In Real Life
, humanity has hundreds of languages spread across the world, due to a wide variety of cultures. In Science Fiction
, however, when aliens aren't speaking English
, an alien race is introduced, and their entire species apparently has only one language in spite of how unlikely it might be. Bonus points if the language is named after the race.
Like many alien characterization tropes this is at least partly to save the creator some time, especially if they go to the trouble of designing a full-on Con Lang
for the aliens. It's so widespread it can probably be considered an Omnipresent Trope
and likely falls under Acceptable Breaks from Reality
Compare Aliens Speaking English
. Related to Planet of Hats
. See also Common Tongue
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Anime and Manga
- In Dragon Ball, the Namekians all speak the language of the same name. Justified as Namek is a rather small planet, and there are only a hundred Namekians left after a series of catastrophes nearly wiped out their race save for Guru, the only survivor who then hatched all the current Namekians.
- In Bait and Switch (STO) the main character, a Bajoran, is once shown swearing in Glyrhondi dialect. She later converses with her ops officer, another Bajoran, in her native dialect, Kendran.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Averted with the Wookiees. Along with their main trade language Shyriiwook, at least two other dialects are known. Tyrant's Test introduced Thykarann, noted to have a wide lexicon of scientific and technical terms. Rebel Dawn gives us Xaczik, a language from the Wartaki Islands that Wookiee resistance fighters used as an unbreakable code during Imperial times.
- Inverted and used for a Humans Are Morons joke in "Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale":
Labria: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
Labria: Someone who speaks two languages?
Labria: Someone who speaks one language?
- Pointedly averted with the elves in Tolkien's Legendarium, including The Lord of the Rings. Among his many talents J. R. R. Tolkien was a linguist, and so he gave them two complete Con Langs: Quenya, the formal high tongue, and Sindarin, a simpler vernacular language.
- The Klingon language in Star Trek is perhaps the most infamous example, to the point that it's become an official language in Real Life.
- Babylon 5 averted it with the Minbari. The race had three languages—"Light", "Dark", and "Grey"—one each for the Worker, Warrior, and Religious Castes respectively. The Narn and Centauri seemed to be monolingual however, as did the Humans by that point.
- In the Firefly 'Verse English seems to be universally spoken, albeit with a number of Chinese words (mainly curses) included. Written Chinese characters are often seen on signs and such however.
- In Defiance so far as we've seen each Votan species has one language (or at least Castithans, Indogenes, Irathients, and Volge do). Even though some species came from the same homeworld and it may be justified in that only a small part of their populations left on the Arks. And of course they speak English most of the time since formerly American humans are the majority in Defiance.
- Averted in Mass Effect. Due to Translator Microbes everyone can understand each other despite multiple alien dialects and the vast array of human languages explicitly being mentioned as continuing to survive.
- The Uryuoms of El Goonish Shive speak Uryuomoco, which they can instantly teach to humans by zapping their minds.