Sometimes translations are bad. And sometimes they pass bad at warp speed and crash headlong into the wall around the galaxy.
When a translation goes from odd word choices and stilted grammar that is still somewhat parseable into the realm of pure gibberishnote , you have a Translation Train Wreck. This is especially common in bootleg translations, where the "localization team" has little budget, less incentive, and may not even speak the language they're translating to. In the case of little or no knowledge of the target language, they may guess as to the meaning and structure of what they need or use a direct machine translation.
This often results in a Good Bad Translation, although these tend to apply more to generally okay translations with a few funny mistranslations.
Also compare My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels; Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas; and Intentional Engrish for Funny, where a fictional character manages to botch a language beyond all recognition. Also see Word-Salad Humor.
- A Hong Kong bootleg of Fullmetal Alchemist struggled quite a bit with phonetic translations. Perhaps not catching the theme naming of the homunculi, the English subtitles gave them rough phonetic approximations like "Rasuto" for "Lust," at one point resulting in Wrath crying, "Call me Lassie!" Winry's name proved to be less explicably difficult, usually rendered as an ever-evolving mash of nearly unpronounceable consonants. In a desperate attempt at taking a shortcut, the translator(s) tried to crib the translation of Edward Elric's title from the show's title card a gamble that failed with him introducing himself as "the Square Enix."
- A few gems from a Chinese-made English bootleg subtitle of Elfen Lied: The name "Mayu" being literally translated as "Cocoon". Sounds of crying being subtitled (as "hoot hoot"). A character randomly blurting "Take it all off!" And finally, police booming the instruction, "Come out with your pants down!"
- A Chinese bootleg of Baki the Grappler had this. For example, "endorphins" (the pain-numbing hormones produced by the body during stressful situations or exercise) is translated as "brain coffee".
- The One Piece HK subs, which contained such infamous lines as "I smelted the edge .. on the goog", "he dive like a crazy beef", "the cord's from your bingy", "shit of cockchafer?!", and "what shall we do? we can't break through the Hymen this way".
- There is a particularly bad Chinese bootleg sub of Mobile Suit Gundam. The subtitlers had no idea what was going on and seemed to have thrown in subtitles from an office drama. However, the subtitles, completely inappropriate as they were, still synched to the voices. The best example of this was Garma Zarbi plunging to his death at the helm of a burning bomber, shouting out "Merry Christmas!"
- Gundam has more than its fair share of hilarious subs. An HK sub of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam refers to minor character Katz as "Gryps" every time he appears. The problem here? Gryps is a place (and obviously one whose name sounds nothing at all like "Katz").
- A Taiwanese bootleg of Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society included a line that's become a bit of a meme in itself: "Even electronic brain pancake crystal elderly."
- Speaking of that series, "Are you aware of the Frequent Occurrences of Mass Naked Child Events within the country?" The fact that that particular fansub group blatantly violated a cease-and-desist order blacklisted them in most of the community, but the controversy would have been much more severe if people didn't already know they sucked.
- A HK subbed Mazinger movie set had a few amusing lines, like "Shirt this guy!", and the renaming of "Duke Fleed" to "Docashelado".
- In the TV series, we're treated to such gems as "Dr. Hill" and his crabstick (the term "crabsticks" has since become a synonym for unintelligible subtitles on 4chan's /m/ board), and Baron Ashura appropriately renamed to "Intersex."
- A fansub of one of the movies sees Kouji admonishing his brother Shiro with the words "Shilon, don't be a slapdash", and Baron Ashura responds to Mazinger with "Fuck you, madcap!"
- A rather hilarious fandub of Ranma ½. Mostly it's a case of "Blind Idiot" Translation, but there are multiple episodes where "Finagle" (Finagle's Law?) is literally every fourth word, and times where "Please leave me be, I want to be alone" is translated as "Don't poke it".
- The Hong Kong subs of Yu-Gi-Oh! are usually just a "Blind Idiot" Translation, but they venture into this territory at times. There are a few screenshots with subs on this page. Perhaps the best example is this priceless line from episode 64:
Yugi: "Marik had mentioned about silent puppy... Where is him?"
- The HK subtitles are full of flubs and blunders, but translating "Heart of the Underdog" as "Dignity of the Retarded" is probably the worst.
- The HK subbed Scrapped Princess had many memorable translation train wrecks, none as more so as the actual title to the series: "Trashed Cat Princess".
- The OVA for Psychic Force has a fan-sub that is not remotely useful as a translation. Not even characters' names are correct or even consistent.
- For Code Geass R2 episode 5, a group called WeWin released fansubs. They were a Translation Train Wreck that spawned such gems as calling Suzaku either "My Lord Jesus" or "Sir Tree", Rolo trying to get in touch with a "Big Eunuch", and "This is Government Area 11 IN A BUN!" More from this release can be seen here.
- There is a bootleg version of the second Pokémon movie movie that, among its many bizarre phrases, consistently translated the word "Pokémon" as "magical sonnies". The sixth movie received a similarly hilarious bootleg, where Pokémon became "Supernatural Magic Baby".
- There was an HK Sub of the last 2 Future GPX Cyber Formula OVAs which has such infamous lines as "Winds of Sand", "Rise and move out". The subs even managed to give some of the characters different names and give two unrelated characters the SAME name, then proceeds to give two different cars the same name. The subs renamed Bleed Kaga whose actual first name is Jotaro, "Gelly."
- The notoriously bad Gravitation bootleg featured gems such as "You are being the son of the bitch".
- The Omni Productions dubs of the early Transformers anime shows need to be mentioned owing to this notorious line: "Fortress Maximus has come himself."
- Not to mention Spike being "Sparkle", Blaster being "Billy", and Metroplex being "Phillip", among others. Plus most of the cast sounds like Davy Jones.
- Something strange has happened. Now there are two Optimus Primes!
- The Chinese bootleg of Triton of the Sea translates octopi as "Big wacky fish" and sharks as "rabbitfish". Mermaids are "nymphs" and lobsters are "langoustes".
- This translation of the last battle of YuYu Hakusho between Yusuke Urameshi and Yomi has odd sayings like "It's empty in the brain Feel so good" and "The two people appeared in the same time". Oh, and Yomi's name translated is "Work hard".
- It wasn't just the final battle that was translated poorly. That clip from the Yusuke/Yomi final battle is from a twelve disc bootleg version. All twelve discs are translated in that fashion.
- When Dragon Ball Z Kai first aired, the first fansubs released were noticeably bad. It had gems like Vegeta referring to the scouter as "drug", or telling Frieza that he will "not stop till you okay". Bulma also seems to like using "That Thing" as a swear word.
- Fortunately it eventually got an official English release, but for a time only the HK DVDs were available for Star Ocean EX. They're an interesting case, as there appear to be two translators. Some episodes are very high quality, and even seem to have knowledge of the game's English translation. But the majority of them are this trope in spades, barely even being comprehensible in some places.
- The Gag Fansubs for Musashi Gundoh don't even pretend to make sense, sometimes even just taking the original Japanese and making Memetic Mutations out of it (e.g. "hime" being regularly translated as "He-Man".)
- The official British blu-ray release of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, which is notoriously filled with quotations from wide variety of famous and obscure sources ended up being a complete train wreck, where the translator inexplicably thought that Batou making an anecdote about Decartes treating a doll like a human being was talking about himself, not an 18th-century French philosopher, among many other oddities that make the subtitles almost Dadaistic in their random absurdity.
- The subtitles made by Dreamworks for the original American release were more accurate, but due to containing typos, some grammatical errors, and cues for the deaf, they came off as this to fans used to the far better work done by Manga on Stand Alone Complex.
- Toei Animation has this habit of producing English subtitles for some of their shows in-house, not proofreading them or having a native speaker check them over, and then requiring licensors to use them. It happened most infamously with ADV Films' abortive uncut release of Sailor Moon and Viz's release of The Prince of Tennis anime.
- The official subtitles for the first six episodes of Lupin III: Part II seem to have lacked a QC editor. Several lines, especially in the second episode (the one where they steal cash from the Maracana Stadium), look like they could have come from Hong Kong. Fortunately, all subsequent episodes are fine.
- A writer for the blog "Shinde Iie" discovered an amateur translation of the Fate/Prototype OAV. He stated in his review that an obscure fansubbing group converted the script from Japanese using Google Translate until it hardly resembled proper English subtitles. This resulting fansub includes several outright nonsensical lines like "By Help me... Father! </ Font>", "to an inability to... ordinary people", and "When my attendant had become futile any watchdog", and is just exactly what was indicated by the title of his review: "Fate/Prototype: A Beautifully Made Translation Trainwreck".
