all your base are belong to us
This nonsensical phrase first appeared as a subtitle in the introduction of the English-language release of the Japanese video game Zero Wing in 1991.1 It’s a shoddy translation that became an in-joke among video gamers, who in the spirit of Kilroy and Mr. Chad copied it as grafitti wherever there was a flat surface:
In A.D. 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 ....
Captain: Take off every ‘zig’ !!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move ‘zig’.
Captain: For great justice.2
In 1998 the phrase began to be posted to the Internet and what had been an in-joke among gamers went mainstream.
It is an example of what is known as Japlish or Janglish, or pejoratively as Engrish. Japlish is poor-quality translation of Japanese into English or uses of nonsensical English words in Japanese advertising and clothing simply because English, particularly American English, is considered stylish and fashionable.
1William Mistretta, Game of the Week: Zero Wing. Gamespy.Com, accessed 25 Dec 2008 <http://classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=GameMuseum.Detail&id=60>.
2Story of All Your Base. Gamespy.Com, accessed 25 Dec 2008 <http://allyourbase.planettribes.gamespy.com//story.shtml>.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton