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"Admiral Piquet (Joaquim de Almeida)--a Frenchman who is so devious he substitutes French NATO troops for Americans in a phony rescue mission, and calls them off just when Burnett is desperately waving from a pickup area. Bet you a shiny new dime that when this movie plays in France, Admiral Piquet becomes an Italian[1]."


Say there is a foreign product which gets ported over to your local market. It is notable, though, that the original version features references to this new culture. This reference will often be changed to another culture. This is usually done to keep the "exotic flavor" that is invoked in the original work, but sometimes this is done for less wholesome reasons: After all, who wants to see a bad guy whose defining character trait is that he comes from the audience's own country? Other times, it can have a pragmatic reason, since sometimes having the person be foreign is necessary to the plot (For example, in the play Chicago, a minor plot revolves around an innocent woman being sentenced to death primarily because she spoke no English and no one could understand her Hungarian. Obviously, this wouldn't work when the show was performed in Hungary, so the Hungarian was changed to Chinese.)

When this is not done and there is a footnote or any author/translator's comentary of sorts, it will often say something on the lines of "In English in the original".

Subtrope of Cultural Translation. See also Accent Adaptation, ~Too Long; Didn't Dub~.

Examples of Keep It Foreign include:

Anime & Manga

  • Yukari-sensei becoming a Spanish teacher in the Azumanga Daioh manga translation might count here. It later becomes an Inconsistent Dub, because several jokes later depended upon her knowing English.
    • In the dub of the anime she's simply a language teacher instead of an English one.
    • Fortunately, the most recent manga translation just relies on Translation Convention and uses <brackets to indicate English speech>. This is necessary, since the blackboard (and at one point, the language bubbles) actually has proper English written on it.
  • In the Pretty Sammy OVAs, Pixy Misa peppers her speech with Gratuitous English. When Pioneer dubbed the show into English, it became Gratuitous French.
  • Eiru and An were posing as American exchange students in Sailor Moon and turned into French exchange students in the English dub.
    • In one episode of Sailor Moon, there is an English gentleman who invites the Sailor Senshi to his party, and they try to learn English to communicate there. In the English dub, the new language was changed to French and so was the nationality of the rich gentleman who invited the girls and Darien to his party.
    • This happened once more in the Super S season, when Tiger's Eye was posing as a Funny Foreigner. The "One! Two! Three!" incantation the Amazon Trio used was even replaced with "Un! Deux! Trois!" just for that episode.
  • In the episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya where Asakura attacks Kyon, Kyon asks himself "why?" in Gratuitous English, followed immediately by a Japanese "naze?" The English dub keeps both, though it switches the order around.
  • Can be seen in a lot of Anime fansubs, when English loanwords and Gratuitous English in general becomes Gratuitous Japanese in the subtitles. A common example is "Sankyuu!" ("Thank you!") being translated as "Arigatou!"
    • Several professional companies have also done this. Notably Animeigo for the (live-action) Sure Death! Movie.
  • One episode of Excel Saga had Il Palazzo briefing Excel in Gratuitous English, which the dub changed to Gratuitous Spanish. Later, Excel trying to talk to some people on the street when she landed in America in Gratuitous English was changed to a mix of Spanglish and faux ghetto-slang.
  • An episode of Tokyo Mew Mew featured an American pianist who didn't speak Japanese. When 4Kids turned it into Mew Mew Power, she became Spanish.
  • Not so much a translation as an update - in Gankutsuou, The Count of Monte Cristo's servant Ali is changed from a black African man to an Alien partly to keep him 'exotic' (and because the original character would likely appear racist by modern standards.)
  • Arisa's Gratuitous English in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is changed to Gratuitous Japanese in the English dub.
    • Similarly, in one fan translation of the As manga she says "I am perfectly bilingual" in Japanese rather than English. Somewhat justified in that she was deliberately showing off her skill in the other language.
  • The English subtitles (though not the dub) of Hand Maid May translate Cyberdoll Mami's Gratuitous English into Gratuitous Japanese.
  • An in-story version occurs in One Piece, when Usopp creates the alter ego of "Sogeking." Sogeking uses all the same attack names, but speaks them in English instead of Japanese as Usopp does. Admittedly, the FUNimation dub hasn't reached this point yet. However, given Usopp's attack names are translated in English versions, this entry will likely earn its place when FUNi does get there.
    • A kind of example of this occurs in Viz's manga translation. The character Eneru gives himself the title God, which in the Japanese manga and anime is pronounced the same as the English word God. So what does Viz do when their translation reaches this point? Change his title to Kami, the Japanese word for God. Note that the actual connotations of the word Kami are different from those of the Abrahamic God, although either works for the character.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Napoleon (in the english dub, "Jean-Louis Bonaparte") constantly uses Gratuitous French. In the French dub, he becomes "Wellington" (probably after the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon in Waterloo) and uses Gratuitous English.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card "Hitotsu-me Giant"'s Japanese name was "Cyclops" in Gratuitous English.
  • Digimon's dub likes to do this from time to time (when it's not changing Japanese names to different Japanese names). Snowbotamon becomes Yukimibotamon, and Fairymon becomes Kazemon.
  • In Bakuman。, Eiji Nizuma and Aiko Iwase, meeting for the first time, greet each other in English. In the English translation by Viz, they greet each other in Japanese.