- One box set for Chobits did very well for all but the last few episodes, which go into Word Salad, probably because they were using their own translation instead of a fansub (evidence of the fansub group's logo shows up in a few places they forgot to remove it). It gets particularly hilarious when they go into the recap episodes and we see Hideki being labeled as a "metamorph" instead of a "pervert".
- One version of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children in Japanese actually got rid of its first, stunningly incompetent English subtitler, and brought in a new, even more incompetent one halfway through. Both Kadaj and Denzel immediately change their names to "Cardan" and "Texar" and stay that way for the rest of the movie.
- Vagabond: if you only read Vagabond online, you'll get this eventually. Volumes 1 to 21 are scans of the official English language books, so the translations are of high quality and done by professionals. However, starting with volume 22 the chapters you can read online are scans from the Japanese books or from the Japanese magazine where Vagabond is serialized, with the translations done by amateurs. Though somewhat tolerable during the first volumes, later changes in translation teams make it progressively worse the more the story goes, to the point that the Post-Yoshioka arc is completely unintelligible and impossible to read (especially during the philosophical conversations between Takuan, Itakura, Kōetsu and Musashi, and in the scenes with the Hosokawa government officials). Luckily, the translation team that takes over at the Farming arc is much better, and the story becomes understandable again.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld fic Strandpiel, a better-educated-than-most witch admits she never really learnt all that much Quirmian, because she couldn't get past that odd thing about her aunt having feathers. note
- Elsewhere, Pessimal freely admits to having used an online translator for those languages of which he has no knowledge whatsoever - isiZulu, for instance - and expressed a fervent hope he was getting it partway right, should there be any Zulu readers of his works out there.
- A Chinese bootleg of The Princess and the Frog, while not too bad compared to others, had difficulties with the accents of various characters - Ray's 'Y'all from Shreveport?' was subtitled as '1, 2, 3, 4'.
- There is a Shrek bootleg that had subtitles that look like the movie had been run through William Shakespeare, in the writing style, anyway. And it was brilliant. As an example, the mentioned bootleg refers to Lord Farquad as "Lord Fire Squad" in almost every instance.
- This version of Foodfight! found by YouTube personality, Cr1TiKaL, is embedded with some extremely misinterpreted and inaccurate subtitles, that can only be occasionally deciphered as having first been translated into Finnish then back into English by someone with a very poor grasp on the English language.
- When Bollywood movies are given English subtitles, there often seems to be a tendency for the translators to write the subtitles in excessively formal English. Thus, the characters onscreen will be cool, casual young people who seem to be talking in the most formal way possible, when in fact they are actually talking casually. The relaxed, casualness of many characters' dialogue apparently gets lost in translation very often.
- Star Wars: There is a bootleg copy of Revenge of the Sith with subtitles that skip bizarre and start off in the Twilight Zone. The dogfight dialogue appears to be about prostitution, a stolen piano, and a bath tub. It gets worse.
- In another bootleg of the same movie (now titled Star War: The Third Gathers: The Backstroke of the West). The subtitles were machine translated from Chinese into English, and the results are nothing short of hilarious. This bootleg is pictured above.
- Most notably, the Big "NO!" became "Do Not Want", which was the former title for this trope.
- Most of the character names are ruined: Anakin Skywalker becomes Allah Gold, Obi-Wan Kenobi becomes Ratio Tile, the Jedi Council becomes the Presbyterian Church, and Count Dooku becomes "The".
- The F-word appears a few times: R2, do you is fucking", "Do you fuck on I?", "This is what who fuck?"
- Funnily enough, Yoda's lines sound like things he would actually say.
- A few examples of the most spectacular nonsense lines:
Anakin: Giving first aid, the already dishevelled hair projection. (Well, someone needs to get Anakin a comb and some shampoo...)
Fighter pilot: He is in my behind! (the actual line was "They're all over me")
Obi-Wan: Like, reach the man, good good good let us counterattacking.
Count Dooku: You are a sacrifice article that I cut up rough now.
Battle droid: Superior, they have escaped a day after the fair. ("General, we have found the Jedi.")
General Grievous: [responding] I should really feeds you all dog. ("Activate the ray shields.")
Palpatine: They are just a flock of to fish for fame its person.
Obi-Wan: Disabled person must solve. ("Only a Sith deals in absolutes")
Obi-Wan: I was old. ("Always on the move...")
Obi-Wan: This is what who fuck! ("Who could have done this?")
Anakin: Ratio Tile, the wish power are together with you. ("Obi-Wan, may the Force be with you.")
Anakin: Only guarantee my Cuckoldry the safety. (Anakin is begging Palpatine to help him stop Padmé's death. The text was changed to a request to protect fatherhood towards an illegitimate child. That, or Padmé has been cheating and Anakin approves.)
- "I have the high ground!" became "The geography that I stands compares you superior!"
- "You are already at full cock now."
- Obi-Wan and Anakin keep referring inexplicably to the "elephant", who apparently is good.
- For the truly curious: "good elephant" (好象) is a homophone of the Chinese characters for "seems like" (好像). This is just one example of why word-for-word translation is an epically bad idea.
- And then there's a dubbed version.
- In a minor quibble, everything from a starfighter to a giant space battleship is referred to as an airship. Even the Escape Pod, which becomes the "first aid airship".
- Imgur user "fegelein08" has run all the other Star Wars movies through a similar process, including The Phantom Menace (now The First Gathers: Ghost the Threat), Attack of the Clones (now The Second Gathers: The Duplicate Offensive), A New Hope (now The Fourth Gathers: The Novelty Desire), The Empire Strikes Back (now The Fifth Gathers: The Counterattack Collection), Return of the Jedi (now The Sixth Gathers: Hopeless Situation Return), and The Force Awakens (now The Seventh Gathers: Files are a Sober Force). Reddit user Achaewa contributes to the fun with The Last Jedi (now The Eighth Gathers: The Final Hopeless Situation), and Reddit user Nightsteed finished the saga with The Rise of Skywalker (now The Ninth Gathers: The Emergence of the Weather by the Rows). All of them now have their own trope page.
- The same translator(s) responsible for Backstroke of the West got their hands on another two films in the summer of 2005:
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) had Jane Smith variously renamed as either "Chien" or "Jean". It also changed the codeword Jane uses with a contact (just before meeting John for the first time) to the rather more amusing "Do you fuck here?"
- War of the Worlds had a grinning Tom Cruise tell his son early in the film, "Play baseball with me, otherwise I will kill you." Cruise also reacted to his daughter's abduction by screaming "Not, not, not want!"
- Napoleon Dynamite became Napoleon's Explosive.
- Rocky Balboa... or "The Is Strange Shell Wave," as the title character is now called. In this version, Rocky is apparently not just a boxer and restaurateur, but also a pimp, and the announcer's "Let's get ready to RUMBLEEEE!" is swapped out for the much blander "We open now."
- Back before The Avengers came out on DVD, there was a bootlegged copy floating around with wonderful gems such as Loki being renamed "Rocky" and the Tesseract being called a Rubix Cube. A favorite, however, is this one:
Loki: Tell me what you need.
Hawkeye: I need bait... and eyeliner.
- A Chinese bootleg of Bad Boys II has a lot of random "Damn"s scattered around, an instance of "Do Not Want", "I love your father", and many more hilarious butcheries of the original dialogue that don't belong in any sense of the movie.
- A bootleg copy of the musical Chicago had rather odd subtitles, such as "I will be a loaf" and "Some guys just can't hold their ass in it".
- The captioner for District 9 got a little confused by the Afrikaans words dropped into mostly-English dialog. When Wikus sees a prawn gnawing on a tire and yells "Voetsek!" ("Scram!"), the caption reads "Food sack!"
- Harry Potter:
- Screenshots from a Japanese bootleg of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Or, should we say, Harry Potter and Zahafuburaddopurinsu. The name "Hedwig" is always translated as "Angry Inch".
- An equally hilarious Chinese bootleg of Goblet of Fire, featuring such oddly named characters as Khalifa, 61516, and Lunduidu Sha MA Maxim. And this one of Order of the Phoenix, likely from the same people. Both translate Azkaban as "marriage". Al Bundy would approve. The Phoenix one manages to translate "I" as either "France" or "the French" and "it" as "hypothermia", resulting in the line "Hypothermia should be fun."
- The Prisoner of Azkaban ended up with a perfectly accurate subtitle script... for the Dolph Lundgren movie Detention.
