Suppose two countries have different languages and none of the them know each others language remotely. They send one person from each country and they learn each others language and after a while the kings of both countries meet with the translators to talk to each other.

King1: Hi, My name is King1. I welcome you on behalf of my country.

Translator for King2: I have informed the assasins to kill this Translator for King1 the moment he moves or makes a sound. We are almost ready to attack the city.

King2: Very good. They have no idea and now they can;t be informed of the danger.

Question: Now what should Translator for King1 do?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unless I am missing something, I would suggest you to introduce Translator1 and Translator2 in your post. $\endgroup$
    – Matsmath
    Sep 25 '16 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Why was my question down voted and closed? $\endgroup$ Oct 19 '16 at 7:55

I suppose it depends on the intentions of Translator for King 1. Let me assume that he wants to live and is not loyal to King 1. Then he should:

Turn and snap King 1's neck in a quick smooth action, and shout 'Long Live King 2'.

  • $\begingroup$ I doubt this was the intended answer ... $\endgroup$ Sep 25 '16 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ I think, this is the best the translator can do. Also some answers suggest creating confusion is also worth the trick. $\endgroup$ Oct 19 '16 at 7:54

Here's the gist of the situation: The two translators know both languages, but their respective kings only know their own. Therefore, when the first king spoke his message, he said it with the expectation that his translator would translate for him immediately.
The other king's translator, however, spoke first in his own country's language to his king about the invasion plot. The first king's translator would understand this, but the first king would not, and now the translator must make a decision. If he tries to inform his king about the impending attack, he will be assassinated; but if he doesn't, his country will be attacked and his king will have no chance to respond (perhaps he will also be considered treasonous).
What should the first king's translator do to inform his king of the attack?

In my way of thinking...

He should signal his own assassins to kill the second king and his translator.
The interesting thing to note here is that the two translators learned the words for "assassin", "attack", and "danger" from the other country's language. There is no need to learn these words if you intend to have a friendly greeting. The only reason to learn these words is if you are suspicious of the other country, which is reason enough to come to the greeting with your own body guards/assassins, too. The first king's translator will probably be killed, too, but at least he will have saved his country.


I guess if I were Translator for King1, I would...

Not make any move or sound. Unless King1 is a complete imbecile (in which case it may be best that Country1 is taken over anyway), he will surely grow suspicious about the fact that I am blatantly not doing my job as a translator. He is then sure to question me repeatedly about what is wrong.

As I completely refuse to answer...

He becomes completely paranoid, and at this point my choices are either loyalty or life. If I choose to be loyal, I would shout a single word - DANGER! My strange behavior, that word, and the fact that I get killed immediately should be sufficient to inform him that the country is in grave danger. However, this will not be very useful since if Country2's assassins could kill me so easily, my king will probably be killed the moment he tries to take any action as well.

This suggests that...

My best option is to throw my lot in with King2, rather than offer what is certainly going to be futile resistance. As such, I stay silent, watch the drama unfold, and find out much later that King2 has no use for retainers who are evidently not willing to lay down their lives for their kings. He executes me as an example to his subjects on the penalties of not being faithful to his rule.

In the end...

It appears that Translator1 is well and truly screwed from the second he entered this situation. His only real salvation would have been being a translator for King2 from the beginning, but since that did not come to be he is fated to meet a gruesome end one way or another.


He should

jump into King2's lap and hugging him as tightly as possible shout out, "Enemy assassins in the royal hall! We're about to be attacked by King2's army!" and hope for the best. The assassins might not even be able to think about killing him without endangering King2's livelihood. He's the only one with this vital information and is as good as dead anyway. Silly to let him know, really. If King1's savy enough he might even join him in King2's lap and diffuse the whole situation before dinner's even served.


"We are almost ready to attack the city." means they are not fully ready to attack. So the translator should give the attack command. This way king 1 will understand their plan.


I would like to propose this awkward solution.

Translator 1 should...

Laugh off the joke.

My reasoning is as follows:

This just makes no sense. For example, let's assume for the sake of argument that there were actually assassins. Apparently, they are okay with killing an enemy citizen of fairly high class, exposing King2's true intentions. If they are seriously okay with this and they have backup plans in case the translator does something rash, and alerting the royal guard and putting King2 in danger, then why not just kill King1 as well as translator and proceed with said backup plan, assuming it even exists? Surely a perfect assassination opportunity to severely damage the morale of the army before your grand attack. If King1 isn't dead yet, surely there are no assassins. Also, if King2 was planning to attack the city, and possibly kill some people of high class and possibly King1, why did King2 arrive at King1's kingdom and put himself in danger int he first place? He has assassins in place. He has the element of surprise. He has the power to do what he wants without his presence.


If there seriously was an incoming attack, then King2's Translator had no reason to leak information about the surprise attack. By doing so, he increased the probability of a failing assault on the city, by possibly provoking King1's translator to do something that would generally alert the guards and eventually wake up the army. Surely since King2's Translator's statement contradicts its own existence, there cannot be an incoming attack.


I really doubt there are assassins. I really doubt there is an incoming attack. Look up at the sky and maniacally laugh like an insane Yandere-chan, with a tone of slight sarcasm and disappointment in a bad prank. If you die shortly after, smile at the hypothetical King2's dead body in your dreams. Then ascend to your preferred version of heaven having died an honorable death.

  • $\begingroup$ King1's translator conveyed the information as he is sure King2's translator can not do anything. And he did so as a final confirmation that we can attack at our own convenience and there is no need to hurry. The question is can King2 take any kind of advantage from King1's translator overconfidence? $\endgroup$ Oct 19 '16 at 7:41

Translator-for-King1 should tell King1:

Wait’ll you find out just what is afoot. But hang on, first I have something to say to King2.

Then, as the arrows hit, Translator-for-King1 should tell King2:

King1 did not agree to your plan.
How dare you try to deflect the blame for my assassination!
Your translator is a double agent for King3.

King3???   When Translator-for-King2 said:

I have informed the assassins to kill this Translator for King1 the moment he moves or makes a sound. We are almost ready to attack the city.

King2 understood this as:

King1’s actual statement, translated, agreeing to attack the city of a third king, King3.

As for Translator-for-King2:

Translator-for-King2 had been assigned to recruit King1 to join forces with King2 in a surprise attack on King3, premised on the falsely-blamed assassination of Translator-for-King1.

The translator never told King1 of the plan. King1, who knows nothing of the plan, will not join King2 in the attack. King3 is fully prepared to defeat a half-as-strong-as-planned no-surprise attack by King1 acting alone.

As for King1:

Might never know what actually happened. But at least we do.


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