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Your Own Terms – Translation Terminology Management

Welcome back for Issue Eight of On Your Own Terms, the biweekly comic about Sir Terminus: Crusader of Logic, Manly Valor, and Translation Terminology Management. Today – All Your Base Are Belong to Double Rainbow Guy.

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Your Own Terms - Multilingual Terminology Management

About today’s comic “All Your Base Are Belong to Double Rainbow Guy”:

Removing my marketing hat for the moment, I’d actually like to talk about the inspiration behind today’s comic. A while back, Renato Beninatto made a reference to “All your base are belong to us” on Twitter. Naturally, being a gaming geek, I was thoroughly impressed, especially because members of his (there’s no nice way of saying this, really, so at the risk of sounding ageist:) “age bracket” don’t tend to keep up with nerdy memes as much as say, Generation Xers who grew up with this stuff. That’s not always the case, obviously, but my brothers and I tend to get blanks stares from our parents whenever we refer to lame stuff on the internet. But that just goes to show that Renato’s a pretty cool guy.

Anyway, his Tweet reacquainted me with this outdated yet still hilarious internet meme, and because it’s a direct result of translation problems, I was instantly set on including it in the comic one day.

Fast forward to a few days ago when I was writing the script for this week’s comic. I went to our Head Italian Linguist for a translation of “Oh my God, it’s a full on double rainbow!”, the infamous phrase that made Double Rainbow Guy go viral on Youtube back in July of this year. To give her a bit of context, I showed her the video and, after watching it, she said, “You know, only Americans come up with crazy things like this.”

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The thing is, that’s not true. I’m sure there are tons of Double Rainbow Guy-equivalents from different countries all over the web, but because native English speakers (particularly Americans and the British) are, for the most part, notably uninterested in the goings on of the rest of the world (aside from various surface-scratchings on the Discovery Channel), a lot of potentially hilarious stuff is overlooked. (For example, did you know that in China a large portion of young internet users say “Oh My Lady Gaga!” instead of OMG? Not comedic gold, necessarily—but still, it’s pretty interesting.)

In order to fix this, I went in and added a category for internet memes on I think it’s a pretty good platform for defining these memes, and doing so in a multilingual context. Because the data is interconnected so well, now my Chinese friends can understand why geeky Americans laugh when someone makes an “All your base are belong to us” reference. And my Egyptian friends can enjoy the more recently popular and delightfully ridiculous contraptions in the Troll Physics trend. From there, they can also share with everyone else some of the hilarious stuff that goes on in their respective countries and languages.

I’ll admit that, on the one hand, explaining these things runs the age-old risk of ruining the joke by trying to break down why it’s funny. On the other hand, it always feels good to be let in on an inside joke. And that’s all internet memes are, really: big, viral inside jokes.

That’s the story behind this week’s terminology management comic. If you’ve got any funny internet memes to add, feel free to sign up for a free account on and add away! As always, translations into other languages are definitely appreciated.

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  1. Good eye :) I intentionally included a nonsensical Chinese sentence to reflect the mutilated English translation. A more correct translation would probably be something along the lines of “ 你所有的基地都被我们佔領了.”

    In cases like this (translations that are funny because they’re bad), do you think it’s better to stay true to the original source (in this case, Japanese), or the source of the joke itself (the English)? I’d lean towards the latter on the off chance that someone who isn’t a native English speaker can also enjoy –to an extent, I suppose– the joke. But then, knowing your average Chinese person’s sense of humor, they wouldn’t find this funny anyway.


    Thanks for reading :)

  2. 基础 is “base” as in “foundation”. You should have “ 基地” which is military base.

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