- Screenshots from a bootleg version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets have popped up. In addition to butchering everyone's names horribly, the bootleg inexplicably renders the words "Muggle" and "Mudblood" as "Melon" and "Petrified" as "Stoned". Lord Voldemort's name is also turned into "Fodi," which in the Chittagonian dialect of Bengali translates into "arse." This would be bad enough by itself, but leads to an absolutely jaw-dropping moment later in the film when the phrase "I AM LORD VOLDEMORT" is written on-screen in huge letters, with a small caption reading "I am Fodi" underneath it. Clearly some translators don't know when to give up.
- One of the earliest Russian dubs of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, known as the "boat and musicians" dub, was done like this. It is highly likely that the translation was done by ear, and many of the stranger aspects of the dub could be chalked down to mondegreens. Despite the nonsensical nature of many lines, voiceover actors perform quite professionally.
McGonagall: Good evening, Professor Dolmondore. Are the prophecies coming true, Elvis?
- The aforementioned nickname comes from the exchange between Dumbledore and McGonagall from the very beginning:
Dumbledore: The Professor himself said that. Boat and musicians.
- Privet Drive becomes Private Drive.
- Many characters' names were also corrupted: in addition to Elvis Dolmandore, we have uncle Wally (Vernon Dursley), aunt Tuna (Petunia Dursley), Lombash (Neville Longbottom), Drinko Malforey (Draco Malfoy), Germania or Moni Kranger (Hermione Granger), Higert (Hagrid) and Fanny Kyuch (Madame Hooch).
- Hagrid introducing Harry to Diagon Alley with "Welcome, Harry, to Die-Da-Da!"
- Draco commenting on Ron's look: "Ginger, disheveled... you must be from a village?"
- Hermione's spell to fix Harry's glasses is "Achilles and all that".
- The stone itself is inexplicably guarded by a snake. Likely a mishearing of Snape.
- Hally Porter and a Magic Stone sees The Philosopher's Stone get the full-on Backstroke of the West treatment, complete with hilarious subtitles in the form of blog commentary.
- This subtitle script of Home Alone 4. It seems almost Shakespearean.
- One bootleg of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom contained subtitling errors that, while pretty minor compared to other examples on this list, are still pretty amusing. For instance, the vase the Indy finds at the start of the film is referred to as being from "Mong's Dynasty," Short Round became "Shoot Ground" and the Kali-worshipping Thuggees became the "Sacky Cult," who we are told made human sacrifices in the name of "Colly."
- A Chinese bootleg DVD of Ip Man 2 is flooded with subtitle errors, some of which are ridiculously bad. A few notable ones include calling Ip Man "Leaf Question" (The characters are "葉問" and do translate literally as such), and another scene where the subbers apparently just stopped caring and substituted "fubu fu" for another line. Of course, Hilarity Ensues.
- Somehow in the Indonesian subbed version of Live Free or Die Hard, there are always references to the non-existent soya-bean cakes. This is caused by the words 'know' and 'tofu' being a homonym (tahu) in Indonesian.
- Several bootlegged versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, again made famous through screenshots posted on the Internet — for instance, these taken from The Two Towers.
- The bootleg sub creates a Hilarious in Hindsight moment when Sam asks Frodo◊ "Why so serious?"
- "Bring your pussy face to my ass!"
- The bootleg subs for The Fellowship of the Ring are a little more coherent, but still contain plenty of errors. Most bafflingly, any mention of Isildur's name is erased, resulting in Sauron supposedly being killed by another guy who also happened to be called Sauron, and the person who failed to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom being said to be either Elrond or Legolas at various points in the film. On top of that, both Aragorn and Legolas claim to be "heir to the throne of Condo."
- Similarly, The Return of the King got a translation that was generally somewhat coherent, but still marked with the occasional screw-up. Perhaps the biggest one was that all references to Gondor were instead changed to "Gandalf," thus changing the scene where Gandalf explains to Pippin the history of the White Tree of Gondor into one where he appears to be bragging about how the city named a tree after him.
- The Hobbit managed to get its own rather interesting translation. One bootleg of The Desolation of Smaug managed to somehow make it that, rather than promising Azog Thorin's head, Sauron promises (to give) him head.
- Parodied on the Special Edition DVD release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which has subtitle options in several languages, in addition to the fake-Swedish "møøse" subtitles during the opening credits (which cannot be turned off, as it would ruin the gag). One set of subtitles is labelled "Subtitles For People Who Don't Like The Film" and consists entirely of lines from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2. It's occasionally thematically related to what happens on-screen... sort of.
- The English subtitles of the South Korean Slasher Movie Record give us gems like "You are nothing but a Hell kite!" and "Everybody die not long time".
- In a Chinese bootleg of the film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the children are on a raft whilst leeches are approaching. However, the Chinese subs have them screaming "The Lychee Trees are coming!"
- There's a bootleg of the first Spider-Man movie that's full of horrible subtitles, but the most inexplicable was when Osborn's line "Forty thousand years of evolution and we've barely even tapped the vastness of human potential" was translated simply as the word "Change."
- Speaking of Spider-Man, there's also this bootleg of Spider-Man 3 with such characters as Peter Pa Gram and Admire Rui. "You is really a papaya," indeed.
- And he seems to want someone to take Zhao somewhere...
- And the cheering crowd saying "How do you do."
- "You are personal residue." "At once fuck off."
- "You of the clothes hurriedly take off."
- And of course, "Peter wants to kill us."
- Speaking of Spider-Man, there's also this bootleg of Spider-Man 3 with such characters as Peter Pa Gram and Admire Rui. "You is really a papaya," indeed.
- Similar to the below-mentioned Star War Gatherings, someone ran the official Chinese subtitles for some of the Star Trek films through Google Translate. This resulted in Star Adventures II: Sweaty Anger (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), where Khan has been inexplicably renamed "Jane", he is apparently now a Young-Earth Creationist, and StarCraft comes up in conversations frequently. Star Adventures '09 (Star Trek (2009)), which depicts the Federation under attack from a gang of angry Star Wars fanboys, and Star Adventures: Diablo Unbounded (Star Trek Into Darkness), which has an odd focus on cross-dressing and Kirk constantly voicing his wish to kill Spock.
- In a Japanese edition of Sukeban Deka: Codename = Asamiya Saki (otherwise known in the West as Yo-Yo Girl Cop) the English subtitles seem to have been generated by attempting to translate the individual words directly into English, including the names. The seemingly meaningless phrase "of temple" keeps recurring in the dialogue — as a translation of Asamiya, the heroine's family name.
- A bootleg of Van Helsing translated "It's carnivorous... about 360 pounds, 8 and a half to 9 feet tall..." as "It has 360 feet. Go to carnival."
- "How long has it been? Two, four hundred years?" was rendered as "How long has it been since we fled Hambling Hills?"
- A simple search of dialog online turned up a copy of X2: X-Men United made much more introspective by adding the subtitles to Amélie.
- A bootleg of the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie that circulated in the Portuguese-speaking market back when the film was in theaters featured subtitles that were half word salad, half (presumably correct) Dutch terms - and the two halves were not mutually exclusive whatsoever. This resulted in many of the already nonsensical, obviously random assemblages of vaguely accurate Portuguese words meant to 'translate' the characters' dialogue being made even more impossible to decipher by a random Dutch term being thrown into the word salad every now and again. It had to be seen to be believed.
- A Malaysian translation of one of the Spider-Man movies (the trilogy with Tobey McGuire) apparently used Google translate as a short cut, resulting in some of the subtitles taking things a little too literally. For instance, here's Spider-Man introducing himself as a civilian:
"''Nama saya Peter meletak kereta." note
- Pedro Carolino's English As She Is Spoke. For those who have never heard of it, it's a Portuguese-to-English phrasebook that was written by someone who did not speak English, using a Portuguese-to-French phrasebook and a French-to-English dictionary. He apparently had an extremely limited knowledge of French as well. In other words, Carolino was using a language he barely understood as a middleman for translating into a language he didn't understand. The result, needless to say, is quite unintelligible, and hilarious to English speakers.
- The mainland Chinese translation of the Harry Potter series contains many mistakes, as detailed here, with some lines being translated to the exact opposite of the original meaning.
- Similar to the above is the book How to Correctly English in Hundred Days, from the Correctly English Society of Singapore.
- There is a book for sale on Amazon entitled How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?. The only intelligible English in it is the stunned responses from the author's equally word-blender Usenet posts.