Comic Books


  • Famous example (because of Executive Meddling): The German dub of Die Hard (the first one) changed the German terrorist team to an international one, and the main villain Hans Gruber was renamed Jack Gruber. During the scene where Bruce Willis' character writes the names of two of the bad guys on his hand, this is explained by him calling them after giants from a fairy tale.
    • This is all but ignored during Die Hard 3, which even featured a flashback sequence to the first Die Hard.
  • The "I always wanted to become a surgeon" guy in Hostel became Spanish in the German version of the movie.
  • In the European Spanish dub of Terminator 2, "Hasta la vista, baby" became "Sayonara, baby". The Latin American dubs, however, usually keep it the same.
  • In the Spanish dub of The Goonies, Mouth and Rosalita speak Italian.
  • In the French dub of The Day After Tomorrow, the woman who gets stuck in a cab during the tsunami sequence has been changed from French-speaking to Spanish-speaking.
  • In A Fish Called Wanda, Kevin Kline's character talks in Italian to his mistress to get her aroused. In the Italian dubbed version, he uses Spanish.
  • Averted in Top Secret, as the Saxon accent is distinctively different from the mainstream German.
  • In a scene from the 2006 version of The Pink Panther the humour is derived from the contrast between Clouseau's "French" accent and another character's Russian accent. In the Russian dub the latter character, while still referred to as a Russian, was given a Ukrainian accent. Could be justified, since Ukrainians are the second largest ethnic minority in Russia and some southern Russian accents sound a lot like Ukrainian.
  • In the Russian dub of Cloverfield, the Russian guy who approached Hud was changed to Belarusian.
  • In Phenomenon, John Travolta learns Spanish in a few hours to help give proper healthcare to a group of Mexican immigrants. In the Spanish dub, the immigrants are Brazilian and he learns Portuguese.
  • In the Eddie Murphy Dr. Dolittle, he can't talk to the orangutan because it speaks Spanish (try not to think about that too hard). In the Spanish dub, it speaks French.
  • Paramount wanted to change The Mole in Stalag 17 from a German-American to a Polish-American for the film's West German release to avoid offending German sensibilities as they perceived them. This idea was dropped after director Billy Wilder protested, but subsequently Wilder made no more movies for Paramount.
  • In the German dub of Chicken Run, Mac, the Scottish inventor hen, becomes Dutch.
  • Rowan Atkinson plays a narcoleptic Italian tourist named Enrico Pollini in the 2001 film Rat Race. The Italian dub changed his nationality to British (what else) and renamed him "Henry McCollions".


  • In French translations of Animal Farm, Napoleon's name is usually changed to César (Caesar).
  • The French translation of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files novel Fool Moon had a problem with "loup-garou", which was already French for "werewolf". So the translator had no choice but to find another word and settled for "devourer".
  • The passage "Ima trava okolo i korenja okolo" in Dune means "There are herbs around and roots around" in Serbian, but to Russians it sounds like bad Gratuitous Russian. Pavel Vyaznikov's Russian translation translated it into Hindi-Urdu.

Live Action TV

  • Versions of Fawlty Towers shown in Spain did this with Manuel, the well-meaning but dim waiter who happened to come from Barcelona. In the Catalan version, he is Mexican. In the Castilian, he is Paolo from Naples.
    • Perhaps irrelevant, but definitely still cool: Andrew Sachs, who played Manuel, re-did his own lines for the German dub. As a fluent German speaker, he could just speak the German with a Spanish accent
  • In the Latin American dub of Suddenly Susan, the exiled Cuban photographer played by Nestor Carbonell is Russian... a Russian called Luis.
  • In the French dub of Lost, Danielle Rousseau is German.
    • Bizarrely averted by the Korean dub, where Jin & Sun are kept Korean and have difficulties communicating with everyone else, who also speak Korean.
  • In the Italian dub of Friends the Italian character Paolo from the first two seasons is renamed Pablo and comes from Spain.
  • Mr. Sulu is Filipino in the Japanese dub of Star Trek and renamed Mr. Kato. Some Star Trek Expanded Universe materials make Sulu a mix of Japanese and Filipino descent, mostly to explain his un-Japanese surname.
  • The German in Scrubs becomes Danish in the German dub.
    • In the Spanish dub, Spanish becomes Italian.
  • The same goes for Malcolm in the Middle.

