Created By: Deboss on July 28, 2011 Last Edited By: IamTavEl on January 19, 2012

Alien Means Food That Talks

An alien language translates the word

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Trope
Indexes: Speculative Fiction Tropes

Actual trope.

When a creator wants to show how aggressive a species/culture is, the language they use will translate things like "alien" or "stranger" as "food" or "enemy". This is to show that the species/culture in question regards all outsiders as subhuman/subalien. If they also have difficulty controlling their appetite, they may be on the more intelligent side of Horde of Alien Locusts. Will likely lead to a Guilt-Free Extermination War if a fight starts.

Trope Namer is the Known Space series.

A subtrope of Language Equals Thought.

Examples:

Live-Action TV
  • Lexx: Giggerota refers to Stanley H. Tweedle as 'skin man' and 'waste of skin' but she was just a cannibal.

Literature

  • Known Space: the Tnuctipun term for alien directly translates as "food that talks".

  • Posleen War Series: the Posleen word for alien is "thresh" meaning food. They use an additive for humans, threshkreen: food with a stinger.

Western Animation

  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dee Dee pushes a button and sends Dexter to a prisonesque planet full of aliens from all over the place. He cobbles together a translator, and the first alien he speaks to says nothing but "GORK." When Dexter gets his translator to work on the word, he realizes it means "food". He hands the alien his lunch tray, but it continues to repeat "GORK" -- at which point Dexter realizes that he is the food the alien is referring to.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • July 29, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • I'm not sure if this fits the trope: Dexters Laboratory: Dee Dee pushes a button and sends Dexter to a prisonesque planet full of aliens from all over the place. He cobbles together a translator, and the first alien he speaks to says nothing but "GORK." When Dexter gets his translator to work on the word, he realizes it means "food". He hands the alien his lunch tray, but it continues to repeat "GORK" -- at which point Dexter realizes that he is the food the alien is referring to.

  • July 29, 2011
    billybobfred
  • July 29, 2011
    c0ry
    This could be a viable subtrope, if there are sufficient examples.

    Pardisca - I don't think that the example you gave would fit in this trope, unless "GORK" is also stated to mean "alien" or something of the like.

    Also a mild Real Life example: the word "alien," when used to describe people from another country, has more hostile connotations than other words, such as "foreigner" or "immigrant." In this context, the word "alien" almost always connotes "invader" or "illegal immigrant," because it is so often paired with the word "illegal." This is coming from a perspective in the US, and the connotations, are, of course, highly subjective.
  • January 12, 2012
    romhaire
    I believe in the Christmas Invasion episode of Doctor Who the aliens refer to the people they have hypnotised (using "blood control") as cattle.
  • January 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Literature: In Gorean the same word is used for "stranger" and "enemy."
  • January 12, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    Oh, not quite but similar. Teen Titans episode "Go!" has Starfire, who can assimilate a language through kissing, say they do not have a word for "nice". "Closest is rutha. Weak." Similar premise?
  • January 13, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    So the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" would fit, once we know the twist?
  • January 13, 2012
    Generality
    Might overlap with Is It Something You Eat.
  • January 13, 2012
    zarpaulus
  • January 15, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Discworld, the Agathean empire has one word for "foreigner" and "devil"
  • January 15, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In Warhammer 40000, Dark Eldar refer to non-eldar sapient creatures as "prey species"
  • January 19, 2012
    Antigone3
    In the "Alien Wars" setting (5th edition Hero System), the Xenovore race refer to all other sentient races as "food that pleads".
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