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Translator Buddy

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One character has a peculiar way of speaking that may be hard for other characters (and the audience) to understand.

The most obvious case is when the two main characters speak different languages, and have a Language Barrier. It can be a nice Bilingual Bonus for those in the audience that know both, but we'll need a third character who knows both languages to have some communication going on. There are many other reasons this could be: Maybe the Intellectual Animal can only say their own name, or mumbles everything they say. Maybe The Smart Guy plunges into Technobabble and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness when they get excited. Maybe the Cloudcuckoolander is just too crazy for the average person to understand. There's also a good chance you've been thrown into a Cryptic Conversation.

No matter why they're hard to understand, this would ordinarily limit their ability to function both in-universe and as a character. Thankfully, however, this character has a friend who will interpret what he's saying. This friend is the Translator Buddy.

This is a common way to show that two characters are close friends, as only the "interpreter" understands his friend so well. Whether they're distilling ten minutes of technobabble to two sentences in Layman's Terms, explaining what all those beeps and whistles the robot is making mean, or playing charades with their squirrel Animal Companion to get the scoop on the enemy's campsite, they can generally be counted on to clue to the rest of us in on what their buddy is trying to say. Hilarity and drama frequently ensue when even the Translator Buddy is stumped. The translator may also come with the guy that speaks the common language, explaining the foreigners to him. They can either be full-fleshed characters or just a Living Prop, standing there to translate during a certain scene and then forgotten.

A frequent lampshade is to have the person being interpreted respond with a befuddled "That's what I just said: {brief recap of technobabble explanation/phrase in an incoherently thick accent/Poirot Speak gag}"

This is one of the responsibilities of a Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Compare Mouth of Sauron, Voice for the Voiceless, and Repeating So the Audience Can Hear.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon, Rock acts as a translator when Balalaika is speaking to a Yakuza head.
  • Kaname can understand whatever Sōsuke is saying in his Bonta-Kun suit in Full Metal Panic!, despite the voice box glitch that makes everything comes out as "Fumoffu!". (In the anime, at least, this is explicitly due to a radio earpiece — she's not actually translating the "Fumo-fumoff-offu" nonsense.)
  • Camparri acts as this for his God of Destruction Mosco in Dragon Ball Super
  • Chamber of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet analyzes the Earth people's language within a few hours, and begins acting as a translator for Ledo. This continues for most of the show, but slowly drops off as Ledo himself becomes more competent with the language.
  • Kuroko's Basketball: Koganei serves as Mitobe's "translator". Mitobe is The Voiceless.
  • In Last Period, Kikazaru acts as one for Iwazaru, translating her unintelligibly muffled speech.
  • In Pokémon: The Series, Meowth of Team Rocket translates for all the other Pokémon, especially in episodes or shorts where the trainers aren't around for the day or where Ash and friends are forced to cooperate with the Team Rocket trio. Most of the time, though, he translates for the Rocket trio's other Pokémon.
  • The second arc of Shirobako gives this role to Ema Yasuhara for her junior Ai Kunogi, who is generally too shy to get past the first syllable of her sentences.
  • In YuruYuri, Nishigaki-sensei does this for Rise Matsumoto, who moves her mouth but can't be heard. Nishigaki-sensei will then tell the other characters what she said, or if they're by themselves will comment on whatever discussion they're having at the time.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Solomon Muto is able to translate the hieroglyphic tablets the group runs across.

