Follow TV Tropes


Aliens Speaking English

Go To

Graeme Willy: How come I can understand you? Are you using some neural language router?
Paul: Actually, I'm speaking English, you fucking idiot.

As unlikely as it may seem, most alien species can speak English — or Japanese, or French, or whatever the language of the show's producers and intended demographic is. This has the added advantage that the aliens can sometimes lapse into their native tongue when the script demands.

Not to be confused with a case of Translator Microbes or the Translation Convention, where the aliens are logically assumed to be speaking their own language and the words are getting translated en route (and any questions of why their lip movements should synch with their translated dialogue instead of syncing with their original tongue can be simply ignored). This trope is when the aliens really did learn to speak a human language In-Universe — hey, if they've been watching our television shows all this time, they could have easily figured it out by now. Of course, if a story is not about a First Contact scenario, and the aliens have been in contact with humanity for a while, the aliens speak English because they have dealings with English-speaking humans. Or in stories where aliens have been influencing Earth civilization for long enough, it could be that they speak English because it was their language first and they taught it to us. Sometimes, authors also like to have some short explanation, even if it is only a quick Handwave.

If you want to keep things lively, using a Bilingual Dialogue with alienese as the foreign language is always cool. If you want your aliens to be quite scary, have them instead speak in the Black Speech.

Usually these are Acceptable Breaks from Reality, because not knowing what the aliens are saying would be quite uninteresting, and having the show's cast spend the first half of every episode learning how to say 'hello' in the Alien Language of the Week seriously undercuts the story and makes the people who are listening to it in-universe with sentences like "I don't understand this". However, Aliens Speaking English isn't totally inevitable either, as it isn't that impossible to put in an imaginary language and English subtitles.

Sometimes, the language is quite like the earthen language of the author, but the words and expressions involving "earth" and "human" are replaced by puns using the word the aliens uses to name themselves.

If the words are understandable but the grammar rules are not, then it's a Strange-Syntax Speaker. See Eternal English for the time travel equivalent. Occasionally justified by a Common Tongue. Compare Anime Accent Absence for when the Japanese forget to put accents on their foreign characters. Contrast Starfish Language, which is the opposite of this trope.


    open/close all folders 

  • BoBoiBoy: Most aliens note  speak human language just as fluently as normal people would. The show being of Malaysian origin, the aliens speak Malay, but this is played straight in the English dub.
  • Mechamato: Discounting the ones who talk in Pokémon Speak or are nonverbal, the bad space robots speak human language note  just fine.
  • Motu Patlu has featured a number of Alien Episodes whose respective aliens speak human language perfectly.
  • Happy Heroes: All of the characters are aliens in some form, and yet they all speak English (or, taking into account the show's country of origin, Chinese) perfectly fine.
  • The egg aliens in Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf can speak Chinese perfectly fine.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The resident of Byston Well in Aura Battler Dunbine are able to communicate in Japanese language. This is most likely an ability of Aura Power, which is shared among the people of Upper Earth as well.
  • Played with interestingly in Birdy the Mighty. If examined carefully enough, you see that in every interaction where there is a potential language problem (i.e. a human and an alien), there can be a reasonable expectation that that alien learned Japanese. For example, Birdy was on Earth for 6 months, working in the modeling business. Aliens that wouldn't know Japanese naturally only speak to other aliens (though of course the dialogue is translated for the viewer), so they are speaking their language. Tsutomu can only understand the aliens because his mind is inside Birdy.
  • Brave Command Dagwon: Played straight in the anime, but in the OVA, it initially seems subverted after The Reveal, since Deandozol was only mimicking a human and had trouble speaking language, suggesting it was struggling to learn it. It gets played straight like the rest in the end, though, since it speaks perfect human language in its final form.
  • The Brave of Gold Goldran: A throwaway line from Dai implies that this is the standard, and the trio sees nothing wrong with it. (They have a short discussion about it while ignoring an increasingly frustrated alien threatening them with a gun, who goes from calmly telling them to reach for the sky to screaming "putyerhandsup putyerhandsup putyerhandsup~!" whilst firing wildly to demonstrate that he means business.)
  • Catians in Cat Planet Cuties speak Japanese. This, in addition to the fact that they look like humans who are wearing cat ears and tails and the fact that their home planet was originally named Earth (they changed it to Catia prior to first contact so as not to confuse people) all get lampshaded heavily.
  • The practice of Magical Girl groups using English names when their powers originate with aliens (like the above-mentioned Sailor Moon) is mocked, same as everything else in the Magical Girl genre, by Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!.
    Wombat: Battle Lovers is a venerable and noble title!
    Ryuu: Can't be, it's English.
    Io: At least be consistent about whether you're an alien or a foreigner.
  • Used in Dears when Ren learns Japanese in one night by reading a single Japanese textbook. Justified because it's a genetic trait programmed into the Dears to learn languages. How this also allows her to SPEAK Japanese however is never explained.
  • Downplayed in Dog Days. The people of Flonyard all speak Japanese, but it's a minor plot point on several occasions in the first season that have a different written language.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z:
      • Intergalactic demons seem to speak impeccable Japanese, although at times, at least in the English dub, various aliens speak their native tongue, such as Frieza, though it makes you wonder why they choose to speak the earthlings' language in the first place.
      • The Namekians also have their own native language, though they default to the same language that everyone else uses (Japanese or whatever translation the viewer is watching). One of the Namekian village elders speaks in Namekian to try to hide that they can understand Frieza, although Frieza is well aware of the fact that he can speak the same language as everyone else. Also, the Namekian dragon can only be released by a password spoken in Namekian and wishes can only be made in the Namekian language. This is made more confusing by the fact that the Dragon itself speaks normal Japanese.
      • The original English dub mentions a "Universal Language", but this isn't in the Japanese version.
      • Fan theories have it that the scouters used by most of the alien species in Frieza's employ also double as translator devices (though this would fail to account why Frieza can speak to someone like Krillin, neither of whom wear a scouter, and can still be understood).
    • Dragon Ball GT: As with previous Dragon Ball series, everyone in the galaxy speaks whatever common language the series is being viewed in.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Magetta speaks entirely in his species' native language, though oddly, he does appear to understand the Japanese that the other characters speak. When another member of his race appears in the "Galactic Patrolman" arc, they speak Japanese.
  • Despite being from another world, the residents of the Final Fantasy-esque world in Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger, all speak fluent Japanese, a language Shogo and Yuko can understand. However, not all texts are written in Japanese, though Shogo can decipher them thanks to possessing Libra.
  • Also in Gintama the aliens already managed to take over the world but for some reason they all learned Japanese instead of making the humans learn their language. However, there seem to be quite a few different species of aliens, so they might have just all learned the language of the oppressed to spare them the possibly multiple language courses.
  • In Hetalia: Axis Powers, America's alien friend Tony speaks English. ("Fucking limey!") Even in Japanese. Tony somehow speaks better English than Anglo countries do! Which perhaps is more of positive reflection upon Tony's actor compared to the rest of them, than it is a negative one upon the characters themselves.
  • Communication problems never show up in Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia, not even between people who live in different dimensions.
  • In Inazuma Eleven the members of Aliea Academy, aliens from a distant planet who invade Japan, speak fluent Japanese as soon as they first arrive on Earth. Although, Subverted with the twist: The "aliens" were actually Japanese middle school kids. Played completely straight though in Go: Galaxy, where the aliens are completely real and all speak Japanese.
  • Inuyashiki: Implied in the manga, as in the last chapters Shishigami remembered something they said when he was being rebuilt. Averted in the anime, in which the aliens talk in Starfish Language.
  • In Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, aliens on a research mission learned perfect Japanese before landing, just for convenience.
  • The Human Aliens in Lyrical Nanoha speak Japanese. Their computers speak English (or German). Think about that for a second. Although magic enables telepathy, so a translation effect as an extension of that makes a certain amount of sense. As for the devices, one can assume that they are speaking Midchildan or Belkan, rendered into English or German for the sake of aesthetics. In the non-translated manga; a random TSAB team training in the field is singing a marching song in English. It would seem actual English is the language the TSAB speaks.
  • When the girls of Magic Knight Rayearth are transported to Cephiro, they seem to take it for granted that everyone speaks Japanese. That is, until they meet Caldina and notice her Kansai Regional Accent. Then they start asking if there's an Osaka in Cephiro, too.
  • My Monster Secret: Not only do the members of Aizawa's race speak a perfect Japanese, they even have Japanese names for some reason (at least there is no indication they have a "real" alien-ish name).
  • Inverted in Ninja Senshi Tobikage. The aliens in this series actually speak a foreign language the main characters don't understand. This briefly results in the main characters being held hostage until the aliens offer to let them ride one of their robots.
  • Ubiquitous in isekai stories and can usually be chalked up to magic. An interesting variation comes up in Overlord, where the isekai'd protagonist can talk to the locals just fine, but is incapable of reading the local language.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • The Mentor Mascots of each series almost always speak perfect Japanese, save for their Verbal Tics. Like most magical girl tropes, this is lampshaded in Futari wa Pretty Cure, where Nagisa is confused about how her fairies, Mepple and Mipple, learned to speak Japanese.
    • With aliens and space travel being featured heavily in Star★Twinkle Pretty Cure, this was unavoidable even aside from the series' usual usage, but the language rules are thought out pretty thoroughly. The fairies, Fuwa and Prunce, both speak Japanese right off the bat, but it's justified in both cases; Fuwa gradually picks up words that are spoken to her, while Prunce is an Omniglot who acts as an interpreter. Lala, a Human Alien, doesn't speak human language, so for the entire first episode she's The Unintelligible until Fuwa magically gives her the ability to speak Japanese (though even before that, she still seems to understand what Hikaru says to her). All of the protagonists' Transformation Trinkets double as Translator Microbes, and the antagonists offhandedly mention wearing translation collars, which handily explains other cases of aliens speaking Japanese; either it's directly being translated, or they're speaking with other aliens.
  • Project A-Ko: The Alpha Cygnans are amazingly fluent in Japanese, though no one ever comments on it in-series.
  • Robotech:
    • Justified with the Zentraedi, at they explicitly learn english.
    • Also justified with the Invid. We pick up the heroes during the Third Robotech War well after the Invid have occupied earth and have had time to learn the language of their new labor force.
    • However, unlike the other two, the civilian population of the Robotech Masters' city ships have no real justification for this.
  • Villains in Sailor Moon are often Aliens. The first anime's hell tree arc, the Death Busters and Shadow Galactica are all full of them. As are the villains of all 3 movies. Aside from a single gag during the Hell Tree Arc, none of them show any signs of speaking anything but perfect Japanese. The Musicals also have new alien characters though this may be to Media limitations (you can't have subtitles in a live show.) The Death Busters were possessed humans. As for the rest, if even the cats can speak the local language, it's best not to think about it too hard.
  • The El Ninonians in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei all speak Japanese.
  • In Sentai School, Ken takes note that everyone, even from different countries, seems to speak the same language.
  • Lampshaded in Sgt. Frog. Keroro and other keronians/aliens (like mois) speak perfect Japanese/English. When asked about this by Fuyuki he counters by saying that Japanese/English sounds like Keronian.
  • Space Family Carlvinson has everyone talk and write in Japanese, despite the setting being an alien planet in the year 4001; then again, it could be all just part of the OAV's gentle humour, since what we see of the planet is almost entirely similar to 1980s Japanese countryside.
  • All those aliens in To Love Ru seem to have their Japanese down just fine. Although apparently it did take some time for Lala to learn the written language.
  • Lum, Ten, and Lum's father from Urusei Yatsura speak Japanese, but Lum's mother cannot (her speech is rendered as Mahjong tiles). Rei can say just a few words, and Lum forgets Japanese for an episode after getting hit by a baseball. But... practically every alien other than Lum's mother is fluent. Benten, Oyuki, Ran, Elle, the taxi driver...
  • In Vandread, this is half played straight as every population speaks (or telepathically thinks) in the same language, but the Mejerran pirates can't read Tarak computer panels. This is intentional. Both planets speak Japanese, but the Majarrians write only in kana, and the Tarakkians write only in kanji. It's a backhanded reference to a popular treatise on the Japanese language published in the 1950s; in one passage it compares instances of male and female writing that approach this extreme, and remarks that to look at them you'd scarcely think they were in the same language.
  • Wonder Beat Scramble: Japanese in this case, but still both used and subverted. The audience, by necessity, is able to understand the Vijurian speech, but the characters in-universe need a translator.
  • In The World of Narue, the Human Aliens all speak Japanese — because they come from Planet Japan, which has undergone some strange convergent evolution such that they are linguistically and culturally (and biologically) identical to modern-day Japan. Actually, nearly every alien homeworld corresponds to some Earth nation in the same way, the possible implications of which baffle and disturb the aliens to no end because Earth has somehow miraculously not destroyed itself while interstellar society is on the edge of constant warfare — and that's with light years of breathing room between each society!

