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Oh my god! There's an axe in my head!
July 17, 2012 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Back in the far distant past of the internet (round about 1993, it seems), back when Usenet was actually a bunch of popular discussion groups, the newsgroup alt.gothic had a simple post made by one Yohaun, a short list of translations of the phrase "Oh my god! There's an axe in my head!". Responses contributed translations in more languages. Now, nearly 20 years later, this list continues to exist and grow.

Previously, although the link in the old post now redirects after a short wait to this new page, which contains a history of the meme and features extensive footnotes about corrections to the various translations which have been made over the ensuing years. If you find you have corrections or other translations to offer, contact the website owners and help them out!
posted by hippybear (54 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I now have my new short-string lorem ipsum text for i18n work.
posted by davejay at 10:24 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Be sure not to miss the footnoted etymology of the translation into Zau Ta-folin, Sauron's Black Speech of Mordor.
posted by eugenen at 10:32 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me.
posted by eruonna at 10:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Through centuries of building upon our own technology, we found a way to bring the best minds of humanity together, no longer inhibited by culture, language, or geography, and this is what we came up with?

Oh my gods the internet is SO AWESOME.
posted by a hat out of hell at 10:44 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


They don't seem to have a Cockney version there. It would probably be something like - Oh me sweeney! There's an 'arris in me crust of bread!
posted by unliteral at 10:56 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh my God! My hovercraft is full of eels
posted by growabrain at 10:58 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I cannot buy this tobacconist, it is scratched.
posted by hippybear at 11:01 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh me sweeney!

Great, now I have to re-read (again) David Grubb's Ancient Lights.

Okay, I've been meaning to do it for a while, but now I've gotten the book down off the shelf.

Someday I'll find a way to make an FPP about that book, and everyone will weep that it's out of print.
posted by hippybear at 11:05 PM on July 17, 2012


Oh my god! Is that an axe in your head, or are you just happy to see me?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:17 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find the passion the Norwegians bring to the endeavour (and variety, and disagreement) rather alarming.
posted by falcon at 11:18 PM on July 17, 2012


hmm...no futurama alien alphabet...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:36 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could have been a god. Then I took an axe to my head.
posted by m@f at 12:01 AM on July 18, 2012


Be sure not to miss the footnoted etymology of the translation into Zau Ta-folin, Sauron's Black Speech of Mordor.

This is almost definitely fan fiction. In the canon of LOTR, there's one example of pure Black Speech, one overheard conversation of a mixed Black Speech/Orkish dialect, and a few individual Black Speech/Orkish words noted here and there. The words "axe" and "head" do not appear. I've never heard the phrase Zau Ta-folin before to describe Black Speech or Orkish, and the first couple of pages of Google results for the phrase all point to this list.

As to whether orcs, or even elves (the list has a Quenya translation), would invoke a god in their exclamations, it's an interesting question. In LOTR, there is very little public acknowledgment, let alone worship, of Iluvatar. Morgoth, on the other hand, actively strove to be worshipped by mortal races. As such, I think it more likely that the orcs would invoke a god in their exclamations than an elf, who would more likely invoke their homeland, or a famous historic figure.
posted by kithrater at 12:02 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I, for one, have several axes in my head.
posted by LordSludge at 12:04 AM on July 18, 2012


Is this something I would need to have an axe in my head to understand?
posted by daisyk at 12:18 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I misread Quenya as Quechua, and thought how cool it was that that Andean language looked like Elvish! Sadly, my nerdfrisson was unjustified. Anyone have some Inca/Third Age fanfic?
posted by hattifattener at 12:29 AM on July 18, 2012


I prefer to not have an axe in my head, but when I do, I never mention it to anyone in any language. That's my "don't axe, don't tell" policy.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:34 AM on July 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Better an ax in the head, than an arrow in the knee.
posted by Pendragon at 12:34 AM on July 18, 2012


axe, even.
posted by Pendragon at 12:34 AM on July 18, 2012


  • They have translations in Arabic and Korean, but they need Persian to complete the axes of evil.
  • I need an axe in my head like I need a hole in my head made by an axe.
  • The only phrasebook Jason Voorhees uses when he travels.
  • I'm not worried about people who have an axe to grind. What scares me are people who already did the grinding, and now have a very sharp axe to put in my head.

  • posted by twoleftfeet at 12:52 AM on July 18, 2012


    I am clearly losing my mind. Was something like this posted 2 or 3 days ago?
    posted by Joey Michaels at 1:14 AM on July 18, 2012


    It was posted yesterday, deleted as a double, but since it's been so long, we agreed it was okay to post again. In other words, it was basically un-axed.
    posted by taz at 1:38 AM on July 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Oh god. That awkward moment you follow a MetaFilter old skool meme conversation, you realise you may have been implicated in 2004 (thanks to your friend MB) and you have to run by the WayBack Machine to find out you weren't involved.

    Just me? Okay, carry on.
    posted by kariebookish at 1:51 AM on July 18, 2012


    The newsgroup alt.gothic (which still exists) turns 22 this November(or October 30, depending on where you count from.
    *sniff*

    This question was in (and may still be) the alt.gothic FAQ alongside such timeless classics as "Is x gothic?" (first posted November 3, 1991) and "What is goth?" (November 4, 1991).

    I feel so old.

    My memory is that it was part of Yohaun's sig file originally.
    Which, on 11/11/94, lead to this exchange. As far as I can tell from Google's dejanews search.
    posted by Mezentian at 2:04 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Actually, ignore that. Google's search interface is a skrewy.
    But it looks like it was Yohaun's .plan file, and was extant July 24, 1994, when the "(final version?)" of just 12 phrases was posted to ag.

    And still it grows to this day.

    Grow, little proto-meme, grow.
    posted by Mezentian at 2:13 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Needs more Dothraki. Perhaps someone could ask David J. Peterson for assistance?
    posted by dephlogisticated at 2:15 AM on July 18, 2012


    Careful with that axe in your head, Eugene.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:36 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


    They have translations in Arabic and Korean, but they need Persian to complete the axes of evil.

    er....
    Farsi: Oh! Khodayeh Man! Yek Tabar tooyeh saram rafteh!

    So yeah, they have that covered.
    posted by graymouser at 3:53 AM on July 18, 2012


    Yay, alt.gothic, the premier place to argue about whether or not NIN (Nine Inch Nails) was goth or not. I loved it when the thread would devolve into debates about whether Nin (Anais) was goth or not instead. Also where I heard so much about this mythical Snakebite & Black drink, which I had in London and it's beer with some kind of berry syrup?
    posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:33 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    When I play air guitar, I jam out on my axxe in my head.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 4:33 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Good Lord! Some bounder's whacked me in the bonce with a chopper!
    posted by Decani at 4:34 AM on July 18, 2012


    Ah, but were you refused a Snakebite & Black in London, because it was illegal?

    And did you do things just for points on Sexbat's test?

    (okay, that is flirting with a derail, bit it's in the post, gothdamnit!)
    posted by Mezentian at 4:37 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Also where I heard so much about this mythical Snakebite & Black drink, which I had in London and it's beer with some kind of berry syrup?
    "Berry syrup" is just about the poshest way to describe blackcurrant squash, but yes.
    posted by Jehan at 4:47 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Lacks attribution to Trotsky.
    posted by Mchelly at 4:58 AM on July 18, 2012


    this mythical Snakebite & Black drink, which I had in London and it's beer with some kind of berry syrup?

    Snakebite is actually half-and-half beer and cider (hard cider to you Americans). Wikipedia says that although it's not illegal per se, bars will often refuse to serve it because people drink it as if it was beer, ignoring the fact that cider generally has a much higher alcohol content, and they consequently get hammered much more quickly. (Not sure how that works with the possibly apocryphal stories I heard when growing up about bar staff refusing to serve snakebite, but instead serving half a pint of beer, half a pint of cider, and an empty pint glass.)
    posted by ZsigE at 5:31 AM on July 18, 2012


    Axe to the head, and you're to blame; you give Usenet a bad name.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 6:04 AM on July 18, 2012


    If we must have a tyrant, let him at least be a gentleman who has been bred to the business, and let us fall by the axe and not by the butcher's cleaver.

    Lemme axe ya, am I doing it right?
    posted by Splunge at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2012


    Wow, this sure does take me back to my very earliest internet memories. I loved this when I was 14.
    posted by marginaliana at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2012


    Wikipedia says that although it's not illegal per se, bars will often refuse to serve it because people drink it as if it was beer, ignoring the fact that cider generally has a much higher alcohol content, and they consequently get hammered much more quickly.

    Given that a cheap draught cider (e.g. Strongbow) comes in at 4.5% abv and a cheap draught lager (e.g. Carling) is 4.1%, there's not a whole lot in it, so this line of reasoning seems a bit doubtful to me. So does the idea that people drink it faster than either the cider or lager that goes into it - people are able to get drunk quickly on all of these. I think it's mostly the stereotype of the typical snakey b drinker that bars/pubs object to, using the above lines of reasoning (and the weights and measures canard) as an excuse.
    posted by xchmp at 7:11 AM on July 18, 2012


    You're gonna get up and scream.
    You're gonna get up and burn an axe in your head.
    posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:17 AM on July 18, 2012


    You have a head in one hand and an axe in the other.

    Now bring the two slowly together.
    posted by BlueHorse at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2012


    Back in the far distant past of the internet, when we first talked about this site, I wrote:
    There are a number of lousy versions there. I wrote to them when I discovered this site ages ago but never heard back or noticed any fixes based on what I'd said, so I figure they're in it for the fun rather than for accuracy. Either that or it's the axes in their heads.
    I'm sad to report this is still true. The Russian versions, for example, are still the same shitty collection they had a decade ago. They don't seem to remove versions they're told are bad, they just add new ones if readers suggest them. Eight years later, I'm not as jovial about their inaccuracy as I was back then. That level of indifference pisses me off.
    posted by languagehat at 8:21 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Specify that this is a mountain climber's axe and you've translated about half of "Variations on the Death of Trotsky."
    posted by Navelgazer at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2012


    This axe in the head...it vibrates?
    posted by yoink at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2012


    This is like looking through the album of my in(ternet)fancy. I remember trying to teach my preschool daughter to say "Oh my god! There's an axe in my head," in various languages because, hey, she might travel one day and it could be useful.
    posted by notashroom at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2012


    The Russian versions, for example, are still the same shitty collection they had a decade ago.

    In Soviet Russia, axe to head translates you. Oh, my God!
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    No Hawaiian? Here's a shot:

    O ko'u Akua! Koi loko ko'u po'o!
    posted by kamikazegopher at 1:35 PM on July 18, 2012


    rec.games.roguelike.nethack is still a popular discussion board :-)
    posted by floatboth at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2012


    1993 wasn't exactly the distant past of the Internet. 1985 or so, however.....
    posted by kjs3 at 5:59 PM on July 18, 2012


    k8-(
    posted by schyler523 at 6:46 PM on July 18, 2012


    Axe me in the head once, shame on you.
    Axe me twice, shame on me.
    posted by exphysicist345 at 8:55 PM on July 18, 2012


    (Not sure how that works with the possibly apocryphal stories I heard when growing up about bar staff refusing to serve snakebite, but instead serving half a pint of beer, half a pint of cider, and an empty pint glass.)

    Ladies and gentlebeings, as Gorilla Grod is my witness, I stand before you today as a person who was refused a Snakebite in a London pub (no, not the Dev).

    Instead I was given a pint glass, and two middies, one of cider and one of beer, with the unspoken suggestion that I mix my own.

    I questioned this, as I spoke the bartender's native language, and expressed some disbelief at this confusing state of affairs, and I was told that it was an edict from management.

    Who was I to argue?

    But two nights later we went to the Purple Turtle and got absolutely smashed on Snakebite and Blacks... and then there was Slimelight and an ambulance, and rain. So, you know, being refused Snakebites in UK pubs does happen.
    posted by Mezentian at 1:52 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    There are a number of lousy versions there.

    Yeah, the standard German version is definitely not from a native speaker. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the list...
    posted by klausness at 5:05 AM on July 19, 2012


    > Yeah, the standard German version is definitely not from a native speaker. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the list...

    I think we can take for granted that if the Russian and German versions are bad, the entire list can be taken as a dumb joke rather than an actual attempt to provide information. (Yes, it's silly information whether it's accurate or not; if you [generic "you"] don't think silly information needs to be accurate, you doubtless have no problem with this site. I do, and I do.)
    posted by languagehat at 7:03 AM on July 19, 2012


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