The Engrish wiki last edited by Jagged85 on 11/25/13 03:41PM View full history


Engrish is a term associated with consumer products, including video games, exhibiting blatant grammatical and/or spelling errors. The name comes from a pronunciation phenomenon sometimes exhibited by those attempting to speak English as a non-native, as some other languages present difficulties in differentiating between "L" and "R" sounds. Engrish predominantly comes from East Asian countries where English is not an official language and, because of those nations' rising prominence in numerous political, economical, and social arenas, has become a fixture in popular and Internet culture. Engrish often results in unintentional humor, and has led to the creation of some of video game's most well-known memes.

Engrish Within Video Games

Metal Gear for the NES is well known for its Engrish dialog.

Although Engrish still occasionally appears within internationally released video games today, it showed up much more commonly during the NES and SNES generations. This was because publishers' and developers' localization departments often had small teams and/or little in the way of a budget. Since many of the games at the time were originally written in Japanese, proper translation provided an additional hurdle due to the language's complexity and substantial differences when compared to Western and Romance languages. Further more, technical differences between how Japanese and English characters are typically stored and rendered within a game's programming often resulted in limitations pertaining to how many English characters could appear per line, as well as per instance of dialog. Compression methods and rerouting text locations within game data can mitigate the issue somewhat, but the limitations are still an ever-present issue in localizations to varying extents, including those produced in modern times.

One of the most infamous examples of Engrish comes from Zero Wing's European Mega Drive release. Containing an introductory movie which is meant to set the stage for the proceeding gameplay, its numerous errors became far more famous than the actual plot it was supposed to convey. At the height of its prominence, Zero Wing's text was a widespread Internet meme that took precedence in both message boards and comedic videos. The game's phrase "all your base are belong to us" is the most famous one from that era.

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