Language of Love
One coupling sometimes found in fiction is when a man and a woman pair up despite not having any kind of common language
. They still manage to have all of the other aspects of a relationship. Usually the man speaks the language that the audience is expected to understand.
Not to be confused with Everything Sounds Sexier in French
, which is occasionally used with this trope.
- There was a commercial about a man and woman having lunch together at a lavish café. The two were smiling at each other and holding hands. All the while, the man was murmuring things to her in French. The woman's response? "I don't understand a word you just said, but I like it."
- In a Silver Age Superman story, humanoid alien astronauts from two worlds crashed on a planet. His name was Kryp, hers Ton. Neither spoke the other's language. Once they got past figuring out how to identify themselves, the rest sort of fell into place, since they were stranded.
- It has to be a common fixture for Kryptonians, since, in the Modern Age reboot of the DCU, Legion of Super-Heroes Daxamites are an off-shot of Kryptonians and an alien race known as the Aboriginal Daxamites. The retelling lampshades the Adam and Eve Plot, with a friendly Kryptonian asking a cute alien chick to join him in their new city. Despite the girl obviously speaking a different language from Kryptonian, she warms up at the friendly gesture, hinting at the origins of the current Daxamite race.
- In the Marvel Comics crossover The Secret Wars, the Human Torch and later Colossus both fall in love with an alien woman with healing powers who befriends the heroes, despite not speaking any Earth languages.
- Subverted in the movie Birthday Girl, where a character gets a Russian Mail-Order Bride. While in this case he does help her learn English, they still couple like stoats in the meantime. However, she speaks English all along and is part of a Honey Trap kind of scam.
- For a human-mermaid example, it's implied in Splash, that Alan has sex with (a very willing) Madison in the elevator before she learns English.
- The film Love Actually, with the English writer Jamie and his Portuguese maid Aurélia. Neither of them know the other one's language and both of them try to learn it, on Jamie's part with hilarious results). They do manage to fall in love enough to make Jamie propose before they're able to fully communicate with each other.
- In the movie How To Murder Your Wife, Jack Lemmon's character wakes up one day with a hangover and a beautiful wife, who speaks only Italian. He does eventually fall in love with his wife.
- Pocahontas has Grandmother Willow, who urges the leading protagonists: "Listen with your heart, you will understand..."
- Subverted in Better Off Dead, where the love interest pretends to only speak French so she will not have to talk to the family she's rooming with, but reveals that she speaks English later to the John Cusack character.
- In The Fifth Element Leeloo knows only The Divine Language, but learns English rapidly. The romance was already beginning to blossom from her big bada boom into Korben's cab.
- In the Sean Astin movie Boy Meets Girl, he falls for Angelina, who only speaks Italian, and he only speaks English. But thanks to a literal God of Love played by Joe Mantegna, they don't even notice that they don't speak the same language till the initial magic wears off.
- In Stargate, Daniel Jackson falls in love with Sha'uri (Sha're in the television show) despite Daniel having not learned the language of her planet... yet. Arguably, the scene where they finally learn to translate is when they fall in love.
- Averted humorously in Wayne's World, when Wayne Campbell "learns" Cantonese in order to speak to his love interest. After purporting to have learned Cantonese, there are scenes where Wayne stares awkwardly at the camera without speaking, while long English paragraphs of complex, translated dialogue appear in the subtitles.
- Road to Rio suggests this trope in the song "You Don't Have To Know The Language".
- Played with in the John Travolta film Phenomenon, in which his character George persuades his best friend to hire a Portuguese woman (a very pretty young widow) as a housekeeper. George records some Portuguese phrases for his friend to learn, claiming that they're phrases like "When can you start?" - in reality, they're romantic comments about her beauty. The woman does, in fact, speak English perfectly well, and George knows it but his friend doesn't find out until they actually meet; George is just trying to hook them up. It works.
- While no languages are involved, The Piano features a romance between a mute woman and an illiterate man.
- In Red Tails, Lightning speaks no Italian and Sofia no English, presented almost entirely without subtitles.
- In 1632, the first novel of the Ring of Fire series, young 21st-century American Jeff Higgens, after having Saved The Damsel (a 17th century German girl named Gretchen Richter), he is smitten and in less than a day is proposing marriage. Since they have no mutual language, he has to propose using a German/English dictionary. It is said that this bit is based on an actual World War II era marriage between a G.I. and an Italian girl.
- A Song of Ice and Fire features Dany and Drogo, neither of whom speak more than a word of the other's language when they're married. They do both eventually become passably fluent in both languages, but they still have sex every single night in the meantime.
