Foreign Language Tirade

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Sometimes a character comes from a country other than the one the show is set in, but contrary to the typical portrayal of foreigners, he speaks the language just fine. However, every so often, events get under his skin to such an extent that he can't think through how to say what he's trying to say in the language of the show, and instead simply launches off on a rant in his native language. Common enough in real life as well. Likely to involve Foreign Cuss Words in the middle (perhaps some that aren't even from Earth), but it's perfectly possible to have a completely clean rant as well. Angry kin trope to Eloquent in My Native Tongue.

Sometimes referred to casually as "going Ricky Ricardo" after the character on I Love Lucy, who was famous for this trope and is likely the Trope Codifier.

See also Foreign Cuss Word and Angrish, where the person gets so angry, they stop being able to speak in full sentences.

Examples of Foreign Language Tirade include:

Fan Works

  • Adele Couteau on the Heroes-based Eclipse RPG is quite prone to using French tirades to bestow curse-ridden insults and threats of violence upon her enemies. Not even her fiancé is immune to recieving them on occasion...
  • The CSI: NY fic Wrong Place Wrong Time has Stella tirading in Greek in one chapter.
  • The Teraverse story It's Just A Habit includes a scene in which the main character's mother goes off on her in French. (Not only is the tirade completely clean, it's literally her declaring an intent to become a nun.) A slightly skewed example, though, as the characters aren't actually French, but first and second generation Americans who were raised bilingual.


  • Stromboli from Pinocchio
  • In the version of The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan, the British twin starts ranting in French while she's pretending to be the American twin.
  • Appears in Lorenzo's Oil about midway through, when Augusto has just about had it with Michaela's guilt-ridden obsessiveness.
  • In To Catch a Thief, Brigitte Auber curses the protagonist in French at her father's funeral, accusing him of being the notorious jewel thief and having caused the death of her father. Since both accusations are wrong and she knows it, the rant is actually completely fake.
  • The Diamond Arm, a Soviet comedy staple, combines it with the Unreliable Narrator in the scene with arguing Turkish contrabandists. Their increasingly expressive outbursts (which are, incidentally, complete gibberish) are extremely politely and tersely "translated" in a typical Soviet newscaster interpreter diction, until the "interpreter" simply gives up and just describes the rest of a fight as a "untranslatable wordplay using local idiomatic expressions".
  • Lampshaded in Lord of War:

Yuri Orlov: Curious how you always revert to your native tongue in moments of extreme anger... [cut to Yuri and Vitaly having sex with two girls they picked up] and ecstacy.


  • In the Discworld novel The Truth, Otto Chriek is heard to give one of these after knocking over some of his iconography equipment. Apparently, Uberwaldean is one of those languages that's good for swearing in.
  • In The Two Towers, one orc goes off into a long unpleasant rant in the Black Speech.
  • In Chess With A Dragon, an infuriated Madja rants for five minutes straight, in at least six different languages, before she starts repeating her obscenities. Later, Yake blows her record out of the water, ranting obscenities for fifteen minutes straight, without repeating himself, in at least twelve languages (including Pascal!).
  • There's one Animorphs books where Erek the Chee does this with an ancient Byzantine language known for having a lot of swear words.

Live-Action TV

  • Cue Card "boy" Tony Mendez will sometimes do this on The Late Show With David Letterman
  • Catalina from My Name Is Earl does this at least once with a tirade against Joy in Spanish; doubled as a Bilingual Bonus since what she is actually doing is commenting to her fans through the Fourth Wall.
  • One of the soldiers in Generation Kill will occasionally start screaming in Portuguese on the radio net.
  • Some of the Chinese dialogue in Firefly probably counts, although it's not exactly a foreign language as far as the characters are concerned.
  • Radek Zelenka of Stargate Atlantis frequently rants in Czech when frustrated; these are split 50/50 betwen context-relevant statements and tirades directed at the viewer or the actors present. The character of Zelenka was originally written as a Russian, but was changed to Czech in order to allow David Nykl to use his native tongue.
    • Then there's the long graphic description of Atlantis rising out of the water when recording a message to his family on Earth. Ford, who doesn't understand a word, asks if he's revealing anything classified.
  • The West Wing: in what may be President Bartlet's Crowning Moment of Awesome, he rants in Latin in the National Cathedral, at God.
  • Despite the fact that being a Spicy Latina is mostly incidental to her character, Santana from Glee sometimes yells throwaway lines in Spanish when angry.
  • In The Mystery Files Of Shelby Wu, a short-lived mystery series on Nickelodeon, her grandfather (who raises her) is said to rant in Chinese when angry.
  • Stella appears to do this at least once on CSI: NY, though the other time she speaks Greek, it's got a friendlier meaning.
  • April does this once in a while in spanish on Parks and Recreation.


  • In the 70s musical adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus and Julia do this when they are reunited.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia Ltd. Tarara explodes into Utopia's native language despite orders for the king that people are to speak English. Since it shocks the ladies of the court, it's censoring out what he actually said.

Video Games

  • There is a scene in World in Conflict, where French Commander Sabatier lets out an angry tirade in French after the American protagonists fail to recognize the cultural importance of a local church. He is cut short, however, by Colonel Sawyer, who reveals that he is fluent in French and well-versed in local history in his personal Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • In Mercenaries 2, Matthias Nilsson will sometimes curse in Swedish after losing one of Fiona's challenges. It is subtitled as [Curses in Swedish]

Web Original

Western Animation

Kyle: There's a ailnay ilefay inside of it.
Cartman: A what?
Kyle: An ailnay ilefay.
Cartman: Wwhat's that?
Kyle: Listen, aggotfay! An ailnay ilefay so you can eakbray out of isonpray!
Stan: Yeah, you stupid umbassday!
Cartman: I'd love to eat a cake, you guys, but they don't let us take anything back to the cells from here.
Kyle: They on'tday?! [takes the cake down] Why the ellhay otnay?! It ooktay ourfay ourshay to akebay this Od-damnedgay akecay, and ownay we're otallytay ewedscray!

  • One episode of The Simpsons had two Russian cosmonauts screaming in Russian; their lines were subtitled simply as "Russian profanities" and "More Russian profanities".