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Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish

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Kronk: Squeaky uh... squeak squeaker... squeaken.
Bucky: *squirrel noises* note 
Kronk: Jaguars. No kidding. Brutal.

There are times when the heroes come across an alien or an animal whose help they need, but find themselves unable to communicate. Suddenly, The Ditz or the Cloudcuckoolander steps forward and starts talking with it and the other party responds. Somehow.

Suddenly Fluent In Gibberish refers to a character displaying the unexpected ability to communicate with somebody or something that should be impossible to speak to. The conversation is always done in gibberish, whether that includes beaver talk, Martian talk or anything similar. The skill comes without any prior Foreshadowing and is invariably Played for Laughs. When asked how they learned it, The Ditz will more often than not respond that they always knew that. The other characters will usually be left aghast and try not to think how it makes sense.

Sister Trope to Suddenly Bilingual, which involves sudden fluency in an actual language. When a character has speaking to animals as a Stock Superpower, that's Speaks Fluent Animal.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Strips 
  • Jump Start: A drunk patient is brought into the hospital, but is so incoherent, no one can understand him, no one except for Dr. Wicky, who communicates with him and promptly has him admitted. The doctor then explains that he partied a little too hard during his first year of med school, so now, he’s fluent in three languages: “Cantonese, English, and babbling drunken idiot.”

    Fan Works 
  • Rakshata Chawla in Code Prime is able to understand Bumblebee despite the fact that she doesn't have a translator. She explains that she interpreted his sounds as binary code in her head and went from there to understand what he was saying.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Kronk is versed in the languages of little woodland creatures, thanks to his Boy Scout Junior Chipmunk training.
  • Finding Nemo: Dory claims to speak whale language. Marlin is less than impressed, until it gets them to Sydney. Dory also knows how to read English and Spanish.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: Manny tries to get a group of hyraxes to help him steal Captain Gutt's ship to get to the continent, but can't get them to understand him. Sid steps in and converses with hyraxes via a stream of gibberish and wierd pantomime. To Manny and Diego's amazement, it works!
    Diego: That they got?
  • In Treasure Planet, Doppler speaks "Flatula" (read, fart noises). He uses it to get Jim out of trouble when Jim accidentally backs into a Flatulan crew member who tries to pick a fight.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix Jr., despite being an 8-bit character, can speak Q*Bertese. Don't ask.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Famously done in Airplane! where a passenger volunteers to translate for another passenger who only speaks "jive."
    • The jive passenger is black, as you'd expect. The translator? A white grandma, played by Barbara Billingsley, aka the mother on Leave It to Beaver.
    • Also in the sequel Airplane II: The Sequel during the court room scene.
      • Passenger: "Blood was on!" Court translator: "Mr. Striker performed admirably".
  • In Avengers: Infinity War Thor shows an unexpected ability to understand Groot's language claiming he was taught it at school as an elective.
  • The Meteor Man: Speaking with animals turns out to be one of the meteor's powers, learned when casually asking the dog what he wanted to eat.
  • In Tooth, at one point the main characters come across a mermaid and out of nowhere the sister is fluent in mermaid language, which consists entirely of glub sounds.

  • The Librarian from Discworld, who is an orangutan, only ever says "ook" and occasionally "eek". This should be incomprehensible, but some characters perfectly understand what he's saying. As time passes, more and more characters develop this comprehension, generally depending on how long they've known the Librarian.
    • Same with Death of rats, who only ever says SQUEAK (written like that, in all caps and without quotation marks), but despite that seems to be able to communicate with Death, Susan, and some others.

    Live Action TV 
  • Castle: Beckett understands "cry talk" (talking through Inelegant Blubbering) because all girls are used to comforting crying friends, apparently, and Alexis can understand her friend's drunken slurring without a problem, both of which confuse Castle.
  • Community: In the episode "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" (the role-playing game episode) Abed, as Dungeon Master, speaks in the voice of NPC Kyle the Gnome. He only speaks Gnome, and Britta discovers from her Character Sheet she's the only who can understand him, and must ask him the necessary question about acquiring a Pegasus — which she doesn't because she gets sidetracked by gnomish civil rights. Lampshaded and parodied when Abed as the Goblin recognizes the word "Pegasus" in the players' conversation — "A word I understand in all languages".
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor can speak baby... or at least enough to tell Craig that his son Alfie prefers the name Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All. The Doctor can also understand it when baby Melody Pond/River Song makes fun of his hair and bow tie. He also speaks Horse.
  • In Happy Days, Richie has an unexpectedly rough first day at work and he is so tired coming home that he can't speak coherently. Fortunately, Fonzie is fluent in Tired and provides translations.
  • In "Merry Christmas, Kenan," the Christmas Episode of Kenan & Kel, Kenan takes a temporary job as a Mall Santa. One of the children who comes to visit him is Keishka, a little girl from the fictional country of Fishlakia. Her mother fears that they won't understand each other, but Kenan suddenly starts speaking perfect Fishlakian (which sounds like a mashup of Swedish, German, and various other Eastern/Northern European languages), and the two have a bizarre-yet-heartwarming conversation, complete with a rendition of "Jingle Bells." It's a Shout-Out to similar scenes in Miracle on 34th Street, which featured Santa being suddenly fluent in Dutch (the original movie) and ASL (the 1994 remake).
  • When Jean Stapleton guest-starred on The Muppet Show, she revealed the Swedish Chef's shameful secret - that he doesn't really speak Swedish. Fortunately, Jean was fluent in Mock Swedish and was able to convince him to switch to his native language - Mock Japanese.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In "Fins, Femmes and Gems", Joxer thinks he is 'Atis, the Ape Man' and claims to be able to speak to animals. It is unclear if he actually can or if this is just part of his delusion.
  • In Zoey 101, Quinn, the Mad Scientist Cloudcuckoolander, is very concerned about her pet alpaca, Otis, whom she left back home. Zoey arranges for Otis to come to school. Quinn makes alpaca noises at Otis, and Otis makes the noises back. Nicole says, "Quinn speaks alpaca?" Zoey's response: "Are you surprised?" (We later see Quinn and the animal playing chess.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Masato Yoshino was inexplicable able to understand PSYCHO's gibberish when the latter came visiting Dragon Gate from Kaientai Dojo. He attributed it to having met PSYCHO many years before in Mexico.

    Video Games 
  • A variant occurred in Fallout 2: In the first town you reach after leaving home, you encounter a mentally stunted man who with great difficulty tells you to help safeguard some livestock. If your character has a very low intelligence score, you will be able to converse with him in very erudite grunting (the translation is given in parentheses), conveying fairly complex information.
  • Guy in Final Fantasy II (the real one, not the one that was actually Final Fantasy IV in Japan) can speak beaver language — even though, at least in Dawn of Souls, he has a little trouble with English. It's a little jarring.
    • An actual example in Final Fantasy IV (DS version) is in the Feymarch, where you meet Whyt and his family face-to-face for the first time. Rydia acts as their interpreter.
  • Subverted with Nemone in Granblue Fantasy. She regularly speaks to monsters just by going "rawr" a few times, but she can't understand them at all. It's just the sheer fearless friendliness she radiates that let her convey her feelings to them.
  • Subverted in Disgaea 3 when the not-quite-stable Princess Sapphire has a chat with the mentally regressed Mao:
    Mao: Ba, babuu
    Sapphire: Oh it's you, Sir Mao. What's wrong?
    Mao: Babloo
    Sapphire: Oh, is that so? We're allowed to kill these guys?
    Almaz: Princess, you can understand what Mao's saying?
    Sapphire: No, I just thought it'd be easier if that was the case.
  • In Persona 3:
    Junpei: Wait, does that mean... this dog's a Persona-user!?
    Aigis: He says, "This is a place of peace, so I protected it."
    Junpei: Uh, Aigis? Don't tell me you can translate dog language too...
    Aigis: Canines do not have their own language. However, speech is not the only means of communication.
  • Puyo Puyo: Subverted in two instances. Ringo tries to communicate with Carbuncle by saying variants of "guu" in Puyo Puyo 7 and 20th Anniversary, but still doesn't understand him. Then later Ringo tries to interpret Onion Pixie's onion speech, but her "translations" are nowhere near close to what Onion Pixie actually said.
  • In the Overlord DLC for Mass Effect 2, Cerberus attempted to use a man named David to try to control the Geth after it was discovered that he could communicate with them with binary code. When they hooked him up with a machine to try to send a signal to the Geth to take control of them, he went insane and seized control of the Geth Platforms and Security mechs in the facility, forcing Cerberus to contact Shepard to try to stop him.


