Let’s start with French. Our hero is “Le Docteur” and he travels in “Le Tardis”. What about the episode title “Le Jour Du Docteur”? Still with me? Let’s raise the bar. He is a “Seigneur du Temps”. The story arc of Series One was “Le Grand Méchant Loup”. In the same series a certain episode was called “L’Explosion de Cardiff”. And who can forget the Tenth’s “Allons-y!”? Très facile, n’est-ce pas?
What about German? Unlike French, the gender of our hero’s police box is feminine – “Die Tardis”. You could even define it a “Zeit-Raum-Maschine”. The Second Doctor played a “Blockflöte” and the Fourth wore a “Schlapphut” and a very “langen Schal”.
Heading southwards to Spain, we encounter the “papel psiquico” which the Doctor often uses to get out of a fix. He carries a “destornillador sónico” and the Tardis has “dimensiones trascendentales”. Captain Jack became “El rostro de Boe” and the Autons are controlled by the “Conciencia Nestene”.
In Italy, the Twelfth Doctor’s first story will air as “Un respiro profondo”. “Boomtown” is called “Città esplosiva” in Italian. As for famous foes, Skaldak is a “guerriero del ghiaccio”. In Tom Baker’s day, the Doctor’s metallic enemies from Mondas were known as “Ciberniani”, as in Season 12’s “La Vendetta dei Ciberniani”, but the more recent tale by Neil Gaiman was translated as “Incubo Cyberman”.
And if you head for Brazil or Portugal, don’t blink, as we have the beautifully sounding “Anjos Lamentadores”. In Portuguese our hero is known as “O Doutor” and his Time Lord rival “O Mestre”. The Tardis looks like a police box because of a “mau funcionamento” of its “circuito camaleão”.
Learning a language is an extremely challenging and time consuming process, though it is arguably easier for Whovians. We have the advantage of knowing the words, phrases and terminology from the series which, as we have seen, are often similar across languages.
We are completely “au fait” with plotlines, which make the idea of watching Doctor Who in a different language, aided with subtitles, a far less daunting proposition.
Many Doctor Who books and novels have now been translated. The Internet provides us with plenty of practice material. We have country-specific fan sites and Facebook groups. It is surprising how much we can actually comprehend.
And we shouldn’t be discouraged, if at first we don’t understand everything. Armed with just a basic school or holiday knowledge of a language, perseverance and passion will see us through. If, via the Internet, we make friends with fellow Whovians worldwide, they will accompany us on our journey. Why not organise a Whovian language exchange?
After all, there is quite a long wait for new Who. We certainly have the time to learn or, at least, brush up a second language. And then when Series 9 finally arrives, we will have our reward – twice the number of episodes to watch! Molto bene!