Simply put, this is a variety of translation device that can turn any ordinary animal into a Talking Animal. Of course, such a device would require that the animal in question already had human-level intelligence and only lacked the ability to speak, but this is seldom an issue in fiction.
Comes in three types:
- Completely external: A suit or device is in close proximity to the subject.
- Completely internal: A device is implanted or permanently attached to the subject.
- Mixed: The phlebotinum that interprets the subject is separated in some way from the phlebotinum that talks for the subject and thus can be external and/or internal.
- Old Spice's "Mr. Wolfdog" campaign features a wolf with a translator collar as their new director of marketing.
- The Powered Armor used by Poipoider and other porpoises in Mars Daybreak translate their language as well as letting them walk on land.
- Sakamoto's Handkerchief / Bandana / Collar in Nichijou.
- Verg the Shark Man from Blue Submarine No. 6 wears one. He destroys it in the last episode, realizing he doesn't want to talk to humans anymore.
- Inspector Gadget 2, the sequel to the live-action Inspector Gadget movie, featured a collar that translates dog language to English, which they put on Brain.
- In the movie adaption of Congo as in the book, Amy the gorilla had been taught sign-language. Unlike the book however, the movie gave her a robotic glove that would translate her signing into audible speech to make things easier on the audience.
- In the Disney live-action movie The Cat from Outer Space, the title character had a collar that could read his brainwaves and translate his thoughts into human speech (among many other remarkable capabilities).
- In the Australian film Paws a computer literate dog creates a computer program to translate his words to English. His human owner makes a portable version which the dog wears as a bow tie, also modifying the program to make him sound like Billy Connolly.
- Some short story concerned an ape who was implanted with a device that sent out radio waves. As I recall, some measure of relief came from having the speaker set up with an off switch, probably playing off Koko the Gorilla.
- Rats, Bats and Vats by Eric Flint and Dave Freer played with this trope. The anthropomorphic rats were genetically engineered to be bipedal. However, their minds were uplifted with alien microchip technology and they needed an implant to speak to humans.
- In the 1981 book Megalodon by Robin Brown, the protagonist scientist has developed the Janus device, a computer/vocoder/translator which enables him to teach two dolphins (nicknamed Doris and Macho) and a killer whale (Morgan) a rudimentary language (their own language is sophisticated enough to communicate three-dimensional sonar images — it's converting that into language simple enough to be translated that's the problem).
- An object similar to this is featured in R.L. Stein's Goosebumps book "Brain Juice".
- In seaQuest DSV, Darwin the dolphin is able to communicate with his human crewmates using a device that Lucas built. However, due to the abstract nature of a dolphin's thought processes, his communications aren't always clear.
- In one episode, a rogue overhears Darwin "talk" and assumes the dolphin really can communicate in English. He captures Darwin when he goes out for a swim and tries to persuade him to reveal where the center of the universe is. When he is later allowed to talk to Darwin using the device, the dolphin tells him that the center of the universe is "inside [him]".
- In Power Rangers S.P.D., a Monster of the Week who uses one of these switches bodies with Sky, and breaks it so Sky can't tell anyone. This... really shouldn't work, as Sky still knows English and the bad guy wouldn't, but maybe it's really a case of the alien's vocal cords not being able to make the right sounds.
- Parodied in a panel of The Far Side involving an inventor who created a device for translating dogs' barking, which he carried around with him. As he walked down the street, all he heard was "HEY!" "HEY!" "HEY!" "HEY!" "HEY!" "HEY!" "HEY!"
- The otherworlders of Miamaska are an example of #3, explained briefly here.
- Dan from Breakpoint City is a type 1 example of this. Dan's collar was made by his kid genius owner Ben, but has since been obsoleted in distant-future Ohio, where voice implant surgery is commonplace in pets. Cool technology is unfortunately not as cool when you live in the future.
- A flashback arc of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja shows Judy using a pair of gloves inspired by the Congo film, unfortunately they're about as unreliable as Google Translate and Siri combined.
- In Professor Amazing and the Incredible Golden Fox Parker invented a mind-reading device shaped like a domino mask so that Isla Grace could communicate in her full-fox form. The pickup's a little sensitive though.
- Jimmy Neutron has a device that lets him talk to fish.
- A scientist on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (episode "Scooby's Night with a Frozen Fright") also had a device that let him talk to fish. The fish looked at Scooby and said, "Scooby Doo! Scooby Doo!" He actually developed it to work on dolphins, since dolphins actually possess a language. It just also worked on fish, probably because of Rule of Funny.
- Parodied on The Wild Thornberrys. A bratty kid shows Eliza (who can actually talk to animals) a device which can attract animals and demonstrates it on Darwin. After he leaves, Darwin asks Eliza what the device was and why it was talking about chicken soup.
- Related: In an episode of The Simpsons, Unkie Herb invented a Baby Translator, which transformed Maggie's "goo-goo-gaa-gaa" into phrases that the parents could understand like "Burp me," "Oh, dear, I seem to have soiled myself," etc.
- Danny Phantom has one where Jack tries to build a ghost-to-human translator. However, as the ghosts in the series can speak English (or other human languages) anyway, all it accomplishes is giving Jack yet another hint that his son is part-ghost, which of course he completely ignores.
I am a ghost. Fear me.
- In Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter once invented a pill that allowed a dog to talk, only to find that it didn't make much more sense in English; a double subversion because when the dog's owner comes to pick him up, his human English sounds like the dog's translated dog-language.
- Futurama had an episode where Professor Farnsworth's latest project involved a hat that would give monkeys human intellect and the ability to speak. Played for Laughs, of course.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Interview With a Platypus", the brothers think that Perry's chattering must be a form of Animal Talk, and get to work on a Perry Translator. The translator turns out to work on all animals, which the brothers then use to tell pet owners what their pets want. At the end, they finally learn that Perry's chattering doesn't actually mean anything.
- In an episode of My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Rabbit invents a device to translate what Buster's saying, which doesn't work. (Yes, Rabbit's a talking rabbit. Yes, he says dogs can't really talk. Just go with it.)
- Brain also gets a translating collar when he makes a return appearance in Gadget and the Gadgetinis; in the earlier series he could only bark and mime.
- In one episode of Adventure Time, Lady Rainicorn gets one, but it causes her to talk like an old man. It's a variant in that Lady Rainicorn already speaks a human language, specifically Korean.
- In Dogstar episode "Pedigree", Lincoln Clark creates a 'voice-box' for dog-scent sniffer-cat Boombah. They quickly discover that Boombah has nothing interesting to say, and that Simone has been lying about being able to talk to the cat.
- A variant of sorts happens in DuckTales (2017) in which Gyro uses a voice modulator to make the normally unintelligible Donald Duck sound normal (specifically, like Don Cheadle).
Donald: Rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers! Ha ha, wow! I've never been able to say that before!
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Chimps Ahoy", one of Sandy's failed inventions is a helmet that lets you talk to nuts. SpongeBob tests it on a peanut, who says "It's dark in here." Sandy then uses the nut to demonstrate her coffee grinder, which causes it to scream in agony.
- "Chatterbox Gary" has SpongeBob buy a collar that translates Gary's meows and speak in the voice of Keith David.
- One episode of Geronimo Stilton "If I Could Talk To The Animals" has this trope.
- A good example in Krypto the Superdog, where Kevin is the only one who can use a translating communicator that enables him to talk to animals, including Krypto. All animals can talk to each other but humans can't understand them without a intergalactic communicator.
- The Ben 10: Alien Force "Be-Knighted" has Ben noticing that the supposedly-feral Dragon is wearing an odd piece of damaged equipment on its throat and it makes several vocalizations that sound less like threatening roars and more like attempted speech. When the Dragon escapes, Ben talks to Kevin and finds out that the busted device was in fact one of these, finding an identical one in Kevin's stash (apparently, it's a pretty standard piece of alien tech to facilitate communication). Ben manages to swap out the Dragon's damaged one for the new one during their next fight, upon which Team Ben learns from the surprisingly eloquent Dragon that he is in fact a sapient alien that came to Earth as a mapmaker before being attacked and imprisoned by the Forever Knights for a thousand years like an animal as they tried to kill him. He's also understandably bitter about whole affair and being separated from his friends and family.
- The BowLingual, if it works.