    Web Original 
  • Subverted in the Among Us Logic episode Airship Arrival. Veteran appears to understand Poopyfarts (who only communicates with farting sounds), only to reveal that he doesn't actually understand him, and is only trying to make him feel included.
  • Naruto: The Abridged Series: Naruto's group come face to face with Zabuza... except they initially can't understand a word he says because of his face mask. Cue Kakashi revealing he can speak muffle.
  • From Not Always Right spinoff site Not Always Friendly, this girl is apparently suddenly fluent in Crazy Homeless People.
  • Golden Sun: The Abridged Series: When Isaac and his gang finally reach Kolima, Ivan demonstrates an ability to speak tree. Garet's understandably sceptical... until the tree actually answers him.
    Ivan: Knock knock knock knockety... knock.
    Garet: Ivan, a tree doesn't-
    Tree: (knocking sounds)

    Western Animation 
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, Bubbles has the ability to speak to squirrels, among other things, which comes in handy on occasion.
    • A throwaway joke in another episode mentions that she is also fluent in Spanish. Eventually it's revealed that she can speak everything.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, the kids are trying to save babies at a hospital. Numbuh Three, The Ditz, reveals that "I speak baby," and indeed she does.
  • The second season of Josie and the Pussycats has the team flying into outer space and encountering a dog-bird alien named Bleep, who communicates as follows: "Bleep bleep bleep." Melody, the Ditz, says, "Bleep bleep bleep, bleep bleep?" Bleep responds, "Bleep bleep bleep, bleep." Melody then gives an English translation.
  • In the episode of Tiny Toon Adventures where the main gang ends up in England, Babs reveals she's fluent in "royalese," which was necessary in order to talk to Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
  • In the "Underfist" special of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Irwin pleads with Hoss, Skarr, and Jeff that, among other things, Mindy was kidnapped by a marshmallow bunny. However, his hysterical Inelegant Blubbering couldn't be understood by anyone save Jeff, who speaks "crybaby."
  • Happens in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants: (as Patrick is whistling) "Patrick, I didn't know you spoke bird!" "No, that's Italian, Spongebob."
  • At one point in Phineas and Ferb, while Phineas and Ferb are helping Buford search for his lost goldfish, Phineas mentions that Ferb can communicate with dolphins. Another episode also reveals that Ferb can also speak Martian.
  • One episode of Total Drama World Tour has Izzy, the queen Cloudcuckoolander, is able to talk to a camel. It's even been confirmed that camel is her favorite foreign language.
    Izzy: *grunting sounds* I just introduced myself in camelese.
    • She then asks the camel where they can get some lemonade. It leads them to the finish line.
  • On the Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween Special, Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space, B.O.B. tries to reason with the evil pumpkins because, since he's part tomato, he's fluent in produce.
    Dr. Cockroach: Well, what did he say?
    B.O.B.: Horrible things! About my mother, in a salad bar.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Roachie", Ron befriends a giant cockroach and soon begins having full conversations with it, imitating its clicking-noise speech and understanding its replies.
    Kim: You're like the Roach Whisperer.
    Ron: Y'know, if you're trying to speak 'roach, you've got it all wrong, KP. You've gotta click with your mandible.
  • In one episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Pinkie Pie interprets a frog's ribbit for Twilight: "Nice catch."
    • G3's Pinkie Pie had the ability to communicate with any pink creature (although this was only shown when she talked to some pink fireflies in Twinkle Wish Adventure). Apparently Pink is a language in G3-land.
  • In The Simpsons, Homer's status as an Omniglot is clarified to include fluent comprehension of Penguin.
  • On South Park the boys take a spaceship to the planet Marklar, where everyone and everything is called Marklar. After a few minutes, Kyle manages to become fluent enough to convince the aliens to let African villagers stay on their planet, and kick the Christian missionaries out.
  • In the Strawberry Shortcake episode "The Legend of Sherry Bobbleberry", Sherry can speak to hummingbirds, something no fairy generally does.
  • On Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Zilly's sole redeeming talent is being able to translate the goobledygook of noises and sound effects coming out of Klunk.
  • One episode of I Am Weasel, titled "Fred, The Last Idiot", Weasel finds a specimen of feral humans thought extinct, named Fred. Unfortunately, Fred can only communicate in unintelligible gibberish, but Baboon reveals that he's fluent in it, and says Fred is speaking "Idiot".
  • In one episode of Stōked, Bummer is apparently able to comprehend seagulls.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • Jet is somehow able to communicate with the rovers Beep and Boop perfectly.
    • In "Freebird", Sunspot turns out to be an expert at communicating with the snow geese.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: It turns out the Dubstep Bees have an actual language that other characters can understand and learn to speak. The only non-bee characters who are confirmed to know it are Billions the Newton Wolf and Kipo's mother, Song.
  • On The Dick Tracy Show, Stooge Viller is able to understand the mumbling of his partner in crime Mumbles. Lampshaded in the episode "Court Jester" where the two criminals are on trial for forgery. Stooge has skipped court and without him to translate Mumbles, the case could be summarily dismissed.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Talks To Squirrels, Fluent In Gibberish


Dragon Charades Champion

Spike is able to figure out what the raccoons are trying to tell him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.47 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuddenlyFluentInGibberish

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