Stargate SG1: How does everyone speak English?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by ReadyAndWilling, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. ReadyAndWilling

    ReadyAndWilling Fleet Captain

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    Hey guys, this has been bothering me for a while. I've thought about this for a long time and I couldn't come up with an answer: How does everyone speak English?

    Is this ever explained? I've seen every episode of SG1 and I can't recall it.
     
  2. ainmneacha_Nollag

    ainmneacha_Nollag Living the Irish dream. Admiral

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    Because it's made for an English speaking audience and thus they all speak English.

    As for an in-universe answer, not sure if it ever gets answered, I'm sure in Atlantis and Universe there were a couple of alien species that don't speak the Queens English.
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    It's been a while but I think one of the novels said it was something to do with the stargate. But that's about the best answer you are going to get but as said above it's was made in an English speaking country.
     
  4. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    That was supposed to be the gist of it. You get different languages when people are separated or develop independently. These worlds were all seeded with slaves and whatnot, and had contact through the stargate. Common starting point plus contact, thus same language.

    Should be Egyptian, I suppose, but show would suck if we couldn't understand anything being said, 10 seasons of subtitles for everything wouldn't work... ;)
     
  5. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    The Abydos people didn't speak English in the theatrical movie, did they?
     
  6. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^Nope.

    oh, and "a wizard did it".
     
  7. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    You know it's a good question. Because in all of documented fictional works between TV, movies, books, all of that never ONCE has two people from different cultures ever been shown to speak the same language.

    I mean, it's just unheard of! It's not like there's a TV series out there where characters met a different alien race every week and somehow were able to communicate perfectly with only the thinnest and silliest of explanations.

    Stargate SG1 certainly dropped the ball here and in no way at all continued a trope that's literally been used for decades.
     
  8. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

    It is a common trope, but many shows do at least have a flimsy excuse to justify everyone speaking the same language. Star Trek has the universal translator and Doctor Who has the Tardis automatically translate for you.
     
  9. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't be surprised if they have a blink and you miss it mention of the Stargate working as a universal translator, as well (Goa'uld is to primitiv to be translated apparently), that icks in once you traveld a couple of times through the gate.
     
  10. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Better yet, since the SG-1 Stargate didn't have a DHD, we can guess that the first few trips through they hadn't figured out how to enable the translation function. QED.
     
  11. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We've seen that the various cultures in the SG universe have different *written* languages, so it stands to reason that their spoken languages are unique as well. There isn't any reference to a universal translator that's a separate device, so it's implied that the Gate itself performs that function.
     
  12. The Naughty List

    The Naughty List Working the Pole Moderator

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    Out-Universe Real Explanation:

    It's a show for a primarily English speaking audience, so it's just a conceit. Plus, having everyone speak a different ancient language in every episode would be impossible logistically.

    In-Universe Bullshit Explanation
    (I'm just making this up; it's not official in any way, though it might be similar to what MacLeod says is in one of the novels):

    The Ancients, using technology derived from telepathic devices like the Ark of Truth and the Long Range Communications Stones, incorporated the equivalent of a universal translator in every DHD in order to facilitate communication between the different cultures that they had spread among the stars. This tech was the basis for the ancient story of the Tower of Babel, and its disabling by Ra was the basis for the Genesis story about how God confounded the people's speech and spread them out across the Earth.

    Likewise, the translation matrix on Abydos was disabled when Ra took the DHD in order to prevent his slave population from getting assistance from other cultures in resisting him, so their people had to learn English from O'Neill's team the hard way until Ra was defeated and his ship was blown up. That's why they still spoke ancient Egyptian when Daniel Jackson first started talking to them.

    I'm sure there are inconsistencies with this throughout the show, but it should work as a general explanation if you absolutely need one. I don't recall if the Abydosians spoke English or not when they encountered them again in the SG-1 pilot and later episodes -- if not, just say that their translation matrix was never repaired after Ra was defeated.

    ETA: Whoops, I should read the later posts before responding.
     
  13. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Because watching a show where nobody speaks the same language all the time would be incredibly dull.
     
  14. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Magic dust.
     
  15. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Countless threads asking for shows similar to other shows.
     
  16. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    Babel Fish.









    :shifty:
     
  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    There's a nice moment in "Children of the Gods" where Jack asks Daniel to communicate with the natives, Daniel just says "hello" (or something like it), and then it turns out the natives speak English. And from that point on, just about everyone speaks English.

    I preferred the way the movie handled it, but I recognize that could get tedious after a while (and that the series was attempting to be a bit lighter fare).
     
  18. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They should just do the Doctor Who way and just say the start that it's the Stargate, but they didn't.

    It's because it was made in Canada.
     
  19. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Aw, let's give the guy a break this time. It's a legitimate question and this particular show chose to ignore it rather than handwave it.

    I always envisioned that originally, the language barrier was just like what we see in the movie. After the events of the movie, Daniel learned the Abydonian language, which is the same as that of the Goa'uld. He also taught some of the Abydonians English, which is why Skaara and the others can speak it when "Children of the Gods" rolls around.

    When the team SG-1 is first established, in most of the encounters where people appear to be speaking English, they are actually speaking either
    1) the Goa'uld tongue, a common trade language due to frequent contact with gate travelers
    Note that Jack has a start from his exposure to Abydos and Sam is an all-around genius, so they can pick it up pretty fast. Daniel and Teal'c are already fluent and can translate where needed.

    Would be used in the first few seasons in "COTG", "Bloodlines", "Cor-Ai", "There But for the Grace...", "Within the Serpent's Grasp", "The Serpent's Lair", "Need", "Family", "Secrets", "The Tok'ra", "Serpent's Song", "Holiday", "Out of Mind", "Into the Fire", "Point of View", "Rules of Engagement", "Forever in a Day", "Jolinar's Memories", and "The Devil You Know". Also possibly certain episodes like "Brief Candle", "Deadman Switch" and "Pretense", assuming they're not just speaking English in the latter two anyway.
    or they're speaking
    2) a native tongue, which is almost always derived from an Earth language.
    Note that Daniel is a genius with languages, can figure out any given tongue in a short time, and can translate for the others when needed.

    Would be used in the first few seasons in "Emancipation", "The Broca Divide", "The First Commandment", "Thor's Hammer", "Prisoners", "Thor's Chariot", "Past and Present", "A Hundred Days", and "New Ground". Possibly "Demons" too, although the natives could be speaking the Goa'uld tongue or even some archaic form of English. Anyway, this is really not a great number compared to the total number of episodes.
    In all other episodes, either
    1) the aliens have their own means to learn English or otherwise communicate,
    2) there was enough contact prior to the episode to establish a means of communication, or
    3) no alien speech is ever involved in the episode.

    This just about works for the first few seasons if you squint real hard and ignore things like the fact Daniel is not always on hand to translate for the others. Or the fact that the Abydonian language in the movie is nothing at all like the Goa'uld speech on the show.

    I've always assumed that this explanation breaks down after the first few seasons due to too many of the above discrepancies or at least an increasingly improbable number of languages for Daniel to translate to the rest of the team. But a quick look at seasons 4 and 5 show me only two of those, "Scorched Earth" and "Red Sky." Perhaps I should look at all 10 seasons from this perspective. (Obviously Jonas, Dr. Rothman, etc. are considered to substitute for Daniel at the appropriate times.)

    Is it possible that my handwaving can work (more or less) for the whole run of the show?
     
  20. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Not as easily as there being a Babel Fish function in the Stargates.