The TARDIS – Universal Translator Extraordinaire


The amazing thing about the TARDIS isn’t the fact that it can move between spaces, and times and space-time. No, it really isn’t, because things like that pop up in almost every classic sci-fi from the 60’s forward. It isn’t the fact that there’s bigger-on-the-inside technology. Pokémon fans can argue that they’ve been exposed to that concept for years. Well, the older, more physics inclined fans can anyway. Maybe.

Nope. What I find most amazing is that no matter what year or planet or country or region or family you’re from, the TARDIS has a built in neural transmitter that automatically gives you literal universal language interpretation and translation.

So, as a perpetual language student and the fact that linguistics seem to stick itself in in every facet of my life, I often wonder Does this universal translator work for Sign Languages?

Does the translator work on signed languages? Can it make unrelated sign languages mutually understandable even for a short period of time? Does it make older versions of a particular sign language understandable to newer versions of that language? Is it possible for a deaf person and a hearing person to communicate just by using their own native languages – can I as a speaker of Trinidad Standard English/Trinidad English Creole communicate with a non-verbal user of TTSL? And does it work with pidgins- signed or spoken? I imagine it works with different dialects as well, and I’ll need proof of that as well. Ooh so much to know, so many questions that spin off!

I think that’s what my first question will be – Does this universal translator work for Sign Languages? And I know when and where my first moment of awestruck wonder and excitement will hit – Managua, Nicaragua, at the exact moment when Idioma de Signos de Nicaragua  (ISN/NSL) was first developed. Of course after I get these questions answered, I’ll be wheedling the Doctor to take off the controls on the translator so I can see it in action too.

Another interesting question – the Doctor claims to be able to communicate in every language, everywhere, and everywhen. But does he sign, though? I mean, if he could speak Horse (blugghhhhhh) he surely could sign, right?

– K. ~




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