- Andrew Bromfield's otherwise elegant translations of the Erast Fandorin novel series from Russian into English adopted some awkward titles for the eighth and ninth books. The original Russian titles directly translate to Mistress of Death and Lover of Death, respectively. However, in English, they were published with the awkward titles She Lover of Death and He Lover of Death.
- Striking and Picturesque Delineations of the Grand, Beautiful, Wonderful, and Interesting Scenery Around Loch-Earn by Angus McDiarmid is a strange case of this trope being combined with Purple Prose to form a glorious verbal trainwreck. Intended as a guide for visitors to the southern Scottish Highlands, its prose (apart from the opening dedication) is almost totally incoherent and full of obscure and misused words. This is mainly due to the fact that McDiarmid's native language was Scottish Gaelic, and in translating his work into English, he used a dictionary extensively, picking the most impressive word without taking into account its part of speech. In addition, it is also suspected that the author may have been attempting to emulate or even surpass the work of Samuel Johnson, to whose writings he had been introduced by the local church minister.
- Many of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks hid certain information by means of alphanumeric codes where you had to convert the letters in an answer into numbers in order to find out which section you had to turn to. Other popular tactics included riddles, numbers hidden in a character's name (such as Ifor Tynin's name clueing you in to the relevant section), and acrostics. When the books were translated into other languages, in many cases the translators did not bother to preserve the information and just converted everything directly. Hence, the alphanumeric codes would end up pointing the reader to a completely different (and irrelevant) section, or the hidden information would be completely lost, rendering the book totally unplayable.
- An infamous one in the tokusatsu fandom is the Hong Kong subs of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger The Movie: Full Blast Action, which rendered a villainess' "Scorpion Whip" attack as "Scorpion Penis". The phrase instantly became a minor meme within the fandom.
- On this subject, the HK subs for Hurricaneger vs. Gaoranger translated the name of Gao Red's Gao Mane Buster as "Gao Main Bastard". It's become a joking insult in the fandom.
- An HK sub of Kamen Rider BLACK RX has the villains searching for "the strongest queer guy" and the eponymous Rider referred to as "Black Superman".
- And nearly a decade later, we had Coolguy!
- Really, when it comes to tokusatsu, and especially Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, HK subs can always be counted on to provide enough laughs and Drinking Games to last for years.
"If you don't like Korea, then go to the hell."
- The Japanese automotive video magazine Best Motoring was released in Hong Kong around 1999-2000, with butchered English subtitles.
- One of the episodes of the 1994 season of Catchphrase when it airs on Challenge airs with a subtitle track taken from another episode. As you can imagine, none of the answers match up, as well as the subtitles being horribly out of place with the actual dialogue.
- In-Universe: Monty Python's Flying Circus has the infamous "My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels" Dirty Hungarian Phrase Book.
- Also in-universe, in the 4th season NewsRadio episode "Super Karate Death Car", Jimmy James has his autobiography Capitalist Lion Tamer, which bombed in the USA, translated back from Japanese after unexpectedly it becomes Big in Japan. The result: a book entitled Monkey Business Donkey Wrestler that is filled with this trope.
- An in-universe example of this occurred in the Christmas 2010 episode of Only Fools and Horses prequel Rock and Chips, "Five Gold Rings". Freddie Robdal told Joanie Trotter a French phrase roughly meaning "I am enjoying this food" while driving her home. Joanie then repeats this at the Trotters' dinner, and while it remains vaguely recognisable, she totally butchers the grammar and syntax of the phrase. The young Del Boy overhears this and thinks he'll impress his new girlfriend's parents by telling them the phrase, but mangles it even more and instead ends up telling them about how he enjoys a certain sexual position.
- This rather hilarious collection of screencaps from a Stargate Atlantis bootleg. "Defendoofs"!
- In-universe in Bones :
- Hodgins runs Arastoos Farsi love poetry through an Internet translator and gets one of these. One line is You are my carburetor.
- In The Prince in the Plastic, Angela is trying to assemble a baby walker with directions like this. She gives up and says shell go back to the store and pay them to do it.
- As anyone who watches Stuart Ashen's bootleg knockoff stuff can probably tell you that this happens a lot with Shoddy Knockoff Products, whether on the product itself or in instructions for use. One violin toy was so badly translated note that he ended up Corpsing uncontrollably and had to redo the episode; in said redo, he deemed the in-flap description as "the motherlode of Engrish."
- The instructions (or rather, instnutions) for a particular Chinese top promise that it will "inspire children's thacghts" and "touch off the latent energy of scientific knowledge". It claims to be "diggicult" but still "enyoyable" and "Deep individually the friends welcome." "Deep" indeed.
- Similarly, one Tumblr user purchased a sandwich slicer from China.
Using method: Ready to slice sandwiches and stuffed, in the middle of two sandwiches into a stuffed, hundreds die in a sandwich press, take off the broken edge and die, a lovely delicious sandwich snack is ready.
I bought a sandwich cutter from China and I think the translation on the package is a bit off. It got real dark real fast.
- If you get one of those plastic puzzle balls, you'll find a small sheet of paper with instructions inside. The instructions refer to breaking the ball as "decomposing", and the section on how to break it reads "TO DECOMPOSE: EASILY THOUGH IT INTO THE FLOOR HAVE FUN." It only gets worse from there.
- A Dragon Ball toy — a motorized figure with a propeller hung from a ceiling mount to look as if it's flying — has instructions that can only charitably be called English. Some examples:
With appertain rotor of screw setting pre ceiling on the under standing that screw no wield. May wield two-faced, pressboard securing, wield pre to begin wiping ceiling of bilge dasto.
Prythee no sport with stingy or play asperity game. Winding finger have got bloodstream not wallk. Throagh of peril.
Till the cowcomes home. Wield toys damage,burn-in prythee wind to a close wield.
Not trust for tad batteries lest in advertent eat off. In the event of accident without loss of time plythee pillroller tuke order with.
May pre house the seamy side volitation!!!
- A vegetable peeler found in certain cheap-goods shops in Portugal features some rather hilarious Engrish on the cardboard backing it comes packaged in. Highlights include an out-of-context mention of a 'princess' while instructing buyers on how not to use the peeler.
- The Engrish Eurobeat cover of TM Revolution's Hot Limit (We Drink Ritalin). As with most English-language covers of J-Pop. The major problem here is that the songs are often translated (and often literally) from Japanese and then given to groups that can barely speak English to perform. In this case, the group John Desire were Italian and had a barely passable grasp of the English language.
- The Japanese vinyl of the single "Stranger In a Strange Land" by Iron Maiden has hilarious translation errors on the lyric sheet, especially the rap part of "The Sherriff of Huddersfield".
- Japanese samba/pagode band Grupo Y-No became known on YouTube for their songs with lyrics supposed to be in Portuguese. Its songs, most notable "Querido Meu Amor",note has lyrics that apparently were translated from Japanese to Portuguese through an automatic translator. It's really funny to listen when you understand the language, but the band's songs is actually pretty catchy.
- Juno Songs did this as an April Fool's joke for the Hole Punch's song.
- The memetic Kirby fansong "1, 2, Oatmeal" owes its So Bad, It's Good nature to this issue. The song is an English version of the German original, poorly translated in a way that is both overly literal and sacrifices a lot of the original information. For example, the bizarre non-sequitur of "1, 2, Oatmeal" works out to be a lot smoother in German, where "two" and "oatmeal" actually rhyme ("zwei" und "haferbrei").
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Official material often features exceptionally badly translated or declined Latin. This possibly moves into being a Justified Trope, as the various forms of the Imperial Language ("Gothic") may not actually be Latin ("High Gothic"), English ("Low Gothic") and Old English ("Proto-Gothic"), this is simply how Studio materials "render them" (or rather, to a standard Imperial citizen, High Gothic sounds the same way Latin does to a modern English speaker). Certainly, in the game world, Low Gothic is essentially a linguistic splodge of real-life languages, principally Spanish, English, Hindi, and Mandarin, and "Proto-Gothic" is simply a different form of Gothic to the one that is in widespread use where the story is set (ten thousand years worth of background includes linguistic shifts, after all). It is ambiguous whether or not High Gothic is supposed to be Latin, however, and the Imperium still apparently uses the Latin alphabet.
