submissions, however, misunderstood and titled their magazine DURP!. Including two of the first-place winners.
  • Here on TV Tropes, this sort of mistake is where the Describe Topic Here inside joke came from. As "Describe topic here" was the default message for a blank article on the first version of the wiki software, many editors early in the site's life thought it should be included as part of the article as well.
  • The Onion: The article [NOTE: Do Not Run Until Fucking Queen Is Dead Or People Will Lose Their Shit] Queen Elizabeth Dead at 96". In addition to the headline the body of the article is riddled with editor's notes that have been apparently included verbatim rather than implemented.

    Western Animation