    Comic Books 
  • In The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius it is stated that most aliens can speak English.
    Alien: Well, duh. Novakish is the only language that's simpler. And with that you mostly pull your joint and spit.
    Barry: Like baseball.
  • Atari Force: Mostly subverted with some exceptions; Taz will only speak one word of (barely intelligible) English at the end of a word balloon.
  • In The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill, Skuttlebutt automatically decodified Thor's language and loaded it into Beta Ray Bill.
  • In Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, the Space Ghoul speaks English.
    "Of course! Doesn't everyone in the known galaxies?"
  • In Cosmo (2018), Max freaks out when he realizes the aliens know his language.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In a Carl Barks comic, Uncle Scrooge went underground (No Pun Intended) and met the Terries and the Fermies. They talked like cowboys, because through the ground they listened to the radio. As a side effect, they thought that money was worthless because people try to give it away on the radio. Oh, and they make earthquakes.
    • In Paperinik New Adventures various alien races can easily speak English, though only in three cases it's Justified:
    • The Evronians have kept Earth under surveillance for millennia before deciding it was worth invading, and have intercepted our broadcasts ever since they started.
    • The pair of Grilkian military officers that appear in the series are asked about their ability to do this. They reply that their military academy teaches all the languages they're expected to need to know (also hinting at an extreme level of preparedness, as Grilk only started operating on Earth very recently).
    • Upon losing their homeworld to the Evronians, one of the Xerbian excape ships decide to come to Earth as they had surveilled the planet long enough to know that, with their warlike nature, humans would have a better chance at defending themselves if properly armed, and learned Earth languages in the process.
  • The Green Lantern books handwave this by having as one of the Ring's capabilities (same as for other corps, in fact) a universal translator. The only time it doesn't work right away is with regards to the Indigo Tribe's language. It still doesn't explain other unaffiliated aliens, but at least part of them is covered.
  • Invincible: Parodied when Marks meets the Martians.
    Mark: "Hey, how do you guys speak English?"
    Martian: "What's English?"
  • Justified in the Marvel Universe series Sleepwalker, when the eponymous alien hero learns to speak English because that's the language his human host speaks. The letters page stated that if Sleepwalker had been trapped in the mind of someone who spoke another language, like French or German, he would have begun using that language when he first appeared in the human world.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Evronians, Xerbians and other alien races speak fluently the Language of the protagonist. He once lampshades it, and one alien (a Grilk) explain that his training included other worlds' languages. For the others, Word of God states that they learned it from watching sci-fi movies, and considering both the Trolling Creator status of the PkTeam and the fact at least Evronians, Xerbians, and Coronans had kept an eye on Earth for some time it may or may not be true.
  • Harry Vanderspeigle, the alien protagonist of Resident Alien can speak English; justified in that he actually took the time to learn it.
  • Saga: Most aliens speak English, which is called "Language" in-universe, apart from the people of Wreath speaking Esperanto, known in-universe as "Blue". It becomes awkward to handwave as Translation Convention because letters of the Latin alphabet are mentioned and there's a pun on "Hope" being both a person's name and a word in its own right.
  • In The Scrameustache, the aliens have devices which allow them to learn any language in minutes (first time Khena encountered them, conversation took place in their language, because they had used the device on him while he was sleeping). But the "Aliens have our culture" trope is exaggerated if not parodied: the alien medic wears a red cross.
  • Superman:
    • One Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen story had Jimmy stranded on an alien world where everyone spoke English. The explanation? They had studied the universe's languages and adopted English as the most efficient!
    • Superman's Return to Krypton storyline is set almost entirely in Krypton, but everyone speak English. It's assumed they're speaking Kryptonian, and their speeches have been translated for the readers' sake.
    • Red Daughter of Krypton: Every alien race met by Supergirl speaks English, except by the Diasporan King who, to her surprise, speaks Kryptonian (which is a clue to his real nature). Justified as her Red Ring being a translating device.
    • Last Daughter of Krypton: Unusually averted. Supergirl cannot speak or understand English when she crashes on Earth. She can only guess she is running into hostile people because they keep attacking her.
    • Justified in The Supergirl From Krypton (1959): Alura learned and taught her daughter English before sending her to Earth to meet with Superman (who lived in the USA).
    • The Immortal Superman: Everyone whom Superman meets during his journey across time and space speak English with apparently zero Language Drift. Even astronauts stranded in deep space, whom Superman rescues when he drops by the year 801,970, can communicate with him in twentieth century English.
    • In Superman vs. Shazam!, no English-speaking hero or villain seems to have trouble communicating with Karmang, an ancient White Martian.
    • The Hunt for Reactron: Kara and Thara speak English in a flashback sequence set in Krypton, decades before either of them even hear of a planet named "Earth". A footnote specifically informs that their speech is being translated from Kryptonese.
    • Played straight in Way of the World, where Krallian aliens, as well as an alien conqueror called Dolok, use English to communicate with other alien species.
    • The Day the Cheering Stopped: Subverted in the epilogue, which shows a royal banquet in a faraway alien world. The narrator specifically states the aliens are speaking a language no Earth person has ever heard, but it is translated for the readers' benefit.
    • Supergirl (1984): Justified. Despite being an alien Kara is able to speak, read and write in English because her parents had been monitoring Superman's activities in Earth for a while during which they learned the language.
    • The Death of Lightning Lad: Justified. The message from planet Mernl to the Legion of Super-Heroes was written in English by aliens who knew the language so that the Legionnaires could understand it.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage) the four heroes leave the planet and immediately come upon robots and aliens that speak English (and, in the same town, some who don't).
  • The supplementary material Titan A.E. comics had this:
    "Our credit's no good but you just happen to speak our language"
    "Earth Human Corps got no account here, but everyone know English. Easiest language around."
  • The Transformers (IDW): Officially, most of the characters are speaking Neocybex. However, by some strange coincidence, Neocybex is totally indistinguishable from English at any stage of the comic, to the point where Swerve referring to a freshly-electrified Rodimus (whose name derives from his old name as Hot Rod) as "a lightning Rod" is a bad but otherwise acceptable pun. At one point, Brainstorm's British accent leads to some confusion on whether he's talking about MARBs (repair bays that double as anti-gravity vehicles) or MAABs (battlesuits).
  • Explored by the Vision, from Ultimate Marvel. When Vision first landed in an alien world, the locals had been years trying to decipher the alien warning. By the time they did so, Gah Lak Tus was just three months away. They then completely rebuilt her, specifically adding all the available technologies so that she could translate her warning to any alien language (not just Earth's English) automatically.
  • Venom: Justified with the titular symbiote, since most of its hosts spoke English and it picked up the language over time.
  • In The Wacky Adventures of Pedro, some of the aliens can speak English, but others require a translator. One set of comics subverts this by sending Pedro to an asteroid on which most of the aliens speak Wingdinglish, until he meets a Jive-talker who learns English from watching American TV shows and movies.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Mercurians' speaking English is a plot point, since some ladies managed to pick up a radio broadcast from Earth talking about men supporting the family and doing all the work while the women stay home and they thought that sounded so nice they enslaved all their men.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): While there is definitely a language barrier for Natasha and Wonder Woman in the Sangtee Empire "Julia", a Daxamite, reveals she speaks English near the end of the arc. Amusingly Natasha's English is really bad, and she was working on it with Diana prior to their capture (she's a Russian cosmonaut). Wondy and Natasha pick up the pidgin language spoken in the Empire fairly quickly with some help from others enslaved by the Empire, but English ends up necessary to getting them back home.
  • X-Men: Justified when the X-Men first met the Starjammers and almost all of whom speak English (albeit in varying degrees of coherency). The very next page shows Corsair, the Starjammers' leader, speaking in an American accent with American slang, with the resident telepath reading his mind and confirming that he is human and could have taught them English.
    Nightcrawler: You speak English?
    Ch'od: Doesn't everyone?
  • Occurs without explanation in Zita the Spacegirl. Granted, Zita and (possibly) Joseph are smart kids who are quick on the uptake, but not that quick. A few of the alien background characters do seem to speak their own languages, curiously enough.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dan Dare was always careful to avoid or justify this trope: it was made clear that any aliens who spoke English had learned the language (translator devices were featured, but they were only ever used so that Dan could understand the alien tongues). It was often used as plot point: when Dan was searching for his missing father, aliens who spoke English were proof that Dan was somewhere his father had previously been. A notable complete aversion was the Mercurians, who couldn't have spoken English even if they understood it perfectly, because their mouths were the wrong shape.
  • Comic Zone: Lilo & Stitch: It's Lilo & Stitch. It comes with the territory. That said, Stitch speaks some English in a couple comics, actually speaking full sentences a few times, including one instance ("A Family Affair") where he speaks a complex sentence to Nani in the first person.
  • The Wacky Adventures of Pedro: Some of the aliens Pedro has met can speak English, but others require a translator. One set of comics subverts this by sending Pedro to an asteroid on which most of the aliens speak Wingdinglish, until he meets a Jive-talker who learns English from watching American TV shows and movies.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: The people of Avalon not even come from the same dimension that Shinji and Asuka were born in; still they talk to both pilots in Japanese, German, English, Latin or whatever idiom they feel more comfortable using. Justified since they have pretty advanced idiom-teaching technology.
  • Although they aren't necessarily aliens (they're odd creatures that just so happen to look like aliens), All Mixed Up! has a Tiggle speak in English to Olive and Otto as they ask it what it's doing working the tubes.
  • in the Discworld as envisaged by A.A. Pessimal, most Discworld languages, and indeed their social cultures, are pretty much one-for-one correspondences with Earth. note . This is explained by referring back to The Science of Discworld and the creation event that brought Roundworld (Earth) into being: as a male human Discworld wizard created our universe and our planet, it therefore follows on that human life evolves on Earth and the languages it speaks are those of the (human) world that called us into being. Far from their languages being mirrors of ours - our languages are copies of those of the discworld.
  • In Keepers of the Elements, on all of the magical planets, everyone speaks English.
  • Last Child of Krypton:
    • Shinji, who is Superman and thus has kryptonian DNA.
    • J'onn J'onzz also plays this trope straight when he communicates with Shinji on the Moon.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka, who is half-kryptonian talks English, German and Japanese. Several Superman alien enemies show up like Brainiac and play the trope straight.
  • When the four arrive on C'hou in With Strings Attached, they immediately meet people who speak accented English (much to their relief). Everywhere else they go, everyone speaks English. However, early on, John and Ringo encounter several books in other languages, and Stal mentions that some names (Idri'en Tagen and Raleka) are "old language names." And different races have different styles of names, suggesting derivation from different languages. As the four have other things to think about and are not linguists, they never delve into this topic.
    • When the four return to C'hou in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, everyone, from Natives to outworlders to monsters, speaks English in a wide variety of accents. This is given a Hand Wave by Spectrem, who says that the Pyar gods put a field around the planet so everyone could understand everyone else.
  • The enigmatic Sinner Blue Darks Misfortune: The enigmatic Celestial race can not only speak English fluently, but apparently all the languages known in the universe if need be.
  • Every alien in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series does this.
  • The Star Wars fanfilms TROOPS and IMPS both avert the trope by having various aliens speak in their own language while the stormtroopers speak English/Basic.
  • Averted, then subverted in Fractured (SovereignGFC), a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover. The Trans-Galactic Republic cannot initially understand asari, salarian, turian, etc. but with the help of an asari Mind Meld the barrier is overcome. Then, Translator Microbes show up for the subversion. Language barriers do not come up again after that.
  • There are a few examples in The Lion King Adventures:
    • Alien parasites the Inque and the Vimelea speak English.
    • A soul stealing alien called Shauri not only speaks English, but is a Surfer Dude. This odd speech pattern is the result of the creature washing up on the shores of California.
  • The implementation varies case by case in the Star Trek Online fic Bait and Switch (STO). English is canonically an important Common Tongue of the Federation, and a couple of Breen bit characters are specifically stated to be speaking "accented but intelligible Earth Standard English." In other cases Translation Convention is in effect, and in still others the universal translator is in play.
  • The Next Frontier went to some trouble to justify the trope. The aliens (who in this case are the viewpoint characters for most of the first two acts) learn English from TV, but the process of deciphering the signal to make it useable on their equipment is briefly addressednote  and they're also specifically looking for TV programming aimed at preschoolers. They also have a Subspace Ansible and the linguistics departments of every university in their home solar system working on the problem full-time.
  • Momentarily played with in the Transformers fanfic Eugenesis, where mention is made of someone scrawling graffiti on a building in what to us would read like German, several million years before the German language even existed. Apart from that, though, pretty much everyone speaks English.
  • Averted in In the Shadow of Gods. Master Chief can't understand Tali or Garrus, since they don't speak English (or any human language, for that matter).
  • The World is Your Oyster, The Universe is Your Namesake explores why this is the case in the Steven Universe universe.
  • One Hundred Days (Sgt. Frog): Justified with the insignias on the Keronains' hats which enable them to speak the language closest to their perimeter.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, aliens like Starfire and the Martian Manhunter were presumably able to converse with Earthlings during their time as superheroes, which is justified by their respective powers. Izuku is also one, but he was raised on Earth as a Japanese human in the first place.
    • Later on, Izuku runs into some Kaiju spawn from another dimension. He runs away in terror when they attack him, but when he comes back to apologize for disturbing them, they seem to understand enough Japanese to reach something resembling a mutual understanding with him before slinking away harmlessly. However, they only seem to be able to speak in snarls, screeches, and cackling sounds. Later on, he learns that they can read the books he brings for them and they enjoy video reels about the world outside of Korusan Island.
  • Inverted in To Hell and Back (Arrowverse). Kara has to be taught English when she arrives on Lian Yu, to the point that she still makes some grammatical errors when she initially joins the League of Assassins, although this is quickly solved.
  • Zigzagged in Teen Titans: Together for Tomorrow; Brainiac speaks English, but as a living computer program, he simply downloaded Earth's languages onto his database. Conner and Kara converse perfectly inside the bottled city of Kandor but that seems to be due to Translator Microbes, because she speaks Kryptonian once outside of it. Fortunately, Kara quickly picks up on some basic English, and is really good at deciphering Conner's charades.
  • Inverted in The Dragon King's Temple. SG-1 is (of course), literally speaking English, but sections from the POV of the Asyuntian characters have the English phonetically transliterated to reflect the fact that they don't speak it.
  • In The Institute Saga, Kara struggles to learn English until she gets caught up in Jean Grey's power surge. Jean gains the ability to effectively download languages to Kryptonians as a result, and Kara starts speaking fluent English from that moment onwards.
  • In the Play-By-Email roleplaying game Star Trek: Shadow Operations, Ryramorl Ra'yral and Reepchip Charatetet take pride in actually speaking English, though it's distorted by their non-humanoid facial structure and vocal chords, and they have to speak slowly. In one episode, Reepchip is asked why he doesn't just rely on the Universal Translator. It turns out that while the Universal Translator can keep up to Reepchip's speech just fine, his people speak too rapidly for anyone else.
  • Played with in Animorphs: The Reckoning. The Yeerks speak the languages of their hosts, and the Andalites can communicate ideas telepathically. Ax and Elfangor are also capable of understanding and communicating in English, thanks to a translator implant.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, all alien races in the thirtieth century speak English. Generally, Translation Convention must be assumed.
  • Kara of Rokyn: Everyone in planet Rokyn seems to speak English. Rokynians knowing the language is justified in what their civilization had came in contact with Earth and their two most prominent heroes live in USA.
  • Eiga Sentai Scanranger: Lampshaded in "Scanranger vs. Jetman", although it mainly serves to call attention to how neither story bothered until the characters had to interact with people from their own planet who speak a different language.
  • In Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation, Tal Thorn is a Rannian, but thanks to his Green Lantern Ring he can understand and speak English.
  • Fallout (Transformers): Vortex has to download a human language after meeting Jazz and Thundercracker. Wildrider can also speak Russian, and speaks with a (technically fake) accent, due to having rather liked the Russian humans he stuck with for a while. Arcee can speak Chinese.
  • In A Force of Four, neither of the four villains have born or lived in Earth, but all of them speak English, even among themselves.
  • Mork from Happy Daze mainly speaks English, with a few nonsense words thrown in.
  • Lampshaded for laughs in the Invader Zim fic The Last Irken. When Dib questions why he's understood every alien he's ever met, Zim says that all aliens speak English, and he definitely didn't put an auto-translator on Dib's skull when he wasn't looking.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: The two aliens Rhino meets in "The Spaceship" are able to speak English using translation collars. Or at least eventually, anyway — they first try Croatian and Filipino, misunderstanding the hamster when he tries to speak what he believes to be outer-space language.
  • Averted in Rocketship Voyager. Lacking a Universal Translator, the crew have no way of communicating with the aliens they encounter on the other side of the galaxy until they find one willing to perform the melding-of-minds. When Voyager is approached by a large convoy of spacecraft, Captain Janeway orders her radio operator to just start transmitting in any language, so hopefully they'll realise that Voyager wanted to talk instead of shoot, even if they couldn't understand the words.
  • Averted in If I Could Start Again. Thor and Loki speak any language thanks to the All-Speak, but they need to purchase translators for Natasha and Clint when they arrive on Sakaar since they can't understand any of the languages being spoken.
  • In Man of Steel fanfiction Daughter of Fire and Steel, General Zod's crew appear to have no trouble understanding English when they approach Earth and tap into the global networking grid.
  • Sasha and the Frogs: Lampshade Hanging. Sasha notes that all the local text is in English.
  • Justified in For the Glory of Irk, as Irken PAKs translate all languages both ways, so that they can understand anything being said to them, while anyone they talk to hears their own language.
  • The Owl House fanfic Not Human (or Anything Remotely Similarly has Luz note this trope and muse that whatever her Witch friends are speaking is probably not English. A later chapter confirms this: 'Common' language is functionally English, and it isn't being 'auto-translated' as Luz's first language is Spanish, not English. Luz's friends are very confused about the idea of having a ton of languages.
  • Becoming a True Invader:
    • Inverted. Zim claims that the humans are actually speaking Irken rather than him speaking English, suggesting it's a result of Ancient Astronauts.
    • Similarly, the Employer claims that the Spanish he speaks in is his native language, but denies it actually being Spanish.
  • I'm Nobody: For some reason, all the people from the Kingdom Hearts universe - who are treated as aliens - are speaking English despite not having the typical translation tools used in the Mass Effect universe. The only exception to this is Stitch, who has his own native language that no one can understand and is trying to learn English the hard way.
  • The Pirate's Soldier: While it's not specified which language he's using, Heero seems a bit surprised during his first encounter with Ryoko and Ayeka that they're able to understand him. As the rest of the alien girls continue to arrive, they're perfectly able to converse and interact with him and the rest of the Earthlings without issue.

    Films — Animation 
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: The Yolkians understand Jimmy's transmission instantly and the kids understand them with no indication that they're speaking anything but English.
  • Lilo & Stitch: Justified in Stitch's case, he's super-intelligent and learns it over the course of the film. As for the other aliens, not even handwaved.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe: The aliens in this film do not need any sort of translation device to speak with the main characters. Played with when Super Super Big Doctor gives her name, and later uses alien terms when speaking about her annoying little brothers. As a gag she also says the word roller coaster must be made up.
  • The Boov from Home (2015) all speak English, but in a very fractured form. In The True Meaning of Smekday, the book Home is based on, this is actually Justified Trope: they had been abducting bilingual humans for some time before the full-scale invasion specifically to learn Earth languages. They still don't speak English very well, but manage to communicate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien Nation: Most Newcomers become fluent in English very quickly after their ship crashes on Earth. It only takes George Francisco three months to become fluent in English after his arrival on Earth. Among themselves they still prefer to speak their own language. By the time the series came along Newcomers often spoke English even when there were no humans around, with some becoming concerned that the Newcomer language would become extinct in the coming years due to the adoption of English by the Newcomers.
  • In Avatar it's explained Grace opened up a school for the Na'vi and taught them English several years before the film opened. The school was also shut down some time before the film started.
  • The Beastmaster: In the second film, it turns out that the people of Dar's world (including him) all speak English (rather than it being Translation Convention). No one comments, and it's never explained.
  • Justified in Buckaroo Banzai. The Red Lectroids originally came to the U.S. back in 1938, so they've had plenty of time to learn English. The Black Lectroids have apparently been studying the Earth for a long time while they were keeping an eye on the Red Lectroid refugees.
  • Jake, the alien cat from The Cat from Outer Space "speaks" English using a form of telepathy thanks to his translator collar.
  • Coneheads pepper their speech with both English and Remulakian. However, the English has no slang and sounds like it was read straight from a book.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). The remake one-ups this by having Klaatu speak Mandarin Chinese.
  • In the DC Extended Universe,
    • In Man of Steel, the scenes on Krypton could have been Translation Convention, and of course Clark has spent nearly his whole life on Earth, but it gets a little weird when the other Kryptonians have little trouble speaking perfect English as soon as they land. The landing message demanding Clark's surrender was broadcast all over the world, shown in whatever the native language of the area is. We can assume that they've figured out how to communicate in whatever languages are necessary.
    • While they're not aliens, in Aquaman (2018), are never shown a spoken language dedicated to the underwater worlds besides those written. All underwater beings capable of speech speak in English.
  • Devil Girl from Mars: Lampshaded, and borderline-parodied:
    Man: You speak English?
    Nyah: Of course!
    Man: What about other languages?
    Nyah: No; why should I?
  • Earth Girls Are Easy had the furry human aliens learning English via television — resulting in them imitating Jerry Lewis and James Dean, and asking questions like "Are we limp and hard to manage?"
  • In Galaxy Quest, everything has been learnt by the aliens from "the historical documents". The Thermians still had to use translators (Laliari's broke down in the limo). Presumably, Sarris had one as well. Especially since it's unlikely his Lizard Folk race have something called "tissue paper". It's likely he used his own race's material with similar structure, and the translator rendered it as "tissue paper".
  • Garuda Superhero, an Indonesian film, have aliens landing in Indonesia and speaking the native language, no problems.
  • Lampshaded in the Turkish film G.O.R.A., as Akif points out how hard it is to tell apart the Turks and the aliens. However, the lingua franca here in Turkish, and there are several non-Turkish earthlings who cannot communicate with the aliens.
  • The History of Future Folk: People from the planet Hondo speak English. Trius uses English in broadcasts to the planet, and Kevin speaks English right off the ship.
  • Independence Day: Averted. The Harvesters do not speak our language. They communicate with us through telepathy.
  • In the Name of the King 3: Last Mission: the hero is whisked away from modern-day Bulgaria (where the locals all speak Bulgarian-accented English) to a fantasy universe where everyone speaks Bulgarian-accented English.
  • Everyone in Jupiter Ascending not from Earth speaks English and it is never even handwaved away. It gets to the point where even the writing in the alien spaceships and bureaucratic offices is in English. A bit jarring, since even Jupiter's family doesn't exclusively speak English.
  • Centauri from The Last Starfighter apparently speaks English without the need for a translator device. Though considering the fact that he had to have spent considerable time on Earth while developing and marketing the Starfighter video game, it makes sense. Also handwaved for most of the entire outer space portion of the movie as one of the first things Alex Rogan has done is have a 'translator' embedded in him — so the aliens are not speaking English... he's hearing them in English. The Ko-Dan still talk amongst each other in English, although this is likely standard Translation Convention.
  • Mars Attacks!: Averted. The Martians speak their own language. The humans have a translator, but the first time they try to use it, the results make no sense. Oddly, in a later scene where it does work right, it's shown that the Martians can perfectly understand human language.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • When Thor arrives on Earth after being banished in his first movie, he wakes up and starts instantly speaking fluent English, even though he's from Asgard, a realm that apparently speaks something akin to Old Norse. So far, it's not been established whether the "Allspeak" ability from the comics exists (though it's mentioned in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Asgardians are expected to learn the languages of other races), but he is able to instantly communicate with Groot in Avengers: Infinity War.
      Rocket: You speak Groot?
      Thor: Yes, they taught it on Asgard. It was an elective.
      • The first episode of Loki has the title character attempting to talk to a group of Mongolians, and neither he nor they can understand one another. This strongly suggests that it is just down to learning languages, and that Loki has never learned Mongolian.
    • Thor: The Dark World: Malekith can communicate directly and fluently with Asgardians (who seem to speak English since they can converse with Americans). The Dark Elves have their own tongue but he is the only one seen using any language besides that.
    • The "cosmic" MCU films feature countless alien races all communicating in mostly perfect English, complete with different accents and dialects, with only a few issues like Drax not understanding figurative language of any sort and Groot only being able to say the words "I am Groot"; however, it's clear that most of this is just Translation Convention for the viewer's sake. Additionally, Word of God outright states that most space-faring types have a two-way universal translator implanted in their bodies, which is very briefly shown early in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) when "translator implant in neck" is shown on Peter Quill's rap sheet after he is arrested, implying that he actually is hearing everything in English. However, this still leaves the question of how specific Earth-based metaphors and even hand gestures are universally understood by just about everyone (apparently the middle finger is offensive even on planet Xandar).
    • A similar Hand Wave happens in Captain Marvel, where Carol checks to make sure her Universal Translator is working after arriving on Earth.
    • Played with in Eternals: In the flashbacks to ancient times, the Eternals only speak to humans in whatever the local language is, after taking the time to learn it, making it clear that their speaking English to each other is a Translation Convention. Where this becomes a little odd is that, in the present day and more recent flashbacks where modern English exists and is widely spoken, it's still not made clear what language they speak to each other since they obviously weren't speaking English before.
  • Muppets from Space: Gonzo's family all speak English.
  • Justified in Our Friend Power 5; the aliens can speak perfect Korean because being able to adapt and communicate regardless of where they are is their special power.
  • Lampshaded in Paul, as seen on the quotes page. He actually does speak English, what with him having several decades to learn the language.
  • Planet 51: Lem and Chuck tell each other "You speak ... my language." Some viewers expect a "Rigelian" joke a la The Simpsons (see Western Animation below), but the native name remains unrevealed.
  • Zig-zagged in Planet of the Apes (1968). The apes all speak English, but that's because they were on Earth all along. Yet the fact that the human astronauts believe they are on a different planet for most of the movie, and are somehow never clued in to the truth by the apes' English fluency, demonstrates this trope regardless of the ending.
  • Predators in the Predator movies record, play back and imitate human phrases, but never come up with their own. It's left a bit murky as to how well they actually understand what they're saying, but it's usually good enough to lure unwary humans into their grasp. They understand it enough to make an Ironic Echo when appropriate. At the end of Predator 2, one alien messes with a necklace (translator device?) before saying 'Take it. Keep it.' (although only "take it" is subtitled) and handing over a dueling pistol.
  • Queen of Outer Space. The Venusians speak English because they have been monitoring our "electronic waves". Strangely the Venusians who first capture our heroes speak (albeit accented) English to their Mission Control, yet use Gratuitous Foreign Language when addressing the Earthmen.
    Brunette Venusian: [into communicator] We have found the intruders.
    Yllana: [offscreen] Good, bring them in.
    Lt. Turner: They speak English!
    Redheaded Venusian: Go, go, go!
    Prof. Konrad: I believe we better accept the invitation.
    Lt. Cruze: Yeah, the way those shooting irons of theirs work, I'm with you, Doc.
    Blonde Venusian: [Remonstrating with a Gun] Bacchino. Bacchino!
    Lt. Turner: Well, you heard what the babe said. Bacchino.
  • Race to Witch Mountain: The aliens can speak English. Albeit, Spock Speak.
  • The Transylvanians in The Rocky Horror Picture Show are all capable of both speaking (and singing) in English. It's implied they learned how to speak English from watching old "B" movies such as King Kong (1933).
  • All the extraterrestrial in Shin Ultraman apparently speaks Japanese fluently and the film gives different reasons for each of them. Zarab doesn't actually speaks Japanese and uses Translator Microbes instead. Mefilas has been on Earth for sometime before the movie even starts. Ultraman himself presumably gets his Japanese skills from his merger with Shinji Kaminaga. Zoffy speaking Japanese is unexplained, but since he only speaks to Ultraman, presumably Translation Convention is happening.
  • Skyline: Averted. The aliens do not speak English.
  • Played with in Starman, where the title character knows some of Earth's languages, but only from what was aboard Voyager II. Hilarity Ensues as he tries to comprehend simple phrases such as "Take it easy". He is a bit more fluent by the end, but still speaks in broken sentences.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: The Vulcan envoy addresses Cochrane with the traditional Vulcan greeting, "Live long and prosper" in clear English, despite this being the Vulcans' first encounter with humans and no evident Translator Microbes. However, it had long been established in the novels (and would later be canonized in Enterprise) that the Vulcans had been observing Earth for decades by this point, and they made First Contact now because it occurred during one of these survey missions.
  • Star Wars, the majority of characters speak English (or the viewers' language, translated). This is usually referred to as 'Galactic Basic', a common galactic language.
    • Some of the finer moments in the original trilogy are when this trope is inverted: two characters converse, each in their own language, with no subtitles provided - Han and Chewie throughout; Uncle Owen and the Jawas, Han and Greedo at Mos Eisley; Han and Jabba in Docking Bay 94; the "spy" and stormtroopers at Mos Eisley; C-3PO and R2-D2 throughout; Luke and R2-D2, Han and the droid at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back; C-3PO and the other protocol droid at Bespin; C-3PO and Jabba on Tatooine, Luke and Jabba on Tatooine; and Lando conversing with his copilot in Return of The Jedi come to mind.
    • The beginning of The Phantom Menace could have used a lot more of this. It did have at least one instance however, Little Annie and Sebulba.
    • It's explained in the expanded universe that "Basic" is the human language, and because of demographics, the common interspecies language. However, some non-humans can understand basic but not speak it. Inverted in one of the Expanded Universe novels when Leia goes to Kashyyyk and has difficulty understanding the Wookiees, aside from one, a professional greeter who explains rather sheepishly that he has a speech impediment which makes it easier for "Basic Speakers" to understand. The Greek alphabet also appears in various instances in the EU. The appearance of Greek letters in-universe was eventually explained as being called the Tionese alphabet (Tion being a planet that already existed in SW lore and was of some significance at some point in the galaxy's history).
    • In the first edition, there were some English words on computer screens. Replaced by the fictional alphabet Aurebesh in DVD edition (it's still English, it just uses different symbols for the letters).
    • Darth Vader's chest plate has Hebrewnote  script on it, and has since the beginning, so they've never relied entirely on the Roman alphabet. Always relied on Earth alphabets, yes, but not always Roman.
    • Meanwhile, information written in real-world script instead of Aurebesh is referred to as "High Galactic."
  • Justified in Steps Trodden Black: According to Meddler, the whole galaxy just switched to English because they knew English speakers would never bother to learn a second language and this would be easier. It's not clear if this is true in-universe, or if he's just messing with Oliver.
  • In Superman II, the humans understand the Kryptonians who just came to Earth. It's not that every human speaks fluent alien; whenever the perspective switches to a human, these Kryptonians can still be heard speaking English.
  • In the Soviet sci-fi Teens in the Universe, both the Cassiopeians and their Ridiculously Human Robots initially communicate in short whistles that are translated by the teens' Soviet-made translation device (the device can even translate dog barks). One of the teens even mentions in her log that the whistles are indistinguishable to the human ear. The robots quickly switch to English after observing humans for a short while... and even communicate among themselves in English instead of their normal whistles. The Cassiopeians are quickly able to learn English after asking the teens to give them the Russian alphabet and a list of commonly-used words, which the translation device provides. Funny enough, when Lob tries to communicate with two robots by writing out a mathematical formula, one of the robots corrects his mistake, which indicates that they understand the Latin alphabet, Arabic numerals, and mathematical symbols. Their own writing is incomprehensible to humans.
  • In the Transformers Film Series, the Transformers assimilated languages from the world wide web. Word of God states that Megatron in the first film, who was frozen inside the Hoover Dam since its construction, picked up languages from the nearby scientists and engineers. Weirdly enough, in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, Megatron and Starscream have entire conversations in plain English despite not talking to any humans in particular. In the novelization of the first film, Optimus tries to speak Mandarin Chinese to Sam and Mikaela when they meet, which the teens hypothesize that he's trying the language with the highest number of speakers on Earth.