- An in-universe one is the Space Wolves, whose tendency to put "wolf" into every proper noun is apparently caused by overzealous scribes butchering the translation from Fenrisian (a Slavic-ish language) to Low Gothic; for instance, "Jarl" becomes "Wolf Lord" and "Thane" becomes "Wolf Guard". "Space Wolves" isn't even their real chapter name, it's "Vlka Fenryka" (Wolves of Fenris). The Space Wolves themselves don't mind, as they deliberately play up their wolf-worshipping Barbarian Hero image in front of outsiders.
- Vampire: The Masquerade has, among many others, the infamous Palla Grande, a Sabbat ceremony. They tried to translate "Grand Ball" (in the sense of a great and formal dance event) into Italian, but instead of "Ballo", the Italian world for a dance event, they took "Palla" the Italian word for "ball" in the sense of a spherical object.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! CCG cards have some poor language, both official cards and fake ones.
- If you know where to look, you can buy 150 cards, including rare ones, for around $1.50. Unfortunately, the English on the cards is sub-part to say the least. You tend to get this all the time with counterfeit cards, which is surprising, considering most of the cards you'd get were translated to English anyway and the counterfeiters could have just copied the wording of the official cards.
- Winged Dragon of Ra might read "Magic Dragon with wings [Legend beast junta] Fairy is sing. Powerful strength is charging the world that maens all the life, ghost so much as skeleton."
- Let's not forget "Black cows magician" instead of "Magician of Black Chaos".
- A limb of Exodia is named "Sealed Leet Feet"?
- Even the OFFICIAL, real product is sometimes not spared from this.
- The famous Spell card Giant Trunade is literally supposed to be Giant Tornado. The translator mistook "torunedo" for the name of the tornado instead of the much more simple and sensible English word "tornado".
- Another card like this is Fushioh Richie, the "richie" part is supposed to be "Lich" (as in, the type of undead).
- And in other times you can tell that the translator just plain gives up and doesn't care anymore, thus intentionally making it a train wreck because he/she doesn't know at all what to put. We end up literally having a card called Magical Something, whose original name is simply "Magic Absorber" in katakana.
- The issue with Yu-Gi-Oh! translation in general, is that Japanese people LOVE puns and wordplay. One Japanese word can mean something else entirely different just because a kanji/kana character is replaced with another that sounds the same. The new "Sentouki" archetype is a good example of this, as the "Sentou" part means "battle", but is written with the character for "flashing sword". The TCG branch gave up again after seeing the wordplay and just call the archetype outside Japan "Sky Striker Ace".
- If you know where to look, you can buy 150 cards, including rare ones, for around $1.50. Unfortunately, the English on the cards is sub-part to say the least. You tend to get this all the time with counterfeit cards, which is surprising, considering most of the cards you'd get were translated to English anyway and the counterfeiters could have just copied the wording of the official cards.
- Telefang was only ever released in English as a pair of bootleg games known as Pokémon Diamond (not to be confused with the authentic Pokémon game called Pokémon Diamond released alongside Pokémon Pearl) and Pokémon Jade. The translation leaves quite a bit to be desired. For just two examples:
- One character, apropos of nothing, shouts out "It must be sedge!" in the midst of a dialogue due to the translator confusing sugei (awesome) with suge (sedge).
- A character originally known as "T-Fanger" is translated into "T-Mildew"; the translator apparently having mistaken "fanger" for "fungus".
- There is evidence that Telefang was first bootlegged from Japanese to Chinese first, then from Chinese to English, which accounts for the horrid translation.
- Final Fantasy Tactics skirts on this trope, especially in the tutorials: "Select the Job command that bundles up the Action Ability by the Job in the unit's sub-command". It also introduces creatures named "Cuar" (coeurl) and a dance named "Wiznaibus" (with knives).
- Dragons attacking with "Fire Bracelet" deserve a mention. Virtually every instance of the word "breath" in the game somehow got translated as "bracelet" instead. This results in such gems as an Assassin skill that strangles the target for a One-Hit Kill being "Stop Bracelet", and the Malboro (a recurring Boss in Mook's Clothing monster in the franchise) having its signature attack (breathing out toxic fumes that can inflict every status effect in the game) rendered as "Bad Bracelet".note
- "I didn't think the God made holy stones but... more evil... well... Lucavi made them to land in this world." Sorry, what? Given the context (a Zodiac Stone had just raised someone from the dead - and not as an undead monster), the real line is something like confusion that a stone thought to be evil could perform a good act. How it came out like this is a riddle for the ages.
- "No DRG for party, camp spot site with 30 dmg, but is it for 20 like 30 dmg when you no hit be it for dd, for 30 dmg instead? or half is 10 for 20 dmg?" This question was asked on an English Final Fantasy XI forum by a presumably Japanese poster, years ago. It has since taken on a life of its own, with recurring parodies and even short movies around the catch-phrase. (DRG is the abbreviation of the Dragoon job, but the rest makes no sense.)
- Someone once bought a supposedly undub version of Final Fantasy X on ebay, but ended up with a So Bad, It's Good bootleg version. Some examples:
I think Walter* is a good egg.
I am happy that Walter wants to arouse me.
Oh no. How can we be so free at the very time? hey!
Oh, at last we know nothing.
Hey grandpa, are you a chick?*
You are a romping guy.
I, Simon Chubby* am here as an individual.
- The Spanish localization of Final Fantasy VII seems to have been done by people who had never seen a Spanish word in their lives before, using Babelfish. It includes awkward cut-and-paste translations from English ("partido" for "party" instead of the correct word, "equipo"; in one point they tell Cloud his party is upstairs - as in a celebration, not a group), stupid censoring (Tifa owns a "storage room" instead of a pub), brain-melting statements ("Flowers don't grow in Midgar, but, for some reason, flowers do"), grammar errors a 5-year-old wouldn't make (such as simultaneously referring to Aeris as a boy AND a girl - "eres una niño muy especial") and plain spelling errors ("menç" instead of "menú"). And no, it's not a fan translation, it's the one Sony officially sold in Spain. Screenshots can be seen here.
- The PS1 translation of Final Fantasy V is generally a "Blind Idiot" Translation—poor and spiritless, but understandable. Until you get to the transliteration of monster names: YBurn for Wyvern, Carlboss for Karlabos, and Dingleberry for Tonberry, among other gems. There's also the fact that 'Sarisa' is rendered as Salsa, and Faris' pirate accent is so terrible that it Narms up every scene she's in.
- This LP of a bootleg version of Pokémon Crystal Version.
- "Pokémon" becomes either "ELF" or "MONSTER".
- [NAME]! DRUG BAG FUCK.
- AN ADEPT ARRANGING FOR MOTHER: VOLCANO BAKEMEAT!
- HUGEBALL BALL FUCK!
- WE GAINED OUR MONATERS FROM GRADUATE SCHOOL!
- I Am a Monster...COACH.
- WEI! YOU CAN'T THROW THE BUTT CASUALLY!
- Crystal: Bing Translator Edition is an intentional "remake." Amazingly, it's even worse. Much of the text is still in Japanese, "Escape Rope" somehow translated to "Dumbass," and after you beat the first gym someone calls you and says "There was an error deserializing the object of type String." The word "detergent" keeps popping up for no apparent reason, the Cut HM is described as "Slash the enemy with pickles!!" (and most other TMs and HMs are totally incomprehensible)... you get the idea.
- Going back one generation, we have this translation of Pokémon Green:
Aochider: It's our first meeting! Welcome to the world of pocket monster! My name is Aochider I was called. Dr PET was loved and esteemed by us all!
Mother: Oh yes!...Boys should go out to travel whenever he likes! H'm! It is said in TV! Dr. Aochider living in next door came to call you!
- Continuing with the Pokémon theme, a YouTuber known as "Kevinhend" is posting a co-commentary Let's Play along with another YouTuber known as 'Catydoll409' on a badly translated pirated version of Pokémon Sapphire (Nicknamed Pokémon Crapphire). Watch it here.
- Pokémon Quartz was written by a teenage Spanish otaku in Gratuitous English, which he didn't speak fluently, with parts in Gratuitous Japanese, which he didn't speak at all. To top it off, the bulk of his jokes are either mocking cliches, or things that are taken for granted in Spain but unknown to English-speaking audiences.
- A Taiwanese unlicensed developer known as Vast Fame made some surprisingly good, if obscure, bootleg games for Game Boy. Unfortunately, though their programming may have been good, their English proficiency left much to be desired, as is evident in the following:
- Digimon Sapphire (GBC)
- "Want to do not be this imbecile to can't harm you also to is stayed come down."
- "I and Chiar is from small grow up together of greengage bamboo hobby horse!"
- Pokémon Ruby (GBC):
- "However become a basic term that grow the teacher, Is to acquire incumbent grow the approbation of the teacher"
- "My Simuda reachsed to enjoy your this type of person most. However light meeting top the hero is nothing doing!" (said by Simuda)
- Digimon Ruby (GBA):
- "Live in the human and digimon of this place to support mutually, each other it have no power, did war, to us, the figures world probably to is we many the year make track forto look for of fantasy paradise!"
- "What select inside of child I regardless!! Do you have method let me can return the original world??"
- Digimon Sapphire (GBC)
- Monster Go! Go! Go!, a Pokémon-themed bootleg/sprite hack of Smurfs' Nightmare on the Game Boy, makes the unfathomable decision of replacing the intro text scroll explaining the story with...Meowth giving a rendition of My Heart Will Go On from Titanic! It's made even more baffling by the fact that the images in the intro aren't changed at all - so you end up watching a badly-drawn Pikachu wandering around the Smurfs' village while his rival Pokémon serenades him with a romantic ballad!
- Advance Guardian Heroes is wrought with odd and overly literal translations. The opening, in particular, will make absolutely no sense to anyone who hadn't played the original.
- Pathologic had a notoriously bad Russian to English translation, but the one for the game itself didn't rise to the level of this trope. It was sometimes confusing and bizarrely worded, but you could make out enough to play and at least somewhat follow the story; moreso for the Bachelor than the other two, but you still wouldn't be utterly lost. The one for the manual on the other hand... well, the first paragraph is :
According to the world statistics quantity of population on the planet comes to 6 bln. It witnesses of an extreme density of population and as a result of natural resources shortage. At critical point there turn on natural mechanism of population limitation. Natural cataclysms and outrages of new, unknown before diseases prove the said above.
- It doesn't get any better from there. Luckily, the Classic HD version has a much better translation.
- "How are you gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us." Zero Wing was revived from obscurity by its incredibly Engrishy intro cutscene (which can be seen on the game's page), creating some persistent gaming catchphrases and still benefiting from the Watch It for the Meme effect. For Great Justice!
- The Arcade game Big Fight: Big Trouble in the Atlantic Ocean is a standard Beat 'em Up where you must: aboard the Confidentially Developed Battleship SKELTON CREW that snarl at secretly on the Atlantic Ocean to stop a Mad Scientist before he Give fear of death to pìty human! And this is just the introduction!
- Pump It Up NX Absolute's mission mode was quite messy, with typos and misspellings ("Portion items", "Engergizer") and other downright bizarre goals:
Select the biggest Velocity at last and Do Not step the Misses more than 10.
Need Rank B or higer and collect all the Portion items to Clear
- Stuart Ashen's had his fair share of this.
- He reviewed a particularly hilarious and incomprehensible LCD handheld called "Retieval Mankind's Batman."
- He also mentions something called Chanticleer Hegemony, which actually has him burst out in giggles upon finding it on the back of a knockoff handheld games console. God only knows what it was trying to say in the first place, but apparently it was a variation of the game known as Street Overlord... with chickens. Logically, the designers were trying to join the idea of a game about fighting chickens with the name of Street Overlord, and got Chanticleer (the name of a famous rooster) Hegemony (a concept of leadership or dominance, tangentially related to the concept of control, much like the word "overlord"). Doubles as a Word Salad Title.
- The Ace Attorney eroge doujin game Phoenix Drive is more famous for its bad translation than its erotic content in Western countries:
Oh snap!!! I do not hear such a truth!?
I will beat a rod till...a tank empties.
- SNK's Arcade Game Athena had a flyer◊ with both Japanese and English text. The one complicated sentence was garbled into English as: "Knock down Cat's paw of Monarch Dante with weapons appearing one after another."
- The Civilization V expansion Gods and Kings apparently suffered an unusual case of a train wreck translation. The leaders in the game generally speak in their native language or a modern-day relative. The leader Attila of the Huns is supposed to speak the Chuvash language (one theory being that it's the nearest extant relative of Hunnic) but whoever did the translation into Chuvash clearly didn't speak the language fluently, resulting in nonsensical grammar. This is exacerbated by the fact that the voice actor seems to be even more unfamiliar with the language, using very odd pacing and pronunciation. The fact he was supposed to be speaking Chuvash wasn't even obvious to Chuvash speakers and it took a bit of time for them to decipher the intended meaning behind his speech.
- Dedactive Eventa 1, a Point-and-Click Visual Novel-type... "thing" made by an Iraqi dev team. You click on revoltingly MSPainted globs of pixels which supposedly represent objects and people to try to somehow advance in the, erm, "game" only to be treated to dialogue that is completely and utterly incomprehensible. Words cannot describe it, you must see for yourself. It's so messed up that, as the video link shows, it singlehandedly brought Lowtax's Let's Play channel out of retirement.
- The Talos Principle: The Polish and Italian translations of the game had major translation issues on release, which Croteam chalks up to "unfinished/wrongly exported localization files." They are working quickly to resolve the issues, to their credit.
- As a proof of concept, translator Clyde "Tomato" Mandelin (of Mother 3 fan translation fame) developed a Final Fantasy IV translation hack by running the original Japanese version's text directly through Google Translate. The original dialogue is written phonetically in kana, rather than using kanji; machine translation is notoriously bad at dealing with this, since Japanese has so many homophones. As one might expect, the results are hilarious.
- Terraria: Prior to 1.3.5, the Spanish version had a bad translation regarding the NPC quotes, but it got particularly bad with the NPC arrival message. Apparently the translators just copypasted the Goblin Army warning, and completely failed at it (yes, they couldn't even copy and paste right), because the NPC arrival message read as "(name of NPC) de duendes," which literally means "(name of NPC) of goblins". Fortunately, with the overhaul of translations with the 1.3.5, nowadays it's much better, with only some examples of "Blind Idiot" Translation here and there — most complaints are currently from Latin Americans who see themselves Separated by a Common Language (as the translation uses European Spanish).
- The initial NIS America localization of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana was "Blind Idiot" Translation at best, but digging deeper into the text and it becomes this trope, with an egregious amount of redundancy ("I-I was actually a medical student..."; "A medical student...?"; "That's a student who studies medicine."), nonsensical nomenclature ("Ancient Species"), and blatant name/term changes when there were perfectly good ones from the original Japanese source ("Archeozoic Big Hole" from "Crevice of the Archeozoic Era"). It's little wonder fans were in an uproar and complained directly to Ys developer Falcom, leading to the head of NIS America apologizing for the localization, ordering a complete re-do of the whole thing.
- Book of Mario: Thousands of Doors is an intentionally bad Google translation of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where Mario journeys across the land and gathers the Crystal/Christian/Glass Stars while a Great Offscreen War lingers in the background. Its prequel is equally zany.
- The localizations of Warcraft 3: Reforged, especially in China, gained notoriety for being absolutely full of mistranslations and gibberish lines. As an example, the conversation between Muradin and Arthas about the cursed runeblade Frostmoune is now about wielding the power of eternal stupidity and being fucked by elephants (the latter of which Arthas agreed to). It really must be seen.
Uther: Arthas, you have made a decision that a father horse could kiss.
Malfurion: Foul demon! What have you done with my underwear?
- In late January 2021, Tabletop Simulator added support for multiple languages, complete with a full localization into each one supported by Steam... using Google Translate. The results were predictably incomprehensible. For just a few examples, Go usually ended up being rendered as the dictionary form of the verb "to go". In the French version, "Jigsaw" was translated as "Scie sauteuse", which means "jigsaw" as in the power tool. In the Japanese version the "No" in a Yes/No prompt became "number". The list goes on and on.
- If you live in Russia or any post-Soviet country, you maybe remember translations made by pirates. In the late '90s and early 2000s, piracy was in most cases the only way to distribute games, but because only a few Russians knew English at the time, pirates used either machine translators or dictionaries to translate the games word-for-word, which almost always resulted in incomprehensible gibberish. The most famous example is Fargus Multimedia, a now-defunct "translation" company that is near legendary for its awful translations.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas became famous in Russian internet culture for its hysterically awful translation. Caesar can call CJ a "carbon fiber" and say "Cool the fuck" instead of "chill out". The "Wasted" screen is translated into "Spent", while "Busted" is translated as "Broken".
- The PS1 version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has a notoriously bad bootleg translation which became subject to memes in mid-10s. It even became a namesake for the Pufkeinnote scene, dedicated to sharing other hilarious translations from russian pirates.
- The bootlegs of Sonic the Hedgehog 's Dreamcast-era games are incredibly infamous for this, and have spawned a lot of memes within russian fandom.
- Sonic Adventure bootleg is full of hilarious lines, but one of the most famous is "Look at this Flying Boot, it's my Egg Carrier!". "Yaikin", a literal translation of Eggman's name, is also hilarious if you are a native speaker. The translation became more popular after Russian YouTuber Sienduk made a series of videos with highlights from it.
- Sonic Heroes is also rich with humorous bloopers. In fact, it was this game, not "Adventure", that brought more attention to Pufkein in its early days.
- Sonic Shuffle is turned into a trashy 18+ comedy with swear words and dirty jokes. When standing on a certain space, Lumina tells you that "you will be sent into Anus Distant Lands". In another instance, she says, "Nature is so beautiful. Respect the nature, for fuck's sake."note Meanwhile, Wizard Eggman is translated as "Sucking Wizard".
- Pu·Li·Ru·La is a very strange game with a silly, but understandable plot—if you live in Japan. The English translation is so laughably bad that it renders the entire game borderline incomprehensible. One of the better examples is a rescued villager telling you that the next town over "is so head that no persons can live in". When entering a desert, another NPC tells you, "We are also troubled with no rain. A fellow called 'YU-YU-' sucked up all rains." A flash flood is kept from entering another village because "as the time of this town stopped, no rain frowed in."
- Happens In-Universe in Jackie Chan Adventures when Tohru, who normally translates Chinese for Uncle, is rendered unconscious and Uncle tries to translate the Chinese phrase for an ingredient required to defeat the Monster of the Week by himself but only comes up with gibberish like "shoelace of giraffe" and "lobster wearing corduroy pants".
- Surprisingly, this is infamous enough to have been parodied: the 2007 [adult swim] April Fool's Day gag involved 'bootleg' versions of several [adult swim] shows.
- One excerpt of Legends of Metru Nui has some humorous "translations" which are pure "Blind Idiot" Translation. The use of a "plate launcher" becomes more amusing when you realize the film's rendition of Kanoka disks look somewhat like dinner plates.
- YouTube's hilariously inept autocaptioner is a source of fun for many My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fans, and one character (the flamboyant river serpent from the second episode) was named "Steven Magnet" solely because of this. That name is now official Hasbro canon. Here is the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Filk Song "Lullaby for a Princess" done in this manner. Highlights include "Look out on her kingdom and sigh" becoming "The U.K. seems to sigh," and "Safe upon your bed of moonlight" being rendered as "A trusted partner in bed".
- In-Universe example from King of the Hill: Peggy is portrayed as a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, specifically thinking she's an expert in Spanish, speaking the language fluently. This is exemplified in the episode "Lupe's Revenge," when after she returns a girl she accidentally smuggled into the U.S. the day before, she's put on trial for kidnapping and Hank convices her lawyer to let her give her testimony in Spanish. Roughly translated Peggy said:
"Your honor, I can tell you are a reasonable horse. I am very pregnant because of what happened with Lupe. She ate my bus accident and all I wanted was to make Lupe into a book. I have too many good anuses ahead of me to spend my life in a cigar factory."note
- It works, and the judge rules Peggy was too ignorant to understand what was going on, and declares her not guilty. And in traditional Peggy Hill fashion, she immediately mistranslates the Judge's verdict as "Guilty"!
- The sketch 'A Wicked Deception' by blamsocietyfilms makes fun of this to hilarious effect.
- Sinfest has a Scandinavian fan site of Monique in-universe. What exactly they had to say about her remained on the other side of the web-translator.
- One Jewish joke has a man trying to translate the Hebrew sentence "Tisal katal imrati" (may my speech flow as the dew). He ends up with "It shall be swollen... like a mountain... my mother-in-law" and defends his translation with Insane Troll Logic.
- CDZA's "Fresh Prince: Google Translated has the troupe's creative director run the lyrics of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song through Google Translate 64 times. It has to be seen to be believed.
- The Cracked video Cooking with Babelfish parodies Babelfish via this. Following the poorly translated recipe goes so disastrously that not only is the resulting food inedible, but a fire starts and destroys some of it.
- The creepypasta It Will Get Worse is written in a way that gives the impression that it was written in another language then ran through Google Translate with hilarious results.
- MMA fighter Enson Inoue got some... very special subtitles in his post-fight interview at the Vale Tudo Japan 97. "Woe for me, woe! Again the agony! [...] Look such things as dream are made on, phantoms as of babies... Horrible shadows, that a kingsman's hand hath marked with murder [...] See they hold them up, the entrails upon which their father fed!" It looks like some captionist at the TV station had read too much H. P. Lovecraft or something.
- Attempts to create Gratuitous English T-shirts sometimes reach unbelievable levels of incomprehensibility ranging from "The pig is full of many many cats" to things that are barely recognizable as an attempt at English, such as "Heed no do permited to going THE PERSON Temmby woroing terrislylastly."
- Invoked by Google Translate Sings, where various songs (mostly Disney) are put through several layers of Google Translate, then sung to the original tune.
- Stuart Ashen once found a t-shirt from Hong Kong, which was meant to be a tribute to Steve Jobs. Said t-shirt reads "For Stevev Jobs. Just Long. Evcryone has i cercion cdeal. his idcal detceraninst his ottort and judgment of direccion."
- The packaging for the Cornelius Special Edition of the Columbia GP3 phonograph is littered completely with these, as shown in this Techmoan video. Sporting nonsense like Blind with invisible mad flavor from CORNELIUS, Skelton Ape and the fan favorite FART FUN!, as well as philosophical questions like Am I artform? I dont know!, and a packaging made of 100% recycled peppernote .
- Ever used an online translator such as Babelfish to translate a web page or large block of text between two languages with very different grammatical structures, that also include slang or figures of speech? Yeah. Good luck dissecting the result, because while most of it may be accurate enough to make sense of with some effort, there will be many bits of complete and total gobbledegook that will leave you absolutely baffled.
- For extra fun, try translating the same piece back and forth several times. A few iterations will usually be enough to reduce it to complete nonsense. There's a website called Translation Party that does exactly this, via Japanese. It's quite hilarious.
- Latin is very often one of the first languages to go horribly and irreparably wrong. It is very obvious to teachers if you have been using translation software on it. For example, the English sentence "I went home and I lay down on the couch to happily read poems, drink wine, and eat grapes," is properly translated into Latin as "Ivi ad domum et recumbi supra lecto ut laeta legem poemas, ut bibem vinum, et ut edem uvas." Google Translate's old algorithm gives the Latin as "Domum meam pono toro feliciter legant et carmina vino et comede uvas." This in English comes out as "My house I place for couch luckily they lay and songs for wine and comedy grapes." The grammar isn't even remotely correct. (The new algorithm gives "Et abiit in domum suam et proiciens se in lectulum corruisse, ut feliciter legit libellis biberent vinum, et comedite fructum.")
- Frustrated fans of Japanese-only visual novels sometimes make use of automated tools to extract the text from the game and feed it into babelfish like translators. Good luck making any sense of the results.
- Google Translate installed a new translation algorithm in December 2016 based on a neural network. While it improves on the old one in general intelligibility, it performs worse in some areas (word choice, mangling numbers) and occasionally spits out complete nonsense like the number 0 repeated dozens of times. In particular, due to the way neural network-based translators work, one sees mistakes that wouldn't have arisen with more traditional algorithms, such as confusing a character and their voice actor (seen in Google Translate), or repeating the translation of the previous sentence (seen in DeepL). They also tend to be less consistent when the same sentence comes up multiple times in a text.
- The English word "Does", when used in a question ("Does this work?"), is translated into Hebrew as Ha'im. Another Hebrew word, Ha'em, is spelled exactly the same way and means "the mother". This once caused an international incident.
- Two Taiwanese brothers opened a restaurant in Brazil called "Hetien". How to promote it? Creating a Facebook page with hilariously bad translations of Mind Screw yonkoma strips created by themselves. The comics' "plot" is basically a random character eating a random food, and later eating the foods of the restaurant, always yakisoba, tea and açaí drink, in that order. Like this. Literal translation below:
- The description of each post on Facebook with those "comics" probably tries to tell the viewers to share the post, but ends up saying "please pass slowly."note
- Fire extinguisher sign says "Hand Grenade".
- Thanks to the United States' large Hispanic minority and membership in NAFTA, it is common to find Spanish translations of English text in products, government forms, signs, etc. However, the quality of the translations varies drastically. An example: the packaging for a set of name-brand computer speakers translates "Full range drivers for crisp and realistic sound reproduction" as "Conductores repletos avanzados de gama para la patata frita y la reproducción sano práctica"— that is, "Advanced stuffed drivers of range for the french fry and the practical healthy reproduction". The gender for "healthy" is incorrect (it should be "sana").
- Nobody's really sure if it was a troll or a spam bot or some poor sap with a bad translator, but a now-famous post from 4chan consisted of "LOL at the screenshot! Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?" The thread was instantly derailed.
- People think he meant "Has anyone else really decided to go that far in wanting to be more like", or "Has any other company gone this far to make a game look realistic?"
- Not a translation per se, but YouTube's "Transcribe Audio" function for a long time was only able to generate Transcription Train Wrecks, with some rare occasions of being correct. Later improvements have reduced this tendency somewhat.
- The transcriber seems to think that everything and anything is related to American politics.
- raocow's Let's Play videos are wonderful examples. His commentary is already a surreal string of Breathless Non Sequitur with a hint of French-Canadian accent, but once the subtitles try to transcribe it, it's like you get two videos in one.
- Turn on the transcribed captions on the video version of Quarter-Life: Halfway to Destruction, and the line "Bad guy from the game said" becomes "John McCain said". You laugh, you lose. What's even funnier is that "Gordan Freeman" becomes "Good morning Andrea", "This is Gordan Freeman" becomes "This is Morgan Freeman", and the enemy headquarters doesn't go to the Atlantic Ocean, but rather Gordan pushes quarters into World War II.
- Thickly-accented, fast-talking, slightly lisping Irish comedian Dara O'Briain produces some interesting ones, too. His voice is understandable to any English speaker but seems to confound speech recognition software.
- James May: "This is the Ferrari 458 Italia" becomes "this is a lot of poets the ferrari four fourty-five exam".
- Watching this video of someone getting a strike in Mario Party somehow got out "what really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really". In a part where there was no speaking whatsoever. It's the sound of the shell sliding down the lane. And Mario's "woo-hoo!" was transcribed as "overruled".
- Similarly, an acapella cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, which really consists of "do do do" over and over again, results in "he hasn't been hispanic data tennis player bloom", "institution international terrorists all right thanks ralph" and "status tuesday national champions". The captions have since been "updated". They now think the video is in Russian. Adhering to the spirit of the trope, translating the captions into English gives some sort of bizarre political commentary related to terrorists and Copenhagen, among other oddities.
- Transcribing episodes from the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic produced some oddities, leading a person to string them together in a vague sort of alternate plotline, showcased on a (now-defunct) blog called My Little Pony: The Armenian Democrat Conspiracy, involving bizarre marriage proposals and Pinkie Pie having connections in the Equestrian senate. One of the characters in the series, Steven Magnet, even got canonically named after a YouTube transcription error thanks to the fandom running with that as his name and Hasbro rolling with it.
- You'd think using transcribe audio would allow you to understand what The Ultimate Warrior says. Wrong.
- There's a video that collates every single time the word "pony" is used in the first season of My Little Pony. Putting audio transcriptions on results in quite likely the best thing to ever come out of the show.
- Scott Manley makes science and video game videos, but his Scottish accent and frequent use of scientific terminology appear to represent a worst-case scenario for the caption generator.
- When U.S. Acres cartoons in English were still on YouTube, the audio transcription transcribed the song lyric "Where do you wander?" as a reference to The Little Mermaid (1989), and had Wade offering himself to Aloysius as a sex slave rather than questioning his authority.
- The transcriptions can even appear on videos that aren't in English, but they can either be translated from another language or be interpreted from the original language into English. For example, a copy of the first episode of HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! (which had subtitles available in English) had Hime refusing to go to Iraq, and a Norwegian episode of Magic Adventures of Mumfie (with subtitles available in German) had, when translated into English, Mumfie saying that he shoots animals so that they can be turned into magic polish.
- Related to the above, this video, which showcases some of Accelerator's quotes in the Toaru Majutsu no Index PSP video game, which is in Japanese. "dat ass on engineer", indeed.
- This video of the Spanish dub of "Rubber Duckie" that, for some reason, has the automatic captions in Russian. Auto-translate them to English, and you'll get the most insane Word Salad Lyrics imaginable. (In case the caption system changes somehow, the "lyrics" are archived here.)
- The GamingGarbage/Video Game Abomination Broadcasting/Interactive Gaming Television Online Video Entertainment reprise of "Let's Play: "Trelyate"!!!!": "Let's Play: "Trelyate" According to YouTube's Transcript"
- The YouTube captions for this 2 part video game countdown are probably the best moment of a YouTube caption failing. The captions do not even make sense the slightest bit. Though this probably has to do with the fact that the countdown artist has a thick Finnish accent and the tons of characters in the countdown, but even so it managed to translate one single dialogue differently during the 15 times that it showed up.
- Someone had to add manually created captions to The Gaming Historian's video on third-party Game Boy Player alternatives because this video was somehow transcribed in Korean, resulting in Korean word salad mixed with Gratuitous English. Needless to say, trying to translate something to English that was already incoherent in Korean produces baffling and hilarious results - for instance, "The GB Hunter is identical to Datel's Game Booster" turns into "Afternoon I was healthy and I did not have a good maintenance", and "Oh god, the music" turns into "Seoul Yonhap News".
- The auto-generated captions for this video somehow manage to turn StephenPlays scatting along to the level completion theme from Kirby Star Allies into "Bhavana do but these give it a new bit did I but if you dip into that black eye."
- A class in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was once given in English as "Assyrian sawmills in Nepal". The intention was "Prisms of Ashurbanipal". Why? Prism and Sawmill are spelled the same way in Hebrew, and the name of the king Ashurbanipal could, if you split it into two words (and why would you?), read "Ashur" (Assyria) "b-Nepal" (in Nepal).
- The back of this DVD's description of Family Guy found in Vietnam (although it might have been made in China) hod olmost ovory word spolt with on "O" instood of corroct vowels like "A", "E", and "I", and then there's these lines:
Lois,the dohing mother who xan't figuro out why bor boby ron Koops trying to kill hor.*
Chris,tho boofy 13-year-old who woufdn't hurt a piy,unloss if londed on his hot dog.stewio,unloss it londed on his hot dog.*
And Brion,the rorcanc dog with a wit as dry as mortinis ho drinks.*
- Hanzi Smatter is a wonderful website tearing apart people who attempt their own translations into Asian languages, and then having the results tattooed onto them. At best, you have something tattooed on backwards. At worst, you find out that languages don't have a 1:1 mapping when the intended "hot ass" translated word for word is actually Chinese for "raging diarrhoea". Much hilarity therein.
- This Chinese menu has such delightful dishes as "The Sichuan's hair blood is prosperous"note , "The hexangular germ fries the cowboy bone"note , and "The elephant of Canada pulls out the clam stabs the body"note .
- There is a long-running website dedicated to cataloging instances of this where the target language is English called Engrish.com, which has collected a great many examples.
- The tendency of German to collapse noun-phrases into Ridiculouslylongwords causes problems with automatic translators. One such occurred around the year 2000 when the Babelfish translated the word "Redakteurin" (female redactor) into "document talking urine" (reden - to talk, Akte - file, Urin - urine).
- Controversy ensued when Manatee County, Florida got a lifeguard to interpret evacuation warnings into American Sign Language preceding Hurricane Irma's landfall. The county was apparently "in a pinch" when they asked him to do it, as he was one of the only people locally available and was apparently assured he wouldn't be needed when he voiced concerns over his ability to accurately translate emergency warnings. Unfortunately, they did end up needing him. His well-meaning attempts ended up giving deaf residents of the county such advice as "Pizza. Monsters. Help you at that time too use bear hug."
- In September 2022, FEMA needed to distribute fliers to Alaska residents following a recent typhoon, so they hired a company from California to translate them into the indigenous languages of Yup'ik and Inupiaq. But instead of the correct translation, the documents were filled with phrases like "Tomorrow he will go hunting very early, and will (bring) nothing" (with the word 'Alaska' randomly thrown in the middle) and "Your husband is a polar bear, skinny". One document was even written entirely in Inuktitut, a separate language spoken in Northern Canada, not Alaska.
- Many, especially earlier, mistranslations happened because there was no script or written transcript to work from, and the translation was just what some poor guy could figure out that half made sense (or not).
- A phenomenon especially in advertising where the boss's wife, nephew, or girlfriend studied some language for a while and is asked to translate, and nobody dares point out the mistakes, or hire a native speaker.