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Otávio Banffy

Funny Friday: Great game translation tropes

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I've recently found this amazing wiki website called TVTropes, and they have all sorts of great references (from medias other than television as well), and they have a nice collection of tropes from games.

Their definition of trope, by the way:


Merriam-Webster defines trope as a "figure of speech." For creative writer types, tropes are more about conveying a concept to the audience without needing to spell out all the details.

The wiki is called "TV Tropes" because TV is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media. Tropes transcend television. They reflect life. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere.

In a wiki page called "Good Bad Translations" they give us various examples of poor translations that had funny outcomes, often became memes, or strong references for the players and developers involved.



The Spanish translation for The Secret of Monkey Island did this during the insult swordfighting sequence. The closest counterpart for the slang "I'm rubber, you're glue..." is Botellita de Jerez (todo lo que digas será al revés, everything you said will be reversed). However, it was literally translated as "Yo soy cola, tú pegamento", resulting in a very funny phrase that lacks any coherence. It got very popular, becoming an icon of the game and even being preserved in the remake.



At the end of Ghosts 'n Goblins:

  • "Congratulation. This story is happy end. Thank you."
  • "Being the wise and courageour knight that you are you feel strongth welling. In your body. Return to starting point. Challenge again!"



In The Goonies II, whenever you try to "PUNCH" an NPC, they will respond by saying "Ouch! What do you do?" (instead of "Ouch! What did you do that for?")

Samurai Shodown - Apparently, the title was made like that on purpose to reference another title. Still, it looks bad.


Metroid - The original ended with the Engrish message, "Great !! You fulfiled your mission. It will revive peace in space. But,it may be invaded by the other Metroid. Pray for a true peace in space!" [sic]

TVTropes has a vortex of inner links that will drag you further than YouTube's recommended videos. Quite a few interesting things to read!

  • That’s funny 3

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By the way, it’s interesting that — despite all the hilarity — most of these badly translated phrases are perfectly understandable.

Take “All your base are belong to us”. Who can not get it, right? Which cannot be said, by the way, of many perfectly grammatical but overly complicated sentences such like this one.

I think it’s a worthwhile topic for linguists to investigate.

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