- A subplot in Gravity's Rainbow features a relationship between a Russian soldier (the father of Tchitcherine) and a black African woman. Using scraps of their respective languages, the two of them develop "the beginnings of a new tongue, a pidgin which they were perhaps the only two speakers of in the world."
- Bruce Sterling's short story "In Paradise" puts a twist on this—the lovers can communicate, but only through the automatic translator on the woman's high-tech phone ("It's from Finland.") This limits the time they can talk, but not the time they spend together.
- Papillon took on not one but two wives in the South American tribe he was sheltered in. By the time he married the second, he could rudimentarily communicate with the first wife. But when he married Lali they were still communicating in gestures and nods.
- This happens in The Garden Of God, the second novel in the original Blue Lagoon stories by H.D. Stacpoole. Dick, the son of the original couple, raised by his grandpa and a sailor, speaks English. Katafa, raised by Kanaka natives, names him Taori and teaches him her language. He never speaks English again until he gets sick and becomes delirious at the end of the third book.
- Seinfeld: In "The Old Man," George was attracted to a woman specifically for this reason. Quote, "I would like to dip my bald head in oil and rub it all over your body."
- There's a bit of humor about this in Coupling. In one episode, Jeff (a character constantly falling victim to Digging Yourself Deeper, which actually occurs in that episode) flirts with an Israeli woman who speaks no English, and the other characters actually suggest that this is a good pairing since she wouldn't realize the stupid things he was saying. Things still go wrong. To this end, the Word of God regarding the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue has Jeff in Israel, pretending he speaks only Hebrew and thereby avoiding embarrassing conversations with anyone.
- The Twilight Zone:
- episode "Two" involves lone male and female survivors from opposing armies falling in love in a post-apocalyptic town.
- "Probe 7, Over and Out" featured a man who'd crash-landed on an alien planet and a woman who was stranded there. They didn't speak the same language, but they fall in love. To make the above plot even more Anvilicious, their names are Adam and Eve. Guess what the planet gets called? (Hint: Irth.)
- An episode of Night Court had Bull trying to make time (in his own gently loopy way) with a comely, if skeptical, female Swede. She finally comes around, and as the episode ends, starts hitting on him in Swedish. Bull's cheerful comment: "Aw, shuddup."
- The short-lived TV series Aliens In America played with this concept, when the protagonist's little sister falls in love with a German exchange student, neither of which speaks the other's language. They spend the episode making out and being adorable, until at the end someone gets them a translator, and he realizes to his horror she's been going on about clothes this whole time, while she sees to her horror that he spent his time talking about video games. They break up on the spot.
- The TV show Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place plays on this when Pete falls in love with a beautiful woman who only speaks French. When someone is finally able to translate a conversation, he discovers that she is a terrible person and a racist.
- Switched at Birth starts Bay/Emmett off this way. Subtitles are used so non-ASL-speaking viewers can understand Emmett's signing.
- Call the Midwife: Len and Conchita Warrens. He's from Poplar, she's from Spain. He speaks only English, she speaks only Spanish. This does not, however, stop them from having 25 children together and be a Happily Married couple.
- Played for Laughs in Peep Show, where Super Hans falls in love with an ambiguously foreign girl.
- Louie has the "Elevator" arc where he has a relationship with his neighbor's Hungarian niece.
- Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare used this twice.
- In Henry IV Part 1, with Mortimer and his wife, who speaks only Welsh.
- In Henry V, where Henry married Katherine, who speaks almost exclusively French. There is a cute courting scene when she keeps misusing certain words.
- In Margin for Error, Moe manages to make a date with Frieda, despite German being her only language:
Moe (Going to her): You're a darn cute-lookin' kid. How'd you ever get mixed up with these bums?
Frieda (Uppish): Ich verstehe Sie nicht.
Moe (With a sincerity that transcends all the barriers of race and language): You're beautiful!
Frieda (Smiling cutely): Meinen Sie?
Moe: Aw, you dames understand that in any language!
- The webcomic Tsunami Channel, with a guy who doesn't speak Japanese and a girl who doesn't speak English. Somehow they understand each other, though, much to the confusion of the rest of the cast. Mind you, this later become a plot point...
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Swedish Emil and Finnish Lalli's Odd Friendship runs on a platonic version of this. It gets deconstructed to a degree, as they start learning each other's languages after their first on-panel "fight". However, another one happens a few weeks later due to the fact that the better verbal communication is making the reasons they should in theory not be able to get along surface. Lalli is a mage who Had To Be Sharp and Emil is a Flat-Earth Atheist who's had a comparatively sheltered life. The thing they do share is a lack of social skills.