All Your Misunderstandings Are Belong To Us

all your base classically trained

Translating video games from one language to another can present opportunity for all sorts of miscommunications. While not always essential information, mistranslation can lead to some humorous results – here are a few of the more memorable classic gaming mistranslations:

Metal Gear
I feel asleep.

Final Fantasy VII
This guy are sick.

Pro Wrestling
A Winner is You!

Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam.

Ghosts & Goblins
CONGRATURATION! This story is happy end.

Samurai Shodown 2
Long, long ago, there were a man who try to make his skill ultimate. Because of his bloody life, it’s no accident that he was involved in the troubles.

When you win a battle

Or the classic Zero Wing intro scene:

In AD 2101, War was beginning.
Captain: What happen?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Operator: We get signal.
Captain: What !
Operator: Main screen turn on.
Captain: It’s you !!
CATS: How are you gentlemen !!
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say !!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
CATS: Ha ha ha ha …
Operator: Captain !!
Captain: Take off every ‘ZIG’!!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move ‘ZIG’.
Captain: (…)For great justice.

Ok, the last one had me laughing so hard that the tears were flowing. But sometimes, mistranslation is not so funny.

Stepping Out of the Game


During my junior year in college I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the country of Japan.
This was a dream trip of mine. Truly a life-changing experience for me – I had the chance to spend over two weeks in Tokyo, living in the home of a friend.

It gave me the amazing opportunity to see firsthand, what life in a Japanese home was really like, not just a tourist perspective, but that of a native. To anyone who has visited another country, the most authentic way to do so, is to stay in a local home (not a hotel).
One evening, we all gathered around the dinner table and enjoyed a delicious hot pot dinner. I remember making a comment to my Japanese friend that the meat was very different than the style that I was accustomed to in the U.S.

I intended this comment simply as an observation. Unfortunately, by the time it was translated back to my friend’s mother, it somehow came across as a complaint.

Immediately, my friend’s mother began profusely apologizing for dinner!
I was horrified, and I handled the situation rather poorly.
I became frustrated with my friend, and I blamed them for unfairly translating my comment, and rephrasing it in a way that, I thought, made me look bad.

Next, I did the only sensible thing to do in a situation like this – leave the house and go for a walk…

In the dark.

In a country almost 7,500 miles from home, where I could not speak the language,

And only knew one other person.

Absolutely brilliant.

When my pride finally gave up, I returned back to my friend’s house, only to realize, that while my words may have been mistranslated, my actions spoke far louder than my words. If there was any doubt about my maturity, this solved to end the debate.

While we might not face on a daily basis the same translation or word issues, it’s often possible for what we say to be misunderstood by others.

How to Set Us Up The Bomb


Understanding the parts of a message is a good place to start.
The ubiquitous percentile ranking of what messages are composed of, ranks words at 7% , tone of voice at 38%, and the remainder of our message is sent through body language and nonverbal cues.

Does this surprise you at all? The irony is, that we often spend so much time worrying about what words we will say, when that segment is actually the smallest part of communication!

quote all your base

Now obviously, there are some times when the words are so very important, but this is often dictated by the channel we choose to communicate through. What this means, is that we need to check that all three parts are working together when we are delivering a message.

It also means that we need to give special consideration for what channel we choose to use for communication with others.

All Your Emails Are Belong To Us


If you have a really sensitive issue to discuss, or a topic that will generate discussion, then email is a poor choice. Email is best kept short, and based on facts that need to be communicated. Even the slightest hint of sarcastic wording or rudeness is dramatically magnified when you cannot use your tone of voice or body language to explain yourself.
Works great for listing out responsibilities to many recipients, or any fact driven work with lists or bullet points.

Say You What !! The Telephone


Telephone is best when discussing issues that need immediate attention, and may have many questions or clarification is required. Your body language can affect your tone of voice, so keep this in mind while on the call. If a lot of details are required, a follow up email is helpful.

In Person: How Are You Gentlemen !!


When ever the time is available, in person meetings will provide the most complete method for communication. While not always practical or efficient, no other method provide as much opportunity to communicate across all three components of communication. It makes good sense to practice your face-to-face communication skills whenever possible, and take notice that your phone and email skills can improve from learning what works in person as well.

You Have No Chance to Communicate Make Your Time


Even the best communicators can be misunderstood, and the reasons for this are many. If you want others to understand your message, you need to start by focusing on what you can control, but also understand that others bring their own thoughts, biases, and opinions with them. Communication is amazingly complicated, so much so that it is rather amazing how well we actually can understand each other.

I also know, in spite of difficulties, working at communicating more effectively has always paid off for me. I’ll wrap up with one last tip here, a masterful suggestion from Stephen Covey: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

What challenges have you experienced in communication? How have you been able to communicate more effectively?