  • Two aliens are sitting in a pub. One of them turns to the other and says, 'plububulaBBHAJGGIUI@@#GJKG?' The other one replies, 'Dude, you are seriously shitfaced.'

  • Lampshaded in a The Adventures of Samurai Cat tale. The duo are on an alien ship trying to decipher the controls, and find that they're actually labelled in Japanese. Then they realise that, despite being from 17th century Japan, they were speaking English.
  • Zig-zagged in the Alice, Girl from the Future series. There are clear cases of Translation Convention of aliens using an interstellar Common Tongue (the Cosmolingua) or the native language of some planet or other, but sometimes (like in One Hundred Years Ahead) there are aliens speaking perfect Russian. It is mentioned that languages can get mastered extremely quickly (several minutes with a hypnopedia if you want it to stick in your head for a short while only, several days if you want to learn it for good), but this explanation isn't provided every time. Fairytale creatures from different countries in The Time of Myths also speak excellent Russian, and this time no explanation is given at all.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks are apparently teaching various hosts (Hork-Bajir especially) English so they can talk to each other. Their alternatives were Taxxon (good luck pronouncing it without a several-foot tongue), the Hork-Bajir or Gedd languages (too simple), or some other Earth language (pointless as most of their human hosts knew English already). On the whole though this isn't too improbable. Human-Controllers' Yeerks would know English from their hosts' memories, and Hork-Bajir speak a strange mix of Galard and English ("Stop that gafrash shooting, logafach."). Taxxon-speak is said to be almost impossible to decipher, even for Controllers.
    • The free Hork-Bajir likewise speak mostly (crude) English mixed with their native language, but their Seer (who has genius-level intelligence by human standards, even) speaks flawless English — leading a National Guard commander to remark about the "aliens speaking more perfect English than [his] troops." In the fifth book of the series, the characters interact with a Hork-Bajir that speaks perfect English, that Marco describes as sound liking "he'd been educated at Harvard". One Seer is apparently born per generation to the Hork-Bajir, so maybe this one was the Seer for his generation. It is also revealed in "Visser" that Hork-Bajir brains actually mangle the different languages together naturally. Which means even when controlled by a Yeerk, the Yeerk will find themselves mixing the languages as well.
    • The Andalites are a telepathic species so when they "speak" an English speaking listener hears English and translator chips so they can understand languages spoken to them.
    • The Nesk learned English by spying on humans for a very short period of time. A character even comments on how weird it is that random aliens speak English.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The Gods Themselves works around averting this trope too, built around two parallel universes. A human-built energy pump is sucking energy from the other dimension in order to provide Earth with an supply of apparently free energy. The first third of the book revolves around the receipt of an alien message by a journalist, Lamont; he recruits Bronowski, a professor of archaeo-linguistics, to decipher the symbols. In the second part, we see the aliens' side of the exchange. This work also has aliens mastering English through empathy.
    • "The Watery Place": The "foreigners" speak perfect English, except for having a stilted sense of pronunciation, saying each word separately rather than running them together like many-ynglish-shpeaking folksdo. They admit to having watched our society and learning our language before approaching us.
    • "What Is This Thing Called Love?": The alien researcher has spent months studying humanity from a spy cell on Earth. It learned English (and about our sexual lives) from capturing public broadcasts. They don't normally use sound to communicate, so English is difficult to mimic, but it is reasonably close.
  • S.P. Meek apparently thought this was too absurd a trope to use in his 1931 story Awlo of Ulm. Instead, his miniature Serkis Folk spoke (very bad) Hawaiian. For no apparent reason and without so much as being lampshaded. If you think that's bad, but keep reading anyways, you're in for a time...
  • Semi-averted in Beyond the Impossible: people from other planets do speak in English, but with the Greek alphabet to distinguish them (it’s treated like a different language though). Demon talk is spelled with Arabic font but it's unintelligible.
  • In one story in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, one of the humans compliments an alien on how good his English is — only for the alien to respond drily that the language was invented by his direct ancestors.
  • Codex Alera: All the various alien races speak Aleran (the language of the human protagonists, presumably some derivative of Latin). The Marut use it as a trade language between their various tribes, the Canim generally don't speak Aleran but their ambassadors learn it because they wish to be able to speak to Alerans, the Icemen are telepathic and therefore don't really need spoken languages, and the Vord use it because the Vord queen was awakened by the blood of an Aleran and absorbed knowledge from him.
  • In Timothy Zahn's own-universe Conqueror's Pride, the alien species interact normally with humans, although the Yycromae speak in what appears to be a telepathic connection rather than conventional speech. The Zhirrzh, which capture Pheylan Cavanagh, have a struggle developing a medium through which to interrogate him and Pheylan sometimes wonders how to convey complicated human concepts, such as his physical need for sunlight, through their limited comprehension of English. Zahn has obviously thought about this trope and tried hard to avert it.
  • In Galaxy of Fear, all intelligent aliens save Chewbacca are rendered as if speaking Basic. Odd considering the verse's fondness for Bilingual Dialogue. Even Jabba the Hutt speaks Basic — Shadows of the Empire shows that he can, but normally he doesn't.
  • In the Goosebumps Series 2000 book Brain Juice, the alien villains, who love talking about how much smarter they are than humans, mock the question of how they speak English — they learned it in an hour before landing on Earth. Their language has four hundred words just to say "hello!"
  • Harry Harrison:
    • Spoofed in Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers. Every alien race the heroes come across has "listened to your radio broadcasts" and learned fluent English for one reason or another.
    • But the radio version is played straight in Invasion: Earth. The aliens in question speak fluent English and Russian, having picked up on the most common broadcasts (having come during the Cold War). Later on, when they need to talk without being overheard, the two protagonists (an American soldier and a Russian linguist) switch to Spanish, which the aliens didn't bother to learn.
  • In His Dark Materials, it is discussed between Lyra and Will, who are both from Oxford, just in different parallel universes. There are slight differences in certain words, though.
    • In Cittigazze, which is supposed to be a Mediterranean land on another parallel Earth, the residents still speak English.
    • Averted on the Mulefa's parallel Earth. Mary spends some time trying to learn their language. Being elephant-like creatures, part of their language involves movements of the trunk along with words, so she has to use her arms to speak as well. They also learn a little English from her.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • Handwaved by the Babelfish, a very small organism that went into your ear and read brainwaves to act as a universal translator.
    • Additionally within The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, some words and phrases have almost universal phonetic equivalents in every other language, even though the meanings often vary considerably. Examples include:
      • There is, in any society advanced enough to make mixed drinks, a drink that sounds like 'gin and tonic', for instance, and throughout the known universe, our planet is the only one which uses 'Belgium' to mean something other than the most extreme profanity.
      • We're shunned for using the word 'cricket' to refer to a ball game, as the rest of the galaxy still remembers the Krikkit Wars. The equipment used to play cricket on Earth strongly resembles the Earth-Shattering Kaboom-scale weaponry used in the wars, which is considered by other races to be extremely tactless of us.
      • Additionally, there are phrases such as "I seem to be having this tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle" that will occasionally fall through a rip in time-space, and starting an intergalactic war because of its interpretation as a huge threat/insult at an alien conference table.
      • In the book of the original radio series scripts, author Douglas Adams explains this as the reason every alien in fiction can speak perfect English. Everyone has a Babel Fish in their ear.
  • The souls from The Host (2008) can speak English, but only the ones who've got human hosts, and only because their host would have known it first (assuming that the host did speak English, of course. The story's set in America, though, so for our purposes it's a moot point).
  • I Am Number Four and its sequel The Power of Six for English and Spanish. Justified given that not only have they lived on Earth for ten years, but the Loric race has had much contact with humankind over the last few millenia, to the point of procreating with humans and producing exceptionally gifted hybrids, including the Greek gods, Buddha, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.
  • In Justice Squad, one gathering of aliens is revealed to have adopted an Earth language due to it being so primitive that every advanced alien species is able to translate to and from it...but the language is German instead of English. English is still known, but used more for backroom deals, and only known by the less rule-abiding species.
  • Lumbanico The Cubic Planet: The setting is a planet whose inhabitants have never met another alien civilization, let alone heard of a planet called "Earth". And yet, all Lumbanicians speak Spanish. It is never spelled out whether their language really sounds like Spanish or it has been translated by the readers' benefit. It does not help that Lumio, the ancestor of Lumbanico's current lingua franca, is remarkably similar to Latin.
  • "Mark Delewen and the Space Pirates": In this Short Story, aliens apparently use Arabic numerals.
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs: Justified in the case of the Snergs and the Dutch seamen who could have learned English to communicate with the colony. Though, it is not explained how the inhabitants of King Keul's realm, who have apparently spent a long time in isolation, can speak modern English fluidly.
  • Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson: Every alien world Maureen visits is filled with English speakers. Maureen is confused by this, but no one has any explanation.
  • The Neverending Story: Or, in this case, German. When Bastian enters Fantastica, he has no problem conversing with anyone — which actually makes sense, since Fantastica isn't a self-contained fantasy world separate from ours, but made up of dreams, tales and fantasies complementary to our reality. Of course they'd also speak our language there.
  • In the short story "On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy" by Desmond Warzel, the aliens speak perfect English; for at least two of them, however, this is justified, as they've been hiding out in suburban Cleveland and would need to speak English to blend in.
  • C. S. Lewis averts the trope at the end of Out of the Silent Planet: the academic main character, who has lived with the alien planet's natives and learned some of their language, is recruited by a human Corrupt Corporate Executive to translate a speech full of flowery white-man's-burden rhetoric about why they should let him colonize their planet and take their resources. The main character does his best to render it within the grasp of his basic Alienese and ends up completely exposing the antagonist's agenda without twisting a single word. The main character is a Philologist, and it took him several weeks to come up with a basic understanding of the language. In addition, a bunch of the plot of the next two books hinges on the fact that the main character can now speak Alienese, which it turns out is the universal tongue of everything outside of Earth, including Martians, Venusians, and angels of heaven. This allows him to act as an agent for the interests of Heaven in a way that Satan and his minions never anticipated.
  • Phoenix in Shadow: The protagonists discover a lost realm in a remote valley that's been cut off from the rest of the world for thousands of years, but everyone in it speaks the same language as the protagonists. The protagonists note how unlikely this is, and it turns out to be a hint that the valley isn't as cut off as most of its inhabitants believe.
  • Explained in The Radiant Dawn. The Wutner craft orbiting Earth has been doing so since at least the beginning of the zombie war. The aliens aboard have been listening to us with advanced devices, and as such have decoded our language and developed programming for their universal translators.
  • In Riesel Tales: Two Hunters, a distant-future variant of English exists with several dialects (collectively "Ninth Millennium English"), and there are non-Humans who speak it alongside Humans.
  • In Space Marine Battles, this happens from time to time. In Purging of Callidus the Orks speak perfect Gothic and in Fall of Damnos the Necrons exploit this to taunt and break the Damnosians.
  • The Science of Discworld: The wizards from the Discworld, when visiting Earth, can always communicate with the locals — not just the English-speaking ones, but ancient Greeks just as easily. Given that the author is a keenly aware satirist (Terry Pratchett) together with two others who wrote a book about how alien real aliens could be, it seems incredible that they would not be aware of the problem. Granted, Rincewind is on board. Being set in the Trope Namer for the Theory of Narrative Causality might also have something to do with it.
  • People in dozens of different worlds in Spider Circus speak English. However it's justified because the circus travels to those worlds specifically so the performers can be understood. There's some explanation for why one language is spoken in so many different worlds but it's Metaphorgotten and we do get a quick glimpse into a world where Latin appears to be the main language.
  • The StarCraft novel Queen of Blades (by Aaron Rosenberg) seems to have a bad case of this, with Jim Raynor encountering Zerg Cerebrates and Overlords that speak aloud in English, conveniently letting him eavesdrop. It turns out he was actually unconsciously hearing their telepathic voices through his latent connection to Kerrigan. Zeratul even comments that the Zerg don't speak any language.
  • Initially handled the usual way in the Star Trek novel The Three Minute Universe, only to be heartwarmingly played straight when a young Sacker who looked up to Scotty learned to speak English on its own in just a few days by listening to him talk. Scotty was equal parts honored and impressed by this accomplishment.
  • Justified in The Tripods. Because We Are as Mayflies to the Masters, it's easier for them to learn the languages spoken by their human slaves, who don't live long anyway due to the conditions under which they work.
  • The mi-go in H. P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness speak English, but that's because they've been on Earth in secret long enough to learn our languages. And it's mentioned that they need surgical help in order to even produce the sounds necessary for human speech. They communicate with each other by telepathy, as well as bioluminescent colour shifts. They speak by buzzing, which sounds creepy and abnormal even though they can technically get the English sounds just right.
  • It's implied that Ozians in Wicked don't read in English. Kansas-born Dorothy can read a book but most other characters don't. Despite this, there's no language issue between Dorothy and the Oz characters.
  • In Christopher Stasheff's A Wizard in Rhyme series, the Ordinary High-School Student protagonist transports himself to the story's alternate universe by deciphering a Summon Magic spell. The problem is, the alternate universe is a Fantasy Counterpart Version of Medieval Europe, and he explicitly learned their version of French. Then he goes and has adventures with Italians, Germans/Austrians, even Muslims, and yet there is no language barrier. French actually was a widely-used international language for quite a bit of the middle ages. Several of the people he meets are visibly uncomfortable with it as a second language (especially the Arabs), and he occasionally has to fall back on magical translation.
  • In Worm, Scion can speak and understand every language on Earth, although he only speaks on extremely rare occasions. Justified, since he is the source of many of the story's superpowers; his ability to speak human languages is literally supernatural.
  • X: Farnham's Legend: After being knocked across the galaxy by a jumpdrive test Gone Horribly Wrong, Kyle Brennan is surprised beyond belief to be hailed in Japanese by an alien vessel. It turns out later they learned it from a Lost Colony of humans who have become one of the major powers in these parts; Japanese is now the region's Common Tongue.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 3rd Rock from the Sun, the aliens seem to be fluent in all Earth languages. In one episode, Harry turned on a Hispanic channel and all the Solomons started conversing in Spanish until they realized it wasn't the dominant language in Ohio. In another episode, Dick tested Tommy's intelligence by asking him questions in various languages.
  • In the pilot episode of ALF, Willie's radio intercepts ALF's spaceship and then ALF's voice comes out, but he appears to be speaking a different language. Then, when ALF is brought into the house, he not only speaks English, but he speaks English fluently, tells pop culture jokes and apparently, so do other Melmacians. Also, anytime that we see a book from Melmac, it is in English. How contradictory!
  • Babylon 5: Shows up quite often, though it's usually justified in some way.
    • English is stated to be "the human language of commerce", which explains why most people in a major human-built hub of trade and diplomacy can speak or at least understand it. English was one of several languages Delenn had to learn for her role as ambassador. In the Beginning shows that she had been studying humans since before the Earth-Minbari War.
    • Word of God is that Translation Convention is usually in effect whenever you have members of a certain species conversing with others of their own race. Lampshaded in "Lines of Communication". When the aliens who've been raiding League shipping lines begin communicating, Lennier says (in English) to Delenn that the (English) speech the aliens are speaking is not the communications system translating their language into Minbari but actual Minbari. (Since Lennier had only sent the aliens the language package for Interlac, because it was easier to master than Minbari, this alerts Delenn that they must have had contact with a Minbari before - cue The Mole drawing a gun on her.)
    • The Soul Hunter claims he has been to Earth before.
    • The aliens in the second part of "A Voice in the Wilderness" download the station's language files, though they speak with a very thick accent. The alien captain appears to be reading it out phonetically.
    • The Walkers of Sigma-957 initially don't speak English, though they clearly understand it. They do leave with a message in English. Being First Ones, they probably can speak any language of the younger races.
      Ivanova: At least that tells us they understand our language, they're just not willing to speak to us in it.
      Marcus: Who knew they were French?
  • On Battlestar Galactica (2003) and its prequel Caprica, Caprican is English, Leonese is French, Old Gemenese is Romanian, and Tauron is Greek. The showrunners confirmed this isn't a Translation Convention, but one of the many similarities between Colonial and Earth culture thanks to the "universal subconscious".
  • Commonly Zig-Zagged in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Almost every demon speaks English, even ones in alternate dimensions, until it's more dramatic for one not to.
    • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ampata learned the language after all the years that she was touring all over the country.
    • With a case of demons speaking English, in Angel the inhabitants of the demon dimension Pylea speak English and communicate with dimensional travellers without problem, but their books are still written in strange demonic tongue that takes effort from a person familiar with the dialect to translate.
    • Frankly, the only way that Angel's son Connor having an American accent makes sense is if the demons in Quor'toth, where he was raised, speak American English, given that he was raised by British vampire hunter Daniel Holtz and had no other human contact there since infancy.
  • Crusade, the short-lived sequel series to Babylon 5, played with this trope in its homage episode to The X-Files, "Visitors From Down The Street". After rescuing a pair of aliens of a previously-unknown race who unexpectedly speak English, the Excalibur is hailed by an alien ship — again in English. Captain Gideon comments sarcastically that either they're the same race as the others, or there's a busy English teacher running around that part of the galaxy.
  • Justified with Defiance's Votan population as they're trying to integrate into a mostly human society. They do often speak their own languages as well.
  • Doctor Who:
    • It gets around this one by having the Doctor being able to mentally translate for his companions, who rarely think anything odd about the fact they understood them. One of the Doctor's earlier companions did ask him once, but they were interrupted before he could answer and it was never brought up again. In the revival of the show that began in 2005, the translation is mentioned on more than one occasion to be performed by the Doctor's vehicle, the TARDIS, which is telepathically linked to the Doctor to the point that when he is unconscious, the translation fails. This became a plot point in "The Christmas Invasion", where an alien speech slowly turns into understandable English, indicating that the Doctor is back in action and ready to deliver the smackdown.
    • It often plays the trope straight, however, when aliens invade Earth. "Journey's End" features Daleks that speak (bad) German when they invade Germany. Exterminieren! Exterminieren!
    • Parodied in "Rose", where Rose isn't so much fazed by the Doctor speaking English, but by his very distinct Northern accent.
      Rose: If you really are an alien, how comes you sound like you're from the North?
      The Doctor: [defensively] Lots of planets have a North!
    • At one point in the original series, it's stated that the translation is supposed to be unnoticeable. The fact that Sarah Jane Smith stops to wonder why she can understand Italian (in The Masque of Mandragora) is evidence to the Doctor that something is wrong.
    • "The Pilot": Bill, after learning the Doctor is an alien, has a question.
      Bill: TARDIS. If you're from another planet, why would you name your box in English? Those initials wouldn't work in any other language!
      The Doctor: People don't generally bring that up.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" has its antagonist able to speak perfect English without contact with the Doctor and the TARDIS (which is missing for the entirety of the episode). He could have learned it from his data coil, however. In addition, his species has come to Earth before.
    • "The Ghost Monument" lampshades and justifies it by having the companions get injected with universal translators while in medical pods recovering from their brief jaunt in the vacuum of space at the beginning. Graham is less than thrilled at being jabbed with alien stuff two adventures in a row. The Doctor points out that the translators wouldn't be necessary if they had the TARDIS around.
  • Drake & Josh: Parodied in an episode where Drake and Josh try to scare Megan making her believe that her radio is getting signals from aliens. While Josh tries some "alien-sounding" gibberish, Drake starts speaking some random words in French, which outrages Josh.
    Josh: We're supposed to sound like we're from outer space, NOT PARIS!
  • In Earth: Final Conflict, it's originally stated that the Taelons learned English because their own language is virtually impossible for humans to master. However, this doesn't explain why they continue speaking English among themselves. Later on, they don't even bother explaining how the Jaridians or the Atavus know English and why they speak it among themselves, especially since the Atavus have been in stasis for hundreds of thousands of years.
  • In Emerald City, the Ozians have languages of their own, but some of them also speak English, which also seems to be the official language spoken in the Wizard's domain. This is how the dog gets its name. "Toto" is the Tribes' word for "dog", and Dorothy decides it's as good a name as any, since she hasn't had a chance to find out the dog's real name from the cop.
  • Farscape handwaves the issue with Translator Microbes. These enable characters from different cultures to understand each other with ease, including the human Crichton. Notably, some of Crichton's sayings (such as "fed up") don't translate properly, leading to some confusion. According to the series (though this is sometimes forgotten; see below), anyone that has translator microbes can understand anyone else - whether or not they have them. (In "Self-Inflicted Wounds", the crew encounter the Pathfinders, who have never made contact with the other species. The crew understands them perfectly, but before one of the Pathfinders is injected with translator microbes, none of them understand "the differing voices.")
    • In season 4, Aeryn actually tries to learn English in case they ever get back to Earth and makes some progress. There are also a couple instances where the others try to speak in human phrases, though it understandably proves difficult. When the crew actually do make it to Earth in "Terra Firma", some humans - including Crichton's family - understand them, suggesting or showing that they have gotten translator microbes to better talk to them.
    • It becomes a problem in "Constellation of Doubt", though, when the whole crew is shown to be speaking English in the TV documentary. The premise assumes that the entire viewing audience would have received translator microbes; otherwise the documentary should have been subtitled.
    • In "I, E.T.", the crew crashes on a planet that has never had interplanetary contact. Crichton is able to understand them (which works), but the inhabitants understand him (which shouldn't and isn't really explained).
    • Recurring character Sikozu, however, actually does speak English (or whichever language is necessary at the time). According to her, her species can't tolerate translator microbes, but can learn other languages if spoken to after sufficient time. In reality is because she's an android and the Microbes would not work in her.
  • The various screen adaptations of Flash Gordon all feature the Mongonians speaking flawless English, with no explanation as to why. The 2007 series lampshades it, but still doesn't explain. The novelization of the 1980s film explains that Ming, not wanting to waste countless hours teaching his prisoners the language, had the knowledge beamed into their brains while they were transported to Mongo.
  • In Galactica 1980, the crew of the Galactica discusses a difference in languages, but Galactica 1980 and its predecessor Battlestar Galactica had characters speaking English with a few words and terms thrown in for flavor. However, the actors on the show did seem to have a problem with the word "starboard", putting the emphasis on "board".
  • Parodied in Hyperdrive: "Now, according to the file, their language is amazingly similar to English, which is jolly helpful..."
  • In Lexx, no one ever had a problem understanding one another, even when they were from two different universes. This comes into question when the Lexx reaches Earth and Kai, the undead assassin wants to read a newspaper, so he asks a boy to start reading some of it for him. The boy says, "fifty cents," and Kai informs the boy that Kai can now read the rest without help.
  • Lois & Clark: The survivors of New Krypton. Yet one of Kal-El's crimes is not having learned Kryptonian sufficiently to have understood all the arcane instructions on his ship...?
  • Lost in Space: In "The Keeper", The Keeper speaks English, and explains that he has monitored their radio transmissions and has a limited form of telepathy to help him understand the language. It is odd that he would go out of the way to explain this, as the Robinsons didn't ask him how he could speak, probably because it wasn't the first time they encountered an English speaking alien without explanation.
  • Mock the Week, Scenes We'd Like To See, Lines You Wouldn't Hear in A Sci-Fi Film:
    Hugh Dennis: Yes, we aliens learned English by listening to your radio broadcasts!
  • Every Orkan alien from Mork & Mindy seems to speak English.
  • The Orville: All of the aliens speak English. This is justified somewhat when it's those in Union service. Even those on their own planet do as well though.
  • As noted in David J. Schow's book on The Outer Limits (1963), there's only one episode of the original series ("The Zanti Misfits") in which the aliens don't speak English, although various episodes justified this with different handwaves.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Trial By Fire", alien ships are approaching Earth, only to send a video transmission with garbled language. Tension grows and at the climax, the U.S. President decides to launch nuclear weapons at the aliens, to no effect. The aliens launch extremely directed weapons to kill just the U.S. and Russian leaders, just as translators reveal the transmission was in English, but underwater (since 70% of the Earth is water). The message was the President's very campaign promise "Let us be your friends." The President says "At least the nation will survive," as the weapons hit.
  • In Space: 1999 almost everybody in the universe speaks perfect English with no explanation provided.
    • The trope is played straight in the second-season episode "The Rules of Luton": the Judges of Luton (sentient plants) address Koenig and Maya in perfect English when sentencing them for the crime of killing plants and eating them.
    • In the same episode, the trope is then subverted when Koenig tries to negotiate with the three aliens (also off-world criminals) whom the Judges have sentenced him and Maya to fight to the death. They don't seem to understand him, and are shown communicating between themselves using what sounds like grunts and growls.