Tabletop Games

  • The first few editions of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Game had cards that had English names in the Japanese version - these became Japanese in the English version.
    • Example: Cyclops (Japanese) became "Hitotsume Giant" (Hitotsume meaning One-Eye) in the English version.
    • Thunderbolt (Japanese) became Raigeki (English)
    • Diamond Dragon (Japanese) became Hyozanryu (English), which translates to "Iceberg Dragon"... They didn't even try with the Sapphire and Emerald Dragons (Luster Dragons 1 and 2, respectively)
    • Ryu Senshi and Jigen Bakudan had names written in Gratuitous English (Dragon Warrior and Time Bomber respectively). Their names were also changed to a Japanese translation of the English word.
    • The Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh card "Rai-Oh", meaning Thunder King, arrived in the English version as "Thunder King Rai-Oh", which literally means "Thunder King Thunder King".
      • They do this a lot. Another example would be the "YU-JYO" (Friendship) card, that became "Yu-Jo Friendship" in the English version. "Friendship Friendship".
    • And now a whole archtype. The Gishki were called the Ritua in Japan. Ritua is a corruption of Ritual, and Gishki is a corruption of Gishiki. Either way, both names are based upon the name for Ritual cards in the other language.

Video Games

  • The Russian version of Heroes of Might and Magic V changed Russian-like names of the kings of the Griffin dynasty to vaguely Latin-like. (Nival is actually a Russian company, but since it was contracted by the French publisher Ubisoft, the owner of the rights to the Might and Magic franchise, the international English version was made first.)
    • Oddly, Heroes VI didn't follow suit with its Slavic names of the Griffin family. They did, however, do a Translation Correction on a misspelled name (Sveltana to Svetlana).
  • The Russian version of WarCraft III left Rexxar's bear, Misha, nameless.
    • Probably in order to avoid the association of WarCraft with a children's story. In most Russian children's stories with talking animals, the bear is always named Misha (short for Mikhail). The name is also often used for circus bears.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Pretty much all references to America in the Japanese version are changed to Germany in the English version. Thus we get Manfred von Karma, among others.
    • This was actually probably their best choice, considering that their last name was still "Karuma", and more to the point they dress like 19th-century German fashion plates.
    • Notably averted in the German translation which keeps the von Karma family German.
    • The regionalization does get a Lampshade Hanging when Morgan Fey constantly refers to Lotta Heart as a "foreigner" due to her Southern accent (originally Kansai). Phoenix has to point out that the "heartlands" are still technically a part of America.
    • Redd White's Gratuitous English turned into Gratuitous Spanish in the English version of the first game.
  • In the French version of Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations Jean Armstrong, the French chef, is Italian. His name is Luigi Labocca, averting the One Luigi Limit.
  • Villain Yeager from Tales of Vesperia spoke in a rather peculiar way in the original Japanese dub, filled to the brim with Gratuitous English. Rather than going with the typical response of some other gratuitous language to this in the English dub, he was given a goofy, over the top german accent. Not exactly the same, but gets the character's "off-kilter"ness out just the same.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, the line "Adios, Shadow the Hedgehog" is translated "Sayonara, Shadow the Hedgehog", presumably because the common Spanish word for goodbye didn't sound very exotic for countries with large Spanish-speaking populations.
  • In Spanish translation of The Longest Journey, the Hispanic Cortez, who often slips in bits of his "native" tongue becomes Corthes, the Frenchman who often slips in bits of his "native" tongue.
  • In the Japanese version of ''Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Pokémon Platinum]], a random NPC in Veilstone City asks you a question in English, which the English version changed to French.
    • In Diamond and Pearl, the Gym Leader Fantina was originally named "Melissa" in the Japanese version, and spoke English. In the English translation, her name was changed to the more French-sounding "Fantina", and she spoke French. In the French version, she spoke English again (though her name was changed to "Kimera").
    • Subverted by Lt. Surge, who's still referred to as the Lightning American in the English version of the game.
      • Many of the Pokémon species themselves, especially in the very first games - in Japanese, many of them had English words for names (often just the English word for whatever animal/object they were), so the English translation had to get more creative ("Lizard", "Cocoon", "Pigeon", "Sand", "Ghost", "Crab" and "Strike" became "Charmeleon", "Kakuna", "Pidgeotto", "Sandshrew", "Haunter", "Krabby" and "Scyther", respectively).
        • A subversion of this applies to the area the first Pokemon games are set in. It's named Kanto after the real life Kanto region of Japan. As a result what is a recognisable name in Japan is exotic to the rest of the world, most of which wouldn't know it's a real place.
  • Waka of Okami originally spiced up his sentences with Gratuitous English, which was mostly changed to Gratuitous French... except when he quotes recognizable catchphrases, such as "Let's rock, baby!" or "Just go for it!"
  • One thought of an NPC in The World Ends With You is in English in the Japanese version. This was changed to Japanese in the NA and PAL version.
    • Which is kind of awkward, because it's about how he can't find a samurai sword he needs because he's American and everyone else speaks Japanese.
  • The character called Master in Breath of Fire IV ended up with a Dub Name Change in a deliberate attempt to Keep It Foreign--to preserve essentially a multilingual Prophetic Name. "Master", in the original Japanese version, was a reference that the literal clockwork Cloudcuckoolander that joined your party was actually Sealed Good in a Can and was hosting a goddess. This would have been too obvious in English, so they renamed the character--to Ershin, which means "two souls" in Chinese.
  • In the Prism Rangers bonus mission of Disgaea 2, the Japanese dialogue has Prism Orange as a Funny Foreigner who speaks a mixture of English and nonsensical Japanese with a thick American-tourist accent. In the English translation, he speaks Intentional Engrish for Funny with a thick Japanese accent.