    Comic Books 
  • Freckles Friendly is this to his little brother Peewee who is The Voiceless in the Richie Rich comics. Freckles always knows what his little brother wants, seemingly "translating" a mere Meaningful Look.
  • The children's educational magazine Muse had a talking crow who somehow interpreted a completely mute character.
  • In PS238, Prospero speaks only in a bunch of alien-looking symbols.note  His friend Angela can somehow understand the gist of what he's saying, which is acknowledged as odd In-Universe.
  • A variation is used in one story of The Simpsons comic. When Homer and Comic Book Guy are tried on obscenity charges thanks to some comics Bart bought, Homer's nerdy roommates from college are bought in to translate for the jury the geeky jargon Comic Book Guy uses. As it looks like Homer and Comic Book Guy are going to be found guilty and sent to prison, Bart, of all people, has the brilliant idea of having a jury of peers oversee the trial, since the people in the original jury had no idea what Comic Book guy was saying, and have no clue as to how the geek subculture works, thus were likely to be biased against comics books in general. The new jury comprised of nerds finds Homer and Comic Book Guy not guilty, since comics are protected speech, though they find Homer guilty of bullying the new jury and Comic Book Guy guilty of breaking some laws established under the United Federation of Planets, and sentenced to hold a sign above the entrance to a Fan Convention.
  • One of The Thing's common roles when Mister Fantastic slips into Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • Twisted Dark: One story has a cartel boss confronting his accountant, who he thinks is stealing money from him. The accountant doesn't speak the boss' language, so he has a guy speak for him. At the end, when the accountant reveals where he hid the money he laundered from his boss, the translator tricks the boss into killing the accountant so he can steal the money.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Marx Brothers' films, Chico translates for Harpo.
  • Accident Man: After Mac's jaw is broken and wired shut, his partner Mick is the only one who can understand his mumbling and translates for him.
  • In Dogma, God is The Voiceless — mostly due to her own voice causing all humans' head and hearts to explode.note  Thus the Metatron is the voice of God.
    Metatron: Everyone here who isn't dead or from another plane of existence would do their best to cover their ears right about... now.
  • Toyed with in Four Weddings and a Funeral, with Charles and his deafmute brother David. The time he has to translate what David says, it's when he acts as Charles's best man during his wedding to Henrietta... and objects to the union in sign language. Predictably, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Pseudolous, Butt-Monkey and Love Interest of the Gymnasia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. After meeting for the first time his love interest Gymnasia the Silent, a towering blonde amazon incapable of speech and expressing herself in oddly mismatched pantomimes, he reveals that her gestures are actually an highly organized form of sign language, and he's the only character of screen able to grasp it. Everyone else thought Gymnasia as incapable of expressing at all.
  • Hog Wild: Bull, the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang, speaks in incomprehensible gibberish, requiring one of his cronies to translate for him.
  • Police Constable Bob Walker of the Sandford Police Service in Hot Fuzz speaks with such a thick rural accent that Nicolas Angel needs other villagers to translate him — a task usually handled by Danny. However, isolated country folk are unintelligible to everyone but Bob, forcing a translation chain. Interestingly, as Angel gets more familiar with the town, Bob's dialogue becomes more intelligible.
  • In Instructions Not Included, Valentin relies on his daughter to translate for him, as he is from Mexico and doesn't speak English. This causes problems when the school authorities notice that she is missing school too often.
  • Life, Animated is about someone with High-Functioning Autism who uses the Disney Animated Canon as this to understand the world.
  • Used in Love Potion Number Nine. When the female lead, Diane, gets a sample of the Love Potion no. 8, she receives the power of a Compelling Voice, of a sexual nature and working only with the opposite sex. Upon entrancing a rich mook, to avoid the potential hassles of being chased, harassed or desired by every single man at her speaking distance, she cleverly puts the mook under the assumption she just enjoys "play the mute game", that is using a simplified form of sign language while in public, and letting him graciously act as her mouthpiece.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Despite Groot communicating exclusively through grunts and the phrase "I am Groot", Rocket has no trouble understanding him.
    • By Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it seems that nobody on the Milano has any problem understanding and communicating with Groot, as Quill can sustain a conversation with Groot just fine.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor is able to understand Groot after just meeting him. He says he took a class in his language "as an elective."note 
  • Richard and Joe do this for each other in Music Within. Richard who is partially deaf, can understand Joe but has difficulty hearing anyone else. Joe, who has cerebral palsy, can hear just fine, but other people find him hard to understand.
  • Played with in Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams.
    Lab Technician: This, smoke no. This, smoke yes.
    Noodles: Never mind that technical talk, Fu. He means that anyone who smokes that stuff will turn into one of these lizards.
  • Past Lives: Hae Sung's English is poor and Arthur's Korean is basic, so the Korean-American Nora translates between the two of them.
  • Mr. Cotton's parrot in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is something like this, even though Mr. Cotton himself doesn't speak at all (because his tongue has been cut out). Played for laughs in that the parrot speaks entirely in stereotypical pirate phrases like "Pieces of Eight" and Cotton's expression never changes.
    Jack: Mr. Cotton's... parrot. Same question.
    Cotton's Parrot: Rawk! Wind in the sails! Wind in the sails!
    Gibbs: Mostly we figure that means "yes".
  • RRR (2022): Ram is fluent in English, while Bheem is not. He acts as the go-between when he realizes Bheem is interested in the British Jenny, who can't speak Telugu.
  • Kyra in Sinbad of the Seven Seas has to translate her father Nadir's gibberish for Sinbad.
  • Star Wars:
    • C3PO does it for R2-D2, who is The Unintelligible in Star Wars.
    • In Return of the Jedi C3PO is temporarily the offical translator for Jabba the Hutt. Prior to C3PO translating for him, most of Jabba's dialogue came with subtitles.
    • Cornelius Evazan is this for Ponda Baba at Chalmun's Cantina in A New Hope. (i.e. "He doesn't like you!")
    • In several novels, Luke claims he has spent so much time with R2-D2 that he can understand most of his beeps.
  • There's a member of Robin Hood's band in Time Bandits who speaks only in growled gibberish. Whenever he says something, Robin turns to the guy's buddy for a translation.
  • In The View Askewniverse. Jay usually just speaks for both of them, but often he will "translate" The Voiceless Bob's more subtle hand gestures. It's worth noting that Silent Bob can speak... He just doesn't want to.
  • In When Evil Calls, Detective Nelson is the only to understand what his partner Detective Ringwald is saying, as Ringwald mumbles everything in a drunken slur while switching between English and French. Nelson usually summarizes at the end of Ringwald's rants; cleaning it up a bit in the process.