    • Again in "The Rules of Luton" the trope is justified in the final confrontation with the last surviving alien, when he suddenly replies in English when Koenig address him. The alien explains that the Judges see it as fit that they should be able to communicate before killing each other.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • There are aliens, diaspora humans, and beings from other galaxies speaking English. The issue of learning the local language served as something of padding in the movie on which the series is based, so this might actually be a case of Translation Convention, since the team members can be reasonably expected to be familiar with the common galactic languages (especially as most of them are dialects of Coptic or Latin). It was lampshaded in the novelization of the pilot episode "Children of the Gods", but that was more of One-Shot Revisionism.
    • Openly lampshaded in the "Wormhole X-Treme!" episode. Two of the crew get into an argument over whether they should have the off-world food be alien in appearance. When one demands whether the viewers will willingly suspend their disbelief in seeing a normal apple on an alien world, the other retorts it's not half-as-bad as all of the aliens speaking English.
    • According to leading linguistic experts, a population isolated from any other human group will eventually develop a language similar to English and speak it with a Canadian accent.
    • Worse yet, the Tau'ri (as the humans of Earth are called) are practically the only humans in the universe exhibiting multiple languages - it's harder to understand the Russians than the humans from another galaxy who didn't even have ancestors on Earth!
    • Lampshaded in the season 10 episode "The Pegasus Project". SG1, and Daniel, finally make it to Atlantis in part of their search for a way to stop the Ori in the Milky Way. They've previously gotten a clue in 2 planet names but have no gate addresses, so Daniel is using a holographic interface to Atlantis' database to try and find them. He's using a long roundabout search because the names are in Medieval English, a language spoken thousands of years after the Ancients abandoned Atlantis. When Vala becomes tired of the long search and tells him "just ask her (the hologram)" and it instantly returns an answer it's a clue that something more is going on.note 
      Daniel: [sarcastically pandering] Hello, we're looking for the names of two planets known on Earth in ancient times in the dialect of Old English as Castiana and Sahal.
      Hologram: Taoth Vaclarush and Valos Cor.
      Vala: She told us the name of the planets. There were right up there glowing in the ceiling. She even gave us the addresses, which means we could be out there somewhere overlooking Atlantis, toasting with exotic beverages!
      Daniel: It shouldn't have worked. [...] Explain this to me: how can this database translate in real time a language spoken eight thousand years after the Ancients abandoned Atlantis?
      Vala: That's a tough one.
  • Becomes particularly egregious in Stargate Atlantis, when they go on their very first off-world mission without a linguist, and suddenly everyone in the Pegasus Galaxy turns out to speak English there too. And most that includes the holograms and flashbacks of the Ancients - yes, the very same Ancients whose specific not-even-remotely-English language has been heard and seen written down all across the span of the previous series. Especially noticeable with the characters of Teyla and Ronon Dex, as while both are "human", they both come from other planets in other galaxies and yet apparently can speak and understand English without any problem.
  • Mostly averted thus far in Stargate Universe. The entire ship, control panels and all, is nothing but Ancient writing, and the one alien species they've come across thus far is apparently incapable of speaking English. They can still write English, but that's justified since they Mind Probed Rush beforehand and probably got the basics.
  • Although the later incarnations of Star Trek make occasional mention of "Universal Translators" being built into the uniform commbadges, the Original Series simply ignored the question of language except in a few rare instances. The handwave doesn't explain the times where communication does become a problem, or where certain words get left in the original.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Darmok" is a brilliant subversion of this and Translator Microbes. The aliens' words are translated to English, but their language is metaphorical rather than indicative, full of seemingly unrelated references to historical events and battles, and is impossible to understand without the proper cultural background. It has been joked that they are a planet of tropers.
    • "Loud as a Whisper" features Riva, an alien, deaf interplanetary conflict mediator/peacemaker who reads lips but has a chorus of interpreters who speak for him. When without his chorus, he uses what is clearly American Sign Language (justified out-of-universe by the fact that Riva's actor is actually deaf and as such ASL is his actual native language), though it is stated to be another form of sign language that he learned. Fridge Logic comes in when you realize that whatever universal translators they use wouldn't change the shape people's mouths are making, so how is he reading lips in languages he has never learned? Since he's a telepath, however, that may be the solution, but then why does he need to read lips? Likewise, there would be no reason for the universal translator to translate one form of sign language into another sign language that no one in the room would understand.
  • The issue of different words/inflections/etc. came up in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When analyzing a conversation between Weyoun and Sisko about a peace treaty, a group of guest characters (who are genetically-enhanced geniuses and thus capable of feats like almost instantaneously picking up the intricacies of an alien language) remove the automatic translation to discover a key point in his delivery that the English translation glosses over.
    • In an earlier DS9 episode, the universal translator was temporarily unable to translate the language of a group of aliens newly arrived from the Gamma Quadrant, because it was so different from anything the computer had parameters for. It does eventually manage to make sense of it.
  • Averted in Star Trek: Enterprise: Universal translator technology was in its early stages and often had trouble with newly discovered species, but Hoshi was there to serve as a translator. The times she wasn't essential were usually when they met advanced species that likely had their own version of a universal translator.
  • Star Trek: Discovery has scenes with the Klingons speaking in the Klingon language and subtitled at the bottom, though they do speak English when talking to humans. One even mentions that she's descended from spies who make it their business to learn other languages.
  • Most Tokusatsu has this trope all over the place, including the Ultra Series, Power Rangers, Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
    • Averted in Kamen Rider Kuuga, where the Grongi, a human offshoot, speak their own incomprehensible language.note 
    • Kamen Rider Gaim had this happen with the Over Lord Inves as well. They speak their own unique language, which was eventually subtitled into Japanese.note  At one point, one finds a Japanese dictionary left behind by a human research team and he has some difficulty in speaking Japanese to the human characters, but later they all seem to become fluent.
    • Kamen Rider Build justifies this with the Martian queen Vernage who says that she has listened to and learned Japanese from Misora's bracelet for seven years before talking with the heroes. How Evolt (in Soichi's body) learned Japanese and started talking earlier is less explained.
    • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger (and naturally its English counterpart Power Rangers S.P.D. as well) averts this for once by having one Alienizer who couldn't speak the local language without a translator device. The Alienizer was also a body switcher, switched bodies with the Blue Ranger and destroyed the translator device. So the Blue Ranger, in the body of a wanted criminal, had to prove to his friends that his own body was used by the criminal, while not being able to communicate normally. The majority of the other aliens speak perfect Japanese/English.
    • Actually not the first case of Alien speaking gibberish in Power Rangers. Remember Lunatick (from the Power Rangers in Space episode where Zhane woke up.) He spoke an unknown alien language. Then there was Bookala (from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2), who learned English by repeating the words.
    • Almost lampshaded in Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: The Parasaurolopus Bakuryuu, having travelled from its native Dino-Earth to our Earth, ends up in South America and must swim to Japan where the others are. When he arrives he speaks perfect Japanese, but with the occasional "amigo" and the like thrown in for gags.
    • Justified in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and the like since they are Human Aliens.
    • The Ultra Series plays with this unclearly. While the audience hears the Ultras speaking Japanese and their host can understand them, they rarely ever speak while transformed (except their characteristic shouts) and even when they do talk, it's normally to each other and on occasion humans watching simply won't hear what they're saying.
      • In Ultraman Max, the rest of DASH asks Kaito if he "understands their language" after he explains what Max and his superior Xenon were talking about, implying humans didn't understand the conversation. But in Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends, Ultraman Belial speaks to Rei, who is a human, and Rei himself clearly understands him. Apparently, the Ultras communicate telepathically.
      • On the other hand, all the non-Ultra aliens encountered by the heroes are capable of speaking fluent Japanese. There have been a few exceptions though, notably the Gigi from Ultraman Cosmos, who had to wear Translator Collars to speak Japanese and otherwise spoke in Pokémon Speak.
      • Even then, there's some confusion. In the original Ultraman, the Baltans had to take over the bodies of humans to speak Japanese in their first appearance, but in their second appearance and all later ones, this is never a problem. On the other hand, the Mijirs from Ultraman Dyna were able to speak Japanese when in their human disguises, but could only make gibbering noises in their true forms (perhaps their vocal cords change upon disguising?).
      • Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga straight-up averts this trope. The Ultras seen in the series speak in their own ancient language and only through special deciphering machines can they be understood, however one of the antagonists, Hudram can speak English but since he's been awake for 100 years before the series started he's had time to learn the languages all on his own, justifying it.
  • The 456 in Torchwood: Children of Earth speak actual English through all of Earth's children, even in places like Taiwan. The characters make note of it and it has a certain significance. Along with the hour at which they choose to speak, it indicates that the 456 are addressing Great Britain, with which they've already had secret dealings.
  • In the miniseries (and series) V, this is justified in that, since the aliens are trying to indoctrinate themselves into human culture, they must speak the local language at all times. Including poor Willie, who was meant to go to the Middle East and thus had learned Arabic, but ended up in the U.S. due to a bureaucratic bungle and was forced to stumble through English on short notice. The 2009 reboot solves this problem in two ways. First it shows the Visitors using some sort of universal translator, as in their introduction when their leader Anna's address is seen being broadcast across the entire planet and can be audibly heard in the local language of wherever its being seen. Also, Visitor sleeper agents have been living on Earth for decades prior to the arrival of Anna's fleet in order to gather intelligence on humanity and learn Earth's languages in preparation for the arrival.
  • When the Vikings encounter new cultures, often there will be a language barrier. This is lampshaded by having the characters actually speak Old Norse (Vikings), Old English (in England), and Frankish (in France). Eventually a translator will turn up who speaks both languages, and then one or both parties will begin speaking modern English for the benefit of the viewer.
  • The aliens who came to steal Jerry's milkshake machine in the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Wizard for a Day" seem to have an excellent command of American English, lampshaded by the fact that they have no use for Justin and Zeke's "alien language".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena travels to Rome, Brittania, Africa, India, China, and Japan, yet never runs into language barriers. In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules travels to places like Sumer and Ireland without any language problems. Unlike Xena, though, Herc is a demigod.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Possibly justified in 4E Dungeons & Dragons, by the shardminds. The reason they can speak any language is most likely that they access the creatures memories, copy the language, and speak with it. Frankly, it makes sense.
  • A major part of d20 Modern Urban Arcana: shadowkinds (the new arrivals from D&D land) forget Common and remember the local language instead. Not English, the local language. One wonders what happens when Shadowkinds drop in a Terra Nullius like the North Pole, or in a country with several official languages (such as Switzerland)...
  • In Rifts, most alien races on Earth were transported there by accident generations ago, and speak English note  as their first language, making this a Justified Trope. Played wholly straight in the Three Galaxies setting, where the language Trade Four is so close to English that a Native English speaker can also speak Trade Four at about 50% proficiency. This is used as a hint that the Humans of the Three Galaxies come from some version of Earth.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Usually played straight. While the various Xenos races have their own languages, many often have little trouble talking to humans in their own tongue (called “Low Gothic”, which is merely written as English due to Translation Convention. “High” Gothic, conversely, is Canis Latinicus).
    • Justified in the cases of the Aeldari and Necrons, since their advanced technology and high intelligence allow them to easily grasp Gothic. The Aeldari often use their own, flowery and poetical language, but many have mastered Gothic to the point of fluency; not that they often respect humans, but being able to speak the language makes them easier manipulate and occasionally work with. Necrons, since they're mind-uploaded robots, can easily download the Gothic language from storage and call it a day.
    • Also justified by the Tau. They have their own language, but the Fire Caste (soldiers) have chips in their brains that let them understand the basics of several other languages, Low Gothic included. The Water Caste (politicians) are also genetically engineered and specially trained to speak other languages flawlessly, right down to the body language.
    • Played with by the Orks. Depending on the Writer, orks will be speaking Gothic (albeit with an overwrought Cockney accent) if it makes more sense for that particular work. In most of the recent instances, they will be using their own language, which is frequently given the tongue-in-cheek description of equal parts yelling and physical violence. Many words in the Ork language are loan words from Imperial Gothic; for example, "shoota" is an Ork word for any kind of gun, and "choppa" is the word for any kind of edged weapon, and "Nobz," underbosses who command their own mob of orks, comes from "noble". The Ork language is written in the form of ideogramic characters, however. A handful of particularly intelligent Orks are perfectly capable of learning to speak Gothic, and even High Gothic.