 Prism Orange (Japanese): Fujiyama, geisha! Fantastic ne!!

Prism Orange (English): Supah pahti! Fantastic spahkaru! Let's gooh nambah waan!

  • The Chinese characters of Capcom's arcade beat-'em-up Tenchi o Kurau II ended up becoming the Mongolian characters of Warriors of Fate, the English version of the same game.
  • In the Russian version of Sins of a Solar Empire, the names of the Kol battleship and the Sova carrier for the TEC faction were changed by duplicating the last consonant in a typical English fashion for common word last names (e.g. Starr), making them Koll and Sovva, respectively. "Kol" in Russian means "stake" (as in for killing vampires), and "sova" is Russian for "owl". The Russian-sounding Dunov battlecruiser kept its name.
  • In Portal 2, Wheatley is seen shortly switching to Spanish Blind Idiot Translation. In the Spanish dub, he is speaking English.

Western Animation

  • In Futurama, French is a dead language. In the French version, it's German instead.
  • Uter is Swiss German in the German dub of The Simpsons.
    • In the European Spanish dub, Bumblebee Man's Gratuitous Spanish is retained, but he still has a Mexican accent.
      • And yet, oddly, in his first episode he was dubbed as Italian. Then somebody either realized that a Mexican accent would be as foreign, or that the character was a Paper-Thin Disguise of El Chapulin Colorado (there was in fact a brief revival of Chespirito's popularity in Spain about that time).
    • Averted by the Quebec dub of "The Crepes of Wrath" as Parisien French is different enough from Quebec French (and possibly the rural French of the characters in the European French dub).
  • In the Latin American Spanish dub of Cow and Chicken, Supercow's Gratuitous Spanish dialogue was changed to Gratuitous English.
  • Not used in some Spanish-language versions of Dora the Explorer. Instead of speaking in English and repeating in Spanish, everyone says everything in Spanish twice. This kinda defeats the purpose of the show.
    • Other translations replaced Spanish with English. In fact, the use of this trope varies in different countries, and from one translation to the next. Some versions are in a single language and others throw in foreign phrases, but for the most part the show's bilingual roots remain: some versions use the local language plus English, some add Spanish instead, and in rare cases three different languages can be heard. The other wiki has a helpful list.
  • An episode of Kim Possible has Kim's brothers suggesting that she send an anonymous email to someone. When she hesitates, they explain that "[They], like, route it through Sweden or some place, and it can't be traced." Since that wouldn't work in the Swedish dub, they changed the reference to Iceland.
  • In the French dub of Looney Tunes, Pepe Le Pew is Italian, though the other characters around him still speak French (and in real French, not silly fake French).
  • There's a version of this in Shrek 2. Antonio Banderas voices Puss with a generic Spanish accent in the English version; in both the Spanish and Latin American versions, he voices him with a thick Andalusian accent instead, different of any of the other characters.
  • Averted in Asterix in Britain. Normally, in the English dubs of Asterix movies, the Gauls and the Romans speak the same accent. In this one, however, all the Britons have British accents and the Gauls all have French accents.
    • However, the Romans still have American accents rather than Italian.
  • Strangely averted in the French dub of Angela Anaconda, in which French Jerk Nanette Manoir is still French. Which means that, while in the original she used Gratuitous French, in the dub she just repeats herself a lot. And having a girl say the French equivalent of "Good morning! Which, in English, means good morning!" does not make her sound pretentious, it makes her sound insane.
  1. He doesn't
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