  • In The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, there's a magician named Telemain who speaks almost entirely in Magibabble, so Mendanbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, often winds up having to "translate".
    "It's a self-sustaining barrier produced by recirculation of the initial power input," Telemain explained. "Because of the rotation effect, most physical substances cannot pass through the shield in either direction. Unlike the majority of spells, this one needs no exterior energy source, so the usual procedure for dismantling such sorceries would be completely ineffective."
    "What does that mean?" Cimorene demanded.
    "The spell keeps itself up, we can't get in or out, and we don't have any way of getting rid of it," Mendanbar translated.
  • In The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp, twelve-year-olds Tyke and Danny are best friends. Danny has a speech impediment which makes most of his words begin with a D-sound and gets worse when he's upset. Tyke frequently has to translate his speech so others can understand it.
  • Although they weren't friends, the dwarves acted like this during Year of the Griffin. Headmaster Corkoran was entertaining a delegation of Roman senators and visiting dwarves at the same time, and the Senators' speech was so eloquent and convoluted that Corkoran couldn't follow a word of it until the dwarves translated.
    "And now he's offering you a bribe to snuff her," Dworkin said with a chuckle.
    "That is highly inelegant," Antoninus remarked.
    "But mostly accurate," Empodicles added.
  • A running gag in Jeeves and Wooster is that Bertie has to translate whatever Jeeves is saying for the benefit of one of his "pals", most of whom are fellow Upper Class Twits.
    "The scheme I would suggest cannot fail of success, but it has what may seem to you a drawback, sir, in that it requires a certain financial outlay."
    "He means," I translated to Corky, "that he has got a pippin of an idea, but it's going to cost a bit."
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: The goblins never speak like the other characters and yet Rufus can understand them.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun speaks only a few words of the common tongue of Westeros, so he needs wildlings who speak the old tongue to translate for him, usually Leathers.
  • Magical Girl Raising Project:
    • Lapis Lazuline in Restart is the only one who can easily understand Melville's slurred speech.
    • Pythie Frederica in Limited is the only member of her team that can speak both Japanese and English fluently. As such, she's the one that handles communicating with other groups when necessary.
  • Mira and Freko become this for each other (and each others' species) in Miras Griffin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The 10th Kingdom, Tony is the only one who can understand what Wendell (who was turned into a dog) is saying.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The comedy/magic duo Rebo & Zooty, played by the Real Life comedians/magicians Penn & Teller. Zooty doesn't speak but wears a machine that they claim translates his thoughts. Rebo usually interprets for him.
    • The Lumati Ambassador's assistant performs a similar role in "Acts of Sacrifice", speaking to Commander Ivanova on his behalf because the ambassador would suffer an unimaginable loss of face if he spoke to an inferior directly. He begins speaking to Ivanova directly once he feels she has proven herself his equal, and it is implied that his assistant is the savvier of the two.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Leonard spends much of his time translating Sheldon's sayings (and explaining his habits) to Penny and other strangers.
    • Also, in a way, there's Howard repeating out loud everything Raj whispers in his ears when there's a girl around since he's unable to talk to girls.
  • In Criminal Minds, Morgan sometimes acts like this to Reid when he slips into Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    Cop: You really think this was only one guy?
    Reid: The level of overkill indicates an UnSub in a psychotic break. Multiple Unsubs in violent psychotic breaks operating in the exact same location is exceedingly unlikely.
    Morgan: Yeah. It's probably one guy.
  • Doctor Who: In "Under the Lake"/"Before the Flood", Cass (who is deaf and doesn't speak) has Lunn as her sign-language interpreter. He translates her signing and occasionally translates what the others are saying if it becomes too difficult for her to lipread. When Clara tells them to split up, Cass quite understandably freaks out.
    Clara: Look, he'll be fine. I promise.
    Cass: [angry signing]
    Clara: ...okay. Didn't need anyone to translate that.
  • In Fringe, translating whatever Walter says into something that other people can understand is one of Peter's responsibilities as his father's caretaker/minder.
  • Key & Peele has the recurring sketch of Barack Obama (played by Peele) and his "anger translator" Luther (played by Key), with the former saying things in the President's famous mild-mannered professorese and the latter clearly and loudly expressing the anger and frustration behind the measured rhetoric. Luther eventually ascended and made an appearance with the real Barack Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
  • The I Love Lucy episode "Paris at Last!" has a famous example of this trope, involving a chain of translators. Lucy's been arrested due to a misunderstanding and needs to be interrogated by the sergeant. The sergeant only speaks French, and Lucy only speaks English. Fortunately, there's a lower-ranking cop who speaks French and German, a drunk tourist in another cell who speaks German and Spanish, and Lucy's husband Ricky speaks Spanish and English. The questions get translated down the line, then Lucy's responses get translated back up the line.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Trini is this to Billy. After Trini left the show, Billy lost the need for this, with the writers toning done his Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness along with his general nerdiness. He did the same for her, too. She presented a plate of squares from her gourmet cooking class, calling them by their given name. He instantly realized the snack contained snails.
  • McGee is sometimes this for Gibbs on NCIS whenever they have to deal with people speaking Technobabble. McGee also does the speaking for Tony when the latter is too hungover to put together coherent sentences.
    Tony: McGee... say words...
  • Officers Smitty and Hoppy, a black and white cop team, played this role for each other on Sanford and Son:
    Lamont: [to Smitty] What's this dude look like?
    Smitty: [to Hoppy] Do we have a make on the suspect?
    Hoppy: [to Smitty] The suspect is a male Caucasian with no distinguishing marks or features.
    Smitty: [to Lamont] He's a white dude.
  • Sherlock: John does this a lot when he's with Sherlock. Oi. No wonder the guy's normal. His friend is - well, weird.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In the episode "Loud as a Whisper", Riva, a famous negotiator, is born deaf and mute (as are all members of his race's royal family). He has what he calls a chorus, three telepaths who speak for him, each one representing an aspect of his personality: Scholar/Artist, Passion/Warrior, and Harmony/Wisdom. When his chorus is killed, he is forced to speak by sign language. Data then takes on the role, due to his ability to learn and master five sign languages in a few seconds.
    • Geordi is sometimes the Technobabble translator for Data, less often it's the other way around. Worth noting with the Geordi/Data interaction in The Next Generation is that Geordi translates the Technobabble that Data gives to the rest of the crew and also explains the meaning behind various human behaviors and idioms to Data, which might as well be a foreign language to Data due to him being an android. Geordi essentially does double-duty in this role.
  • Switched at Birth: Daphne (who signs, reads lips, and speaks) somewhat operates as this literally for Emmett (who signs, apparently does read lips, but doesn't speak).
  • Kenny for Joey Lucas (who is deaf) in The West Wing. The one time Joey has a different translator is the time Josh wants to speak to her about something highly confidential. Since he doesn't know and hasn't vetted the new translator, they have to try to communicate without one. Joey can read lips and write things down if needed so she's not completely reliant on Kenny, and several of the regular characters pick up some sign language as they interact with Joey more.
  • Parodied in the second season of Holey Moley with Course Marshall Joe, who does this for Sir Goph in the Diving Range event. Sir Goph always scores each dive with a sign that has a nut or fruit on it, which somehow invariably means "4", as Joe shows by holding up that exact amount of fingers. The hosts conclude that this is the only number that Joe knows.
  • In 1980s CBBC continuity announcements, Philip Schofield was the translator for Gordon the Gopher, who spoke in squeaks. (Tie-in books would claim Schof was one of a handful of humans who knew Gopherese.) This continued when they both moved to the Saturday Morning Kids’ Show Going Live, although co-host Sarah Greene could apparently understand Gopherese as well. The role of puppet character in the continuity slots was taken over by Edd the Duck, who spoke in quacks, with Andy Crane and later Andi Peters acting as translator.

    Pro Wrestling 


    Video Games 
  • In Army of Two, the main characters occasionally need help from Hollywood Hacker S3kshun8, who apparently communicates only through Leet Lingo text, meaning it is up to longtime friend Rios to translate it into plain English for Salem. The Leet Lingo is actually quite tame, to the point a casual reader could easily figure it out, but it scrolls by so quickly it can be hard to catch every word if Rios didn't repeat them.
  • Bungo to Alchemist: Kawabata Yasunari is quiet as a stone and sometimes speaks in confusing metaphors, which leads his close friend Yokomitsu Riichi, who understands him incredibly well, to play interpreter for him.
  • Deadly Premonition: The initial purpose of Michael Tillotson's character is to listen to and repeat clearly the words of his elderly employer and adoptive father Harry Stewart, to point where his catchphrase is "So says Mr. Stewart."
  • Misha in Katawa Shoujo can and will translate everything to and from sign language when her best friend, the deaf-mute Shizune is around. And sometimes when she isn't around.
    • Hisao sometimes serves as this in Shizune's route, in which he learns sign language.
  • In Genshin Impact, Fischl's hammy, Purple Prose-laden dialogue is often simplified by her night raven familiar Oz.
  • Played straight in Mother 3 with Fassad and his interpreter shortly after the former falls off a building and is thereafter forced to communicate solely through horns.
    • He actually chose to speak only through horns after his reconstruction, but to the extent that it could be the only way he could communicate.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
  • Straynap, the Exposition Fairy in Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream, translates the MIS communication that Paffets use for the heroine's benefit.
  • Inverted in The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time. After Arthur downloads himself into your suit's Translator biochip, he uses it to both translate the native peoples' language in each time zone, and allow you to reply in the same manner.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Zaalbar (being a Wookiee) can't speak Basic or Huttese, so he relies on his Twi'lek pal Mission to do most of the talking. He's pleasantly surprised when he realizes the Player Character can actually understand him.
  • The Mario & Luigi games tend to have this with whoever the games' exposition fairy happens to be, considering how the titular characters tend to babble in vaguely Italian-sounding gibberish.
  • In Quest for Glory II, Poet Omar only speaks in poetry verses. He has an assistant that will "translate" for him when you talk to him, explaining what he means. When Omar is unveiled to be the Sultan Harun al-Rashid, the man doing this turns out to be his majordomo, who also speaks in his name during court. Al-Rashid can speak normally, he chooses not to as part of the Omar persona.
  • An odd case in Star Wars: The Old Republic in that the Wookiee smuggler Jakarro has attached the head of a protocol droid (C8-42) to his chest to act as a translator, but it doesn't stop the droid from trying to smooth over the Wookiee's rough manners, or interjecting some sarcastic commentary. When the droid realizes he's talking to people who can understand Jakarro, he is noticeably perturbed since it means he can't try to pretend his master wasn't saying something rude.
  • A few of the Puyo Puyo games feature a Frankenstein's Monster who can only speak in grunting. The frankenstein has a son who can understand him and translates it for other characters.
  • In Stray, the cat's Robot Buddy B-12 serves this role, being able to understand the language of the humanoid robots living within the city. That said, there are a couple moments when they are unable to help the cat communicate, all of which are dramatic and tied into the story:
    • The first instance is in Antvillage due to a Heroic BSoD from remembering they used to be a human scientist;
    • The second is when they're taken away from the cat and both (along with their ally Clementine) are put in jail; and
    • The last is they upload themself into the Control Room's systems to open the city to the Outside, sacrificing their drone body (which they damaged severely in hacking the systems' security) in the process.

  • In the third interlude regarding The Beast in Dominic Deegan: Dominic's mother speaks with a horned elf-like being riding a mouthless alien with a long, spiky snakelike body ending in five eye stalks, addressing the rider as Alduraithel, Archmage of the Fourth Circle. It's revealed (to the readers) at the end of their conversation that the rider was the archmage's translator.
  • In The Mansion of E, history reports that Penelope served as this for her husband, the super-genius Earl of E Ludwig.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom Rex Vunderdog apparently understands Inglish perfectly fine but is physically incapable of speaking it, being a dog, so he has a Babel Finch ride on his back and translate his barks and growls.
  • The main cast of Stand Still, Stay Silent may have a complex Language Barrier, but get past the part of it via Icelandic being the Common Tongue and the similarities between Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. Lalli, who only speaks Finnish, needs to rely on his multilingual cousin Tuuri to verbally communicate with pretty much everyone else. The problem is that Lalli is also quite quirky and Tuuri has trouble distinguishing between Tactful Translation and Translation with an Agenda.
    • Later, Emil starts learning Finnish to communicate more easily with Lalli. He eventually becomes the closest thing to this trope the crew has, after Tuuri bites the dust. He does manage fine, but is not quite fluent.
  • In Smithson, Selina has taken a vow of silence, but whatever she wants to communicate through glares and facial expressions can somehow be understood by Gemma, and only Gemma. Even funnier because Gemma and Selina hate each other; she's a Translator Buddy who is in no way a buddy.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the new Strawberry Shortcake stories, Blueberry Muffin does this for Longface Caterpillar.
  • Scarlett to Snake Eyes, who is The Voiceless, in G.I. Joe: Renegades.
  • Raf is the one who interprets Bumblebee for the other kids in Transformers: Prime. How Raf intuitively understands binary clicks just as well as he does English is not explained.
  • Alan is this for his brother Tom on The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan:
    Tom: One can only surmise that this establishment manufactures prestidigitation equipment.
    Suzie: Alan?
    Alan: This is where they make magic tricks.
  • Super Chief on The Funny Company speaks in nothing but train horn sounds. His partner, Broken Feather, translates.
  • Ruffled Feather from Go Go Gophers speaks in almost nothing but gibberish. He's actually the tactician of the group. His partner, Chief Running Board, understands him perfectly and translates for Col. Kit Coyote and Sgt. Okey Homa.
    Running Board: Oopie-doopie! You-um genius!
  • In the Dick Tracy cartoons, Stooge Viller acted as Mumbles' interpreter. In one short, Mumbles was being tried in court, but since without Stooge his testimony was virtually unintelligible, the case was about to be thrown out. Go-Go Gomez had to find Stooge and bring him in.
  • Ray is this to Egon in The Real Ghostbusters. Although Winston and Peter are sometimes able to figure him out.
  • On the TV series The Little Mermaid (1992), a deaf/mute mermaid named Gabriela had an octopus friend who interpreted her sign language.
  • In Hanna-Barbera's animated series of The Little Rascals, only Buckwheat can translate Porky's gibberish.
  • On South Park, people who aren't used to Kenny's muffled speech will sometimes need one of his friends to explain what he's saying.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Translating Twilight's often obscure technical talk into something other people can understand is part of Spike's job, but sometimes even he gets baffled by her explanations of things.
    Cloudchaser: What exactly does this machine do?
    Twilight: This is an anemometer. It measures your accelerative velocity and translates it into wing power, thus gauging your cumulative H2O anti-gravitational potential. Any other questions?
    Flitter: Yeah. [to Spike] What exactly does this machine do?
    Spike: It tells you how fast you're flying and how strong your wings are.
  • In early episodes of Kaeloo, Kaeloo had to translate for Quack Quack, who can only speak in quacks. In later episodes though, everyone else starts to understand him as well.
  • The Dogfather: In early cartoons, Pug had to translate Dogfather's speech to the rest of his gang, on the account of being very mumbled (parodying how Marlon Brando sounds in his movies). It was changed in later cartoons so that Dogfather can speak intelligible enough that no translation was needed.
  • Similarily to the above example, in The Goodfeathers shorts on Animaniacs, the Godpigeon speaks in a Marlon Brando-esque mumble that is uninteligible to everyone except Bobby, who proceeds to translate to the others.
  • In Care Bears (1980s), Secret Bear never speaks out loud and only whispers in Friend Bear's ear, so Friend Bear translates for him.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: Klunk speaks in sentences that alternate between regular words and weird vocal effects. Zilly is the only member of Vulture Squadron who knows what he's saying, so he translates.
  • Cool McCool: In the Harry (My Pop, the Cop) McCool segments, Tom has to translate Dick's mumbling.
  • The Dragon Prince: General Amaya is deaf and uses sign language, so her second in command Commander Gren acts as an interpreter when she needs one.

    Real Life 
  • People who are Deaf, Blind, or Mute generally require Interpreters to help them communicate with others since they can only communicate via non-verbal means like Sign Language, which most people won't be able to understand.
  • Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at the age of 21. As the disease progressed, his speech became increasingly slurred to the point that only people who knew could understand him. He would teach classes and give lectures with someone translating for him. He eventually lost the ability to speak altogether after an episode of pneumonia required him to undergo a tracheotomy. From then on he famously used his signature text-to-speech device to communicate.
  • Sharon Osbourne frequently turns the shaking, Brummie string of near-incoherent nonsequiturs that pass for speech in Ozzy's world and translates for the world at large, especially in interviews. Ozzy has gotten sober in the last few years and is now perfectly understandable (for the most part).
  • Deaf actress Marlee Matlin has an interpreter who accompanies her during public appearances.
  • Baby talk. Sometimes nobody understands what a toddler says, except a parent or an older sibling. And sometimes not even them.
  • Special needs children can sometimes require their caretakers to translate their speech or signs.
  • The Who's manager Kit Lambert was briefly this to Pete Townshend when he had trouble explaining Tommy in a coherent way to...anyone.


Video Example(s):


Translator Shy Guy

The Shy Guy translates what the Big Lava Bubble says.

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Example of:

Main / TranslatorBuddy

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