    Theme Parks 


    Video Games 
  • Either this or some form of Translator Microbe is in effect in Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator. When you can draw the aggro of an enemy ship by saying that, and I quote, their "Maternal leader wears combat boots," some form of translation is likely in effect.
  • The alien language in the original Chibi-Robo! is just English, but spoken very, very quietly. Once Chibi-Robo gets an upgrade called the "Alien Ear Piece," he can understand them just fine.
  • In The Conduit, there are three alien characters can speak perfect English.
  • Subverted during the AWE expansion of Control, where you encounter an alien named Fra — a shapeshifter from the moon that hitched a ride to Earth as NASA returned from the Apollo 14 mission— who technically speaks English and has a very passable human-like voice, but his syntax is all over the place. Sometimes, you can vaguely infer his meaning through context and vocal inflection, but other times, it's incomprehensible word salad.
    Interrogator: Why are you here? What the hell do you want? Why'd you stow away on that ship!?
    Fra: School bearing, boy boy. I's many cauterizing loops through and about. Wind and windy, Mitchell!
    Interrogator: Did he just say "Mitchell"? Was there a Mitchell at NASA?
    Fra: Tubes.
  • Every alien race in Darkstar One speaks English. Word of God states that the reason behind this is because English was established as the standard spoken language in the galaxy.
  • All of the alien races in the Dawn of War games speak English (technically Low Gothic, if you want to get pedantic). Normally, one would be able to pass this off as Translation Convention, except when humans and aliens (especially Orks, who probably wouldn't bother to learn any other race's language) talk to each other.
  • Destroy All Humans!: Furons speak fluent English, though they do apparently have their own language given the various symbols aboard the mothership. Crypto also uses his native tongue in some missions during the second game.
  • This is first averted in The Dig: A group of astronauts are stranded on a deserted alien planet, when the protagonist first encounters an alien he doesn't understand a thing the alien speaks, until he brings a companion (who has been studying the alien's language in a "library") and she is able to successfully communicate with him (the dialog is heard in English via Translation Convention), later this is completely played straight when the protagonist ascends to the dimension in which the rest of the aliens are trapped, the alien leader tells him that in that plane of existence all minds communicate perfectly, then the aliens return to the real world and their leader speaks and thanks him in perfect English implying he learned the language by that "perfect communication".
  • EXTRAPOWER: No alien seems to have difficulty speaking with anyone from Earth.
  • In most of the Halo games, the Covenant's Grunts, Brutes, Elites, and Prophets all speak English. In some games, like Halo 2, they even speak it when there are no humans around, which is obviously a case of Translation Convention. In Halo: First Strike, this is explained as due to standardized UNSC translation technology. Halo Wars also states in the Timeline that large numbers of Covenant soldiers are taught to understand human languages. It's noted in the Expanded Universe that Grunts are especially adept at learning new languages, despite being otherwise not all that intelligent, which sort of justifies them speaking English (in the first game, they were in fact the only Covenant race that spoke English).
    • Also referenced in Halo: Glasslands, which notes that the Elites, despite having four mandibles instead of a lower jaw, can approximate some human languages by moving their lower mandibles together like a jaw. Humans have a similarly tough time pronouncing Sangheili languages properly, though at least one human is shown as somewhat capable in the language. Neither are without faults, however: Elites cannot (or at least have extreme difficulty) pronouncing anything involving their non-existent lips, and one fluent human is described as speaking like an "idiot child".
    • Averted by Halo: Reach. Every Covenant race only speaks their native language. This is lampshaded and parodied by a sleeping Grunt on "Nightfall" who says "It's funny, but I dream in English".
    • This aversion continues in Halo 4; Mission Control will only translate for the player whenever they feel they need to, and Covenant dialogue is subtitled during cutscenes. There's even a scene in Spartan Ops where Jul 'Mdama has to actively switch to heavily-accented English in order for his human captive to understand his questions. It should be noted than when speaking Sangheili, 'Mdama is pretty eloquent, given the subtitles, but in English he doesn't even speak complete sentences.
    • Halo 5: Guardians, however, not only has the Elites and Grunts return to speaking English, but adds Jackals to the list as well, despite them having only spoken their own language in all the previous games.
    • The Forerunners and their AIs can also speak English, though this is explained as them having much more advanced translation capabilities than both humanity and the Covenant.
    • This is lampshaded in Halo: Broken Circle, although the language in question wasn't English, but Sangheili; apparently, the San'Shyuum overcame the language barrier between their species by building translators... that were made after by torturing and interrogating captured Sangheili during the war. The protagonist Prophet Mken notes it might not have been the best way to learn a new language.
  • Done rather oddly in the video game, Heart of Darkness. The cheerful Amigos can speak English, but it appears their primary language is actually Spanish.
  • Inazuma Eleven 2 has plenty of aliens who all speak perfect Japanese. This later turns out to be because they're actually native Japanese humans under the influence of the Aliea meteorite's power.
  • Killzone's' Helghast speak English with a British accent while the Humans from the ISA speak it with an American one. Probably justified in that the Helghast are an offshoot species of humanity created when humans (likely from an Anglophone company or region) adapted to the planet. Lampshaded by the Big Bad's attempts at "language reform," which succeeds in changing the alphabet but eventually falls short of changing the spoken language due to "logistical difficulties."
  • Inconsistent in the Metroid series, or at least the games where Samus interacts with anyone. On the one hand, Space Pirates and Luminoth speak in unintelligible growls and so forth, and Chozo runes need to be translated. On the other, the three non-human Hunters in Metroid Prime 3 all have English voice-acting, and the Pirates are veritable chatterboxes in the manga. Prime 2 implies it's due to Samus carrying a universal translator.
  • Zigzagged in Moshi Monsters: There's an alien species called Zoshlings and, while the gibberish they speak is different from the gibberish other monsters speak, they can understand each other perfectly.
  • Mother:
    • This applies at the end of EarthBound Beginnings, when the Big Bad Giygas offers the hero Ninten a place on his mothership. Justified in that he was raised by humans who were originally from a small town in rural America.
    • It also goes for the fangame Mother: Cognitive Dissonance when the alien party you play as visits Earth, having to talk to civilians, store clerks and the Pigmask members and they understand you.
    • EarthBound (1994) gets in on this too, with Buzz Buzz, various Starmen and a Department Store Mook talking to Ness.
  • In Outcast, the hero finds himself thrust into an alien world on a Bronze Age — level. He has no trouble communicating with the natives, who also have their own language used when not communicating directly with the hero, and never stops to wonder at this, being more bothered re: aliens, the existence of, local evil empire, the overthrowing of. The player is encouraged to accept this as a necessary break from reality, until it turns out that there are no Translator Microbes — the aliens have all been speaking proper English. The hero meets a scientist from the same world-thrusting expedition, who lampshades the matter only to be told that the empire instituted the use of the shadowy Big Bad's language. Dun dun DUNNN!
  • In Perfect Dark, the player character Joanna Dark is accompanied several times by an alien. Called Elvis. Who wears a vest with the stars and stripes on it. On Elvis' first (conscious) appearance, Joanna exclaims "You... You speak our language!"
    • Elvis, as you can probably guess from the name, a big fan of Earth culture and he's also a soldier who was sent to Earth to aid the Carrington Institute so he'd need to know the language of its founder.
  • StarCraft:
    • The Protoss are telepaths; presumably the (Terran) listener hears in whatever language they know. Note, however, that they do have a language of sorts, that can be both written and telepathically "vocalized". Their standard greeting, “en taro Adun” (“in honor of Adun”), goes consistently untranslated whether they’re talking to Terrans or to each other, and their unit dialogue alternates between regular English and more untranslated Protoss.
    • The Zerg, being a telepathic hive-mind, has no need for language, although their overall Overmind and its subordinate Cerebrates are pretty chatty with each other regardless. Only the rare sentient Infested Terrans have been known to occasionally communicate with other species.
  • Averted in Stardew Valley. The Dwarves, which are also very atypical Dwarves, are revealed to be a race of aliens, and they do not speak English. There is a considerable language barrier between the player character and the Dwarf you meet in-game. In order to understand them, you have to get all four Dwarf Scrolls and donate them to the museum for a Dwarvish Translation Guide.
  • Averted Trope in Stellaris. Even the UNE and the Commonwealth of Man need a Special Project to understand each other, thus averting Eternal English. And then the Fallen Empires don't need a special project to communicate with you. Because they've been watching your species develop, making it a Justified Trope.
  • Either this trope, Eternal Japanese, or some magical version of Translator Microbes is why the Moon-dwelling Ambiguously Human Lunarians of Touhou Project are able to converse with the heroines.
    • Though in fairness, the only Lunarians we see conversing with the heroines are the reigning princesses, their generals tasked with invading Gensokyo, or exiles residing in Gensokyo.
    • Gensokyo, Makai, and the various connected afterlives where the games take place all appear to speak Japanese. They're implied in Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom to all be a part of a set of extra-/pocket-dimensional "Otherworlds" when the heroines fight Hecatia Lapiszuili, the Greek Goddess in charge of all 3 Hells (namely those of Earth, the Moon, and Otherworlds).
  • In Voyage Inspired By Jules Verne, the Selenites are fully capable of speaking English. However they prefer to use their own language.
  • In Weird and Unfortunate Things Are Happening, the extra-dimensional inhabitants of the Expanse, ranging from lowly monsters to the full-blown eldritch gods called Evocations, are fully capable of communicating with the humans of Daybreak. They have their own language as well, but it's a Cipher Language with a direct translation to English letters, plus a handful of cyphers that correspond to certain words.
  • Parodied in The Wonderful 101. Delivering a challenge to you, the alien Prince Vorkken carves the words "I WAIT ON TOP, FROM PRINCE VORKKEN" in plain English onto a cliff face. Your ally of the same species, Immorta, "translates" the writing as "I wait at the summit. Signed, Prince Vorkken," and comments that it's written in Rhulloian.
  • World of Warcraft has a few particularly blatant examples.
    • Draenei who had recently crashed on Azeroth and never encountered any of the local races still understand Common enough to communicate with humans, night elves, and dwarves before even leaving their starting zone.
    • Pandaren from the Wandering Isle seem to have no problems speaking both Common and Orcish when encountering the Alliance and Horde for the first time.
    • Every race from Pandaria apparently speaks fluent Common/Orcish (except Hozen) despite the continent having been closed off from the rest of Azeroth for 10,000 years, presumably longer than those languages have existed.
  • In XCOM 2 all ADVENT enemies are speaking their own language, even more, in random conversation Lily Shen mentions seeing some old documents written in English and how she's unable to read them, meaning that all people born after the invasion are taught alien language. Also, in the final mission, Commander's avatar talks like ADVENT.
  • The 4 main alien races in the X-Universe all speak Japanese, which was chosen as the trade language for the Commonwealth of Worlds. Translation Convention makes them all speak English or whatever language the user set the game to use.

    Web Animation 
  • Lobo (Webseries): All of the aliens except the MBA and Mudboy speak perfect English.

  • In The Accidental Space Spy, when the human character asks "How come all aliens are speaking English?", they explain that the someone hid mind control devices on a lot of planets, which gradually turn one of the planet's languages into Vricaltian. The culprit? The Vricaltian Tourist Agency. To make it easier for tourists.
  • In Alien Dice English is actually a dialect of Galactic Standard introduced by a bunch of Rishan (genetically engineered human slaves) who looked fairly baseline and were dumped on Earth after their species was freed.
  • Lampshaded in an Awkward Zombie strip about Mass Effect. All of the advanced technology and mental powers in the setting are made possible by mass effect technology. How does everyone speak English? A wizard did it.
  • Played straight in Captain Ufo. Only one race so far was shown to use a different language, all the others speak English (without any reference to universal translators to boot).
  • Depends on the situation in The Cyantian Chronicles by the same author as Alien Dice. On their homeworld most Cyantians speak their native languages but at the Mars Academy everyone is required to speak English. There are also a couple Cyantians who were raised on earth and speak English as a first language, most notably Darrik who has a slight Cajun accent.
    • In another comic by the same author, two characters from the main series, Chatin and Cilke, are trapped on Earth and discovered by a linguist major, who discovers that they're speaking modified latin. It's revealed that all the anthropomorphic animals are genetically engineered from human slaves by ancient aliens some two thousand years prior. All Cyantian languages are descended from Latin.
  • Justified in El Goonish Shive, Uryuoms have the ability to learn (or teach) any language by rubbing their antennae on a person's forehead (or presumably anywhere close to their brain) for about three seconds. They can only do this kind of thing with languages though.
  • In Freefall, Sam Starfall speaks English just fine, possibly learning it from the human scientists that discovered he had stowed away on their ship. (After all, he can't con somebody unless he can speak their language!)
  • The trolls from Homestuck — who aren't just from another planet but a different universe entirely — have no problem speaking to the human protagonists. Handwaved in canon, though, since they were responsible for the creation of our universe and their influence can be seen in this and many other circumstantial similarities (for example, the troll players' names and sigils became our classical zodiac). It's not really a matter of "Trolls speaking English" so much as "Humans speaking Alternian".
  • Parodied in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! by Officer Zodboink, who speaks multiple Earth languages but can't keep them straight, e.g. "Hasta la wiedersehen!" To his credit, he's the only alien we've met who has even tried to learn our languages; everybody else uses Translator Microbes.
  • Explained in Jix that the Ambis (the alien of the strip) has a device that can download languages into the user's mind. Their androids, on the other hand, can learn a language if they hear enough of it.
  • Last Res0rt wholeheartedly admits they speak English; specifically, they speak GET (Galactic English Terth), which is about as different from Modern English the same way there's a distinct difference between Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew. However, in the same breath they admit GET is mostly a business/high-class language; part of the reason the show only does an hour a week of live broadcast is because translating and reformatting the program for so many different planets takes up so many resources that they can't afford to do them on the fly all the time. (The 'between shows' broadcasts are translated / parsed at relative leisure.)
    • All of the criminals featured so far can also speak GET, so it can't be too uncommon... then again, anyone who couldn't get past the interview process for being unable to speak the same language as everyone else wouldn't be on the show, anyway.
  • Most of the aliens in Luminary Children are able to speak English without problems.
  • In Reversed Star, various alien species are shown to have their own languages, but most speak English for the sake of the plot.
  • There are multiple galactic languages in Schlock Mercenary, but English still makes the short list. At one point mid battle a gatekeeper stops to correct a mercenary's English, and complains if humans are going to force this godawful trade language on other races they should at least be good at it. He gets Killed Mid-Sentence. It's not technically English—it's Galstandard West, which is the common galactic language corrupted by English. However, most English puns conveniently work in Galstandard West as well. This is shamelessly lampshaded both by the narrator and the author in his occasional rants.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, some aliens (like the ones who invade the North Pole) have their own language (represented in the strip by truly bizarre symbols in their speech balloons). However, the series also features Aylee, who was speaking English mere hours after first bursting out of someone's chest. Perhaps because she came from a dimension explicitly based on Sci Fi stereotypes, which this trope certainly qualifies as.
  • Tripp is able to understand the Amazons because of a translator device put in his ear.
  • Averted in Unity — not only do most of the characters not understand English (aside from the rare Oracle), but within the ship there are several different languages, represented by different colors for POV characters which can understand them and garbled fonts for those who cannot. All writing is conveyed in its actual script, as well. The "fact" the comic is being "translated" into English is lampshaded in several strips' popup text, as well.
  • On the planet in Verlore Geleentheid Afrikaans is evidently the dominant language (some English is spoken too). But considering it's somehow identical to South Africa in every way save for some of the technology and the fact that the inhabitants aren't human that is to be expected.
  • In Winters In Lavelle, all of the humans in Lavelle (so far) speak English. However, it's averted with the Gard, a species of (rather violent, it seems) half-deer men. They all speak Gardish, and the only one shown to be able to speak English so far is Xan- though his grasp on it is rather tenuous.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed on Cracked, which calls this The 2nd Stupidest Way Movies Deal with Foreign Languages.
  • Junction Point:
    • Rudak chooses to learn Mandarin (as humans can't make certain vocalizations in his tongue).
    • Diplomat can speak all human languages. Or, at least, the ones he managed to pick up via radio eavesdropping.
  • Orion's Arm: Averted and played straight in various cases. While the majority of intelligent aliens can communicate with Terragens through various translation methods, only a few biological species even have the anatomical equipment necessary for human-style vocalization. Of those, one species, the To'ul'hs, are known to have members that can speak Arabic; however, even they require some technological assistance to adequately replicate the sounds of the language. Instead, there's an interesting variation on this trope: Most terragen species speak languages descended from English, such as the trader language of Douh. These are collectively called Anglic languages, though ten thousand years is a long time for a language to develop. Anglic languages are more diverse than current earth languages. Other modern languages such as Mandarin have their own families of descended languages as well, Anglic are just the most common.
  • Starsnatcher: Subverted by the Seizers who are incapable of vocalization and instead communicate by touch. Hence, the only Translator Microbes that work between them and humans involves Electronic Telepathy and beaming thoughts into each other's head, meaning all the English dialogue is just following the Translation Convention.

    Web Videos 
  • In Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Nail and Dende converse in Namekian (represented by Klingon) until Nail realizes that Dende brought Krillin with him.
    Nail: [in Namekian] It seems then that we must speak in the Universal language. [in English] English.

    Western Animation 
  • 3-2-1 Penguins! plays this straight most of the aliens, but averts this with the light-bulb aliens in "Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt" who speak in R2-D2-ish gibberish and the ear-like lobes in Compassion Crashin who communicate with "Budda, budda, budda."
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius flaunts this trope magnificently. There is even the "Galactic Cable Network" pay-TV service, complete with over 9 billion television channels...all in English. Bizarrely, before they encounter the aliens associated with the network, Jimmy reads a tablet sent from space and makes a throwaway comment about translating from Aramaic.
  • The Movie Within A Show Brain Eaters From Outer Space in the Animaniacs episode "Potty Emergency" has an alien named Gagnort who speaks English.
  • All the various cultures in Avatar: The Last Airbender, from pole to pole and around the world, share the same language, spoken as English but written as Chinese. This implies that they may actually speak Chinese, it just sounds like whatever the audience expects to hear.
  • Played mostly straight in Ben 10. Notable exceptions are The Unintelligible alien Six-Six, the entire beast-like Vulpimancer species (who are supposedly sapient)note  and Galapagus, who required a universal translator to communicate with (though his friends could speak English just fine).
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers features two alien races, the Fleeblebroxians ("Dale Beside Himself") and space-traveling, high-tech-equipped dinosaur escapees from ancient Earth represented by Steggy ("Prehysterical Pet"). They all speak English. In fact, the only "aliens" that don't speak English are the giant pillbugs from "Fake Me to Your Leader".
  • The characters on Creative Galaxy all speak English, but occasionally splice in an unspecified alien language, i.e. "bleepity-bee, come fly with me!"
  • The Danger Mouse story arc "Close Encounters Of The Absurd Kind" has DM and Penfold abducted by a UFO for physical assessment. The head alien, Dr. Zok, speaks a garbled alien language which after activating his translator speaks our "rather primitive mode of speech."
    D.M.: Primitive?! Look, when I get loose from here, you won't need a machine to translate things for you. A thump 'round the ear means the same in any language!
  • Dinosaucers: The denizens of Reptilon speak perfect English off the bat.
  • All the aliens that appear in DuckTales are fluent in English. Of note is that the aliens appearing in "Superdoo!" do not interact with any Earthlings, so it's possible that they were speaking in their native tongue, only to be translated for the viewer's benefit. The Moonlanders in the 2017 reboot also speak perfect English.
  • There have been three alien races on The Fairly OddParents!: the Yugopotamians, the Boudacians, and the Gigglepies. All three speak perfect English. In fact, Mark talks with Earth Surfer Dude slang, and the Gigglepies are a Rhymes on a Dime race.
  • Lampshaded on Fantastic Four: The Animated Series. The aliens spoke in their native tongue for awhile, then freeze framed as an animated Stan Lee came out and said "Since some viewers might not speak fluent Skrull, we'll use our mighty Marvel language converter."
  • Example from The Fruitties: The dickpea alien from "The Dickpea from Outer Space" can speak English with no problems whatsoever.
  • Virtually everyone can understand each other in Futurama. Native Martians speak English, Omicronians speak English, Neutrals speak English, it goes on. Perhaps more impressively, although English changed a lot in the last 1000 years, it proceeds to stay the same for the next 1000. This is lampshaded in the sixth season episode, "Mobius Dick", when the Planet Express crew travels to a foreign planet to pick up a statue, written in English.
    Leela: "Its" shouldn't have an apostrophe. This means "and it is crew". What the hell's wrong with you?
    Alien: It's a minor error, lady. I mean, we're space aliens. It's a miracle we can even speak English.
    Leela: The miracle is that I'm not kicking your ass! I insist you recarve the entire statue correctly.
  • Any alien on Garfield and Friends.
  • The titular characters in Gargoyles woke up from being sealed in stone for a millennium and were immediately able to converse with humans in modern English save for needing to catch up on the occasional slang term. Word of God admits that he's always been fully aware that people in 10th Century Scotland didn't speak any form of English whatsoever (let alone the modern variant), but since Scotland natively speaks English nowadays, he basically felt it was close enough to get away with it.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power: Pretty much all of the countless species and races on Eternia speak or at least understand English. Furthermore the same applies to Etheria, Trolla, Primus ... pretty much any planet or dimension the characters encounter, including Earth, making this also a case of Aliens Speaking English.
    • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): The trope isn't thought about much as Queen Marlena is the only Earthling living in Eternia and one could assume Translation Convention was in play and Marlena simply learned "Eternian" but the few stories showing Eternians interacting with other Earthlings show they actually speak English.
    • Continues into the latter's reboot series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Mara died a thousand years ago, but in her appearances in flashbacks or holograms she recorded while alive speak the same language as Adora and Glimmer. And Horde Prime can communicate fine with Glimmer and Catra even though Etheria has spent a thousand years in a different dimension to the one Horde Prime came from. The First Ones had a different written language, admittedly, but the spoken language seems to be the same.
  • Invader Zim:
    • Almost all alien species speak English. Not only does Zim speak perfect English to humans (granted, with his own weird twists) but already before Zim arrives on earth Dib overhears the Great Assigning of the Irken invaders and seems to have understood everything.
    • Irkens do have their own written alphabet, though it's just a cipher of English. The comic continuation even seems to ignore that.
    • Although in the episode "Mysterious Mysteries", Dib records Zim yelling at GIR in a language that's clearly meant to be an alien one.
    • A small aversion in the movie, where the alien guards at the space prison Moo-Ping 10 can briefly be heard speaking in a language that definitely isn't English.
  • In Johnny Test, this is lampshaded when they meet a race of Vegan aliens and Johnny states that it's good that they speak English.
  • Justice League:
    • Hawkgirl and the Thanagarians all speak English by default. Even to each other. Translator Microbes might cover that one, and it's not impossible that Hawkgirl may have taught some of the Leaguers a bit of Thanagarian. Especially Batman.
    • In the episode "War World", there are a million types of aliens, all speaking English with no difficulty understanding anyone else. Given the spacefaring cultures in the DCU are heavily influenced by races like the Guardians—who probably think Clarke's Third Law is redundant—it's entirely possible that translator technology is common among species that have any interstellar dealings at all.
  • In Kid Cosmic, Stuck Chuck speaks English with the help of a translator. Amusingly, he has to cycle between a few languages before Kid and Jo can understand what he's saying. Played straight after Chuck makes a Heel–Face Turn. After giving his translator to Tuna Sandwich the cat, Chuck reveals that while he can speak English on his own, it's hard on his throat, causing it to come out broken and strained.
  • Kim Possible has two aliens of the same race that can speak perfect English from the get-go. Not only that, they even speak English between each other, when there's no others around...
  • In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Frenchfry, Jumba's 62nd experiment, speaks fluent French despite Jumba having never been to Earth until after Stitch was created. Likewise, the entire Lilo & Stitch franchise has their aliens speaking English fluently without any acknowledgment from the human characters, save for two brief moments in the original film that both involve Stitch (who, ironically, has the most broken English among the alien characters who debuted in the first film).
  • Most aliens in Megas XLR speak English. No reason is ever given. The only ones that might have a good reason to are the Glorft, who have been at war with humanity for decades at the start of the show. They were also accidentally created by Coop, according to notes from the unproduced third season.
  • Played straight for the most part in Men in Black: The Series. It's partially justified as most of the aliens are secretly living among humans on Earth, however this trope usually still applies to aliens even when they're talking to another one of their own species or live on another planet. Extraterrestrial languages are only rarely heard being spoken. Though this does get humorously subverted with the Worm Emperor, whose ability to speak English is terrible.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope on Milo Murphy's Law: the "good" aliens have their own language and are subtitled (though they have no trouble understanding the English-speaking Zack and Milo), while the "bad" aliens speak perfect English. The former group has only spoken one line in a Cutaway Gag. No human characters are in earshot, so it's likely Translation Convention is in effect.
  • The titular character of Muzzy in Gondoland is an alien speaking English in a cartoon that teaches English, or whichever language that particular version is teaching.
  • The denizens of the Boiling Isles in The Owl House all speak American English and have been doing so since at least the 1600s. The weird part is that this isn't just some case of there being a universal language, since Luz is specifically shown to be bilingual and a later episode acknowledges Spanish as being a human language.
  • Varies on Phineas and Ferb. Aliens have their own language, speak English, or both largely depending on plot necessity or Rule of Funny. The customers at the Shooting Star Milkshake Bar and Morg and his criminal gang are English speakers, while the Martians have their own language (which Ferb understands), and Mitch and Meap have their own language but can communicate with the human cast through their Universal Translators. Others, like the whalemingos or the fifth-dimension baby, are completely nonverbal.
  • Planet 51: Lampshaded when Chuck is surprised that the people of the planet speak English.
  • In Ready Jet Go!, the Bortronians can speak English fairly well, although they do slip into their native tongue from time to time.
  • Practically all the aliens encountered in Rick and Morty speak perfect English. The one exception was an alien who was incapable of human speech but quickly solved this problem by grabbing a nearby translation device. Another major exception are the Garblovians, a race whose members speak in nothing but nonsensical, garbling gibberish which they somehow expect other species to understand.
  • Rolling with the Ronks!: Flash and his rival Rob are both aliens who already know and speak English.
  • Parodied in an animated segment of Saturday Night Live. African humans encounter aliens, who must consult an English-Swahili dictionary to translate.
  • As a rule, the aliens in The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show speak like this.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in the first ''Treehouse of Horror." The family expresses surprise at the Rigellians apparently speaking English, but Kang explains that he's actually speaking Rigellian, which just happens to be identical to English.
    • In "The Man Who Came to be Dinner", Homer says "Wow! This place is completely Alien, but everything's in English! Just like Canada!"
    • In "The Genesis Tub" from "Treehouse of Horror VII", the residents of Lisa's microcosm universe speak English, they claim, because they've learned to imitoot her exarctly.
  • The Crystal Gems in Steven Universe have been living relatively close to humans for thousands of years, so they have reason to speak Earth languages (English in particular because their base is on the Northeastern Seaboard). But the Homeworld Gems have been separated from Earth for almost 6000 years and somehow also speak English, which had not been invented until under 2000 years ago. The Gems do have their own written language shown mostly in backgrounds, which is eventually referred to as "Gem glyph".
  • 1973-74 Super Friends episodes "The Power Pirate", "Too Hot To Handle", "The Balloon People" and "The Watermen". The aliens in all of these episodes spoke perfect English with no explanation.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan, being inspired by 70's super robot cartoons, doesn't even try to justify the alien main characters speaking English, or even bring it up.
  • In Team Galaxy the aliens that Josh, Brett, and Yoko encounter on their space marshal duties all readily speak English, with the only exception being the Plant Aliens from "Emperor Brett."
  • Teen Titans ALMOST avoids this one. In one episode, Starfire's ability to speak English is justified by the fact that her kind can instantly learn any language through "lip contact" with someone who speaks that language. But unfortunately, by that logic, all of her other people, who appear in a previous episode, must have snogged English-speaking humans as well. (Alternatively, as Starfire's sister Blackfire had already taken over the planet by the time the Titans got there in the aforementioned episode, the Tamaraneans could have absorbed the language from her.) In the original New Teen Titans comics in the 80s, Tamaraneans can learn languages through any kind of touch; Starfire just smooched Robin because she felt like it. However, this doesn't seem to be the case in the animated series continuity, as Starfire explains to Robin in the movie that on Tamaran, lip contact does indeed signify merely a transfer of knowledge as opposed to meaning "more" on Earth.
  • In one episode of Teen Titans Go! Starfire already spoke English when Robin met her, unlike the Magic Kiss mentioned above. However, the Season 5 episode "The Real Orangins" has the usual Magic Kiss meeting between the two, since the show doesn't really have a continuity to speak of.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • In the eighties cartoon, upon meeting Miyamoto Usagi for the first time (brought over through a dimensional portal) Raphael points out, "He's not only from an alternate dimension, but also ancient Japan. So naturally, he speaks English."
    • In the 2003 series an alien arrives and while at first speaks a foreign language, the collar she wears is activated to translate it into English.
    • In the 2012 series, the Kraang need their robotic suits to speak English, and even then they can't speak it very well. The sole exception is Kraang Sub-Prime, who speaks English fluently even without a suit, and is seen complaining that after thousands of years on Earth, he is the only Kraang who actually bothered to learn it.
  • An episode of The Tick had a very bizarre take on this: two alien races, each with a language consisting of one word: the Heys and the Whats. The Heys, incidentally, all looked exactly like Arthur, which led to him being captured and interrogated by a What who had learned to speak Hey:
    "Hey!" "What?" "Hey!" "What?" "Hey!!" "What?!"
Additionally, the Mr. Exposition for that episode was a What who had learned to speak every language on Earth..."except Esperanto, you can tell that was going nowhere fast."
  • In the aptly titled episode "Aliens" of Totally Spies!, the spy girls get to meet their alien counterparts who speak various human languages, but who are best at English and French, the languages of France and Canada where the show was produced.
  • The Transformers:
    • Transformers always speak English, even the ones who aren't from Cybertron. There's no real reason why, nor is it ever commented on. There's no reason given why exceptions like Transformers without humanoid robots don't, either.
    • Weirdly, this was commented on in the comics: one story in the 80's had some Decepticon pranksters leaving nasty graffiti on a number of Earth landmarks and monuments...but because said graffiti was written in cybertronian, it just looked like someone had sprayed a bunch of squiggly lines on Lady Liberty.
    • Subverted by the Junkions, who speak English, but do it in a way that makes little sense... They "Talk TV". meaning, in a nutshell, their dialogue is pieced together from fragments of various Earth broadcasts, resulting in lingual mash-ups such as "Don't look behind door number two, Monty! It's time to play "End of the Line," my valentine! Ge-ronny-doo-ron-ron-ronny-moooo!"
  • Parodied in VeggieTales.
    Khalil: "The people there spoke a different language, but we'll just pretend they spoke English. Just like Star Trek."
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: All of the alien races in the show speak English and no explanation for it is ever attempted. Although there are some differences in terminology and pattern, such as Alteans keeping time via "ticks" and the Balmerans speaking with a very distinct speech pattern. Written language, however, is completely different from written English, which causes a few problems. Given how commonly different species are shown interacting, most likely it's because Translator Microbes are just really common (which would be in keeping with the technology displayed by the Altaians and Galra).
  • The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: The third video "Visitors from Outer Space" features a family of aliens who are able to speak English in spite of apparently never being on Earth before.
  • WordGirl: Not only can the titular character speak English, but she can speak it better than you. (Though she was Raised by Humans, so...)

    Real Life 
  • What’s likely one of the nearest examples of this happened in 1621, when an Abenaki man named Samoset walked into the newly-founded Plymouth Colony and greeted the settlers in English, which was startling to the Pilgrims since they hadn’t made contact with an Amerindian before. As it turns out, he had begun to learn the language from fishermen who had been to the area.
  • A man named Ray Brown, exploring the "Bimini Road" in 1970 reported finding an underwater "Atlantean" pyramid in which he swam in. Finding a room with a crystal held by two stone hands, he took the crystal. He reported, as he swam out, that a voice told him "You have got what you came for. Now leave and don't come back!" Allowing that Atlantis is true and this event actually happened, why is a 12,000-15,000 year old Atlantean security system speaking perfectly modern English?!?
  • Formula One automobile racing involves participants from many nations who speak many languages, and is broadcast to many countries in their native tongues. However English is the de facto language of the sport, and during races all communications are in English, likely to prevent teams from requiring a gaggle of translators to listen to their opponents messages (the communications are not private). So you'll often hear, for example, an Italian engineer speaking to a German driver in English, which is regularly added to the TV broadcasts.
    • Ditto with the World Rally Championship, which sees people from Europe and elsewhere participating in the sport. This calls for mastering at least some command of English, like for example Takamoto Katsuta who first started off in rallying barely speaking a word of English, and when Ott Tänak began his world championship career, having to learn through the language especially when he signed up for UK-based Ford M-Sport.


Video Example(s):


Octopoid Alien Martin

Martin wakes up as a green-skinned alien with tentacles for legs.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OctopoidAliens

Media sources: