Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. There are over 6000 languages of Earth alone, with millions throughout the Marvel Universe.
Most Marvel Comics are written in variation of English known as "American English."
In most instances during which a character is speaking in another language and the reader is meant to know what they're saying, said character's dialogue in their speech bubble will be written in American English between angle brackets ("<" and ">"), which indicates that said character is talking in another language. The first use of angle brackets is usually accompanied by an asterisk and an editor note box stating what language it the dialogue being translated form.
In other occasions, speech bubbles with text in another language may feature narration boxes next to them, which translate said dialogue. In less common cases, dialogue spoken in languages may not be translated at all.
When foul language is censored, the word (or words) in question is usually replaced with a standard grawlix ("#$%&").
- Wolverine: Thanks to his long life and world travels; he is fluent in many languages including English, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Spanish; he has some knowledge of French, German, Thai, Vietnamese, Farsi, and Portuguese. Ogun taught him Japanese ideograms.
- Captain America: Thanks to his enhanced memory from the Super-Soldier Serum, he can speak English, German, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, French, and Italian. There might be even more that he is fluent in. He picked up most of the languages fighting in World War II.
- Iron Man: Apart from his native English, Tony can speak different languages, including Japanese, French, and Russian. He also appears to know Middle Eastern languages, though Urdu was never his strong suit. He is able to translate further using the Iron Man Armor's translation software.
- Nightcrawler: Gifted, as he spent his youth travelling around Europe as the star performer in a circus, and knowing the language of wherever they were that week was very handy. He was among the X-Men to whom Professor Xavier telepathically taught Russian and Japanese, and he also speaks German, English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
- Austin Cao: A client of Matt Murdock's. Austin worked in Language Services at Midas Investments; he speaks 17 languages fluently and another 10 passably.
- Kitty Pryde: Fluent in various languages such as royal and standard Shi'ar and Skrullos. She also has some moderate knowledge of Gaelic, Hebrew, and German. When Illyana Rasputina came to stay with the team, Xavier telepathically taught them all fluent Russian, and when the team went to Japan for Wolverine's wedding to Mariko Yashida, he likewise taught them Japanese.
- Sage: As a mutant with unlimited learning capability, she claims to speak "over 123[sic]" languages fluently. She is restricted in her knowledge only by a lack of comprehensive, digitally-available records.
- On Earth-1610; Namor became fluent in English by listening to the Fantastic Four speak to S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for roughly five minutes.
- Beast: Fluent in several languages including English, German, French, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, and Russian, as well as Latverian. The Black Swan had also taught him a few extinct languages.
- Magneto: His troubled life across Europe has given is fluency in various languages such as in English, French, Polish, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Ukrainian, Yiddish, in addition to his native German.
- T'Chaka: Proved to be able to speak English, French, German, and Latin after learning those languages from refugees from different countries arriving in Wakanda.
The innate ability to speak intuitively communicate in any language.
- Deities, such as the Asgardians, can speak every language thanks to the "Allspeak" or "All-Tongue", an inborn ability which allows all species to understand their speech in their own native language.
- Doug Ramsey has the mutant power to understand any language, even if it should have been completely incomprehensible to the human mind. This extended even to raw computer binaries, dead written languages for which no Rosetta stone exists.
- Lockheed can understand what one is saying regardless of language; he knows several human and alien languages and speaks English, but rarely does so.
Some individuals lack true omnilingualism, but are able to communicate with others, regardless of language barriers, via telepathy.
- Professor X, using his telepathy, can understand all languages, and can "download" the knowledge into his mind or to others. He often sends his X-Men on missions with short-duration language programming, mostly by reading the minds of people in the area they're visiting. Examples include:
- Teaching Frenzy several local African dialects.
- Programming the entire field team with local customs and languages when they visited a spaceship graveyard in Indonesia.
- Cyclops becoming fully fluent in Cantonese for a couple of weeks when the team undertook a mission in Hong Kong.
- Illyana Rasputin being taught fluent English over the course of a single night by programming it into her brain while she slept.
- When the team went to Japan for Wolverine's wedding to Mariko Yashida (Earth-616), he likewise taught them Japanese.
- Sleepwalker, learned to speak English because it was the language his human host spoke. If Sleepwalker had been trapped in the mind of someone who spoke another language, like French or German, he would have begun using that language when he first appeared in the human world.
A number of technological devices have been developed which bestow their uses omnilingualism.
- Due to frequent encounters with alien races, the Fantastic Four carry a universal translation device created by team leader Reed Richards.
- In the galactic communities such as the Kree Empire; translator implants are commonly used. Star-Lord has one attached to his neck.
- The Nova Corps use specially designed Nova Helmet's that can translate languages from different species.
- The Power Pack has universal translators built into their uniforms.
- On the planet Sakaar, the slaves were attached with a Obedience Disk which keeps them in check and contains tiny robots called "Talkbots" which facilitate the instantaneous translation of any language.
Many alien species have visited earth and have been able to use signals from various forms of entertainment and communication to learn the native language:
- Shatterstar possesses enhanced learning capabilities and mastered Spanish by watching television.
- The Spineless Ones, the residents of the Mojoverse, have had their dreams bombarded with TV transmissions from Earth-616 for thousands of their years (as time works differently in their dimension). They understand Earth languages and have replicated Earth TV culture.
When displayed on-panel, several of the fictional languages of the Marvel Universe are presented as substitution ciphers of English text with an invented set of glyphs. Examples include:
- Doopspeak: The language used by Doop.
- Builder Machine Code: Used by the Builders race and its creations.
- Demonic Script: Used by the Demons of Limbo.
- Krakoan: Invented by Cypher for use by mutants of Krakoa.
(See Also: Linguistics at Wikipedia.org)
- Wolverine: Origins #32
- Amazing X-Men Vol 2 #11
- New Avengers #12
- Avengers: Millennium Infinite Comic #2
- Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 #13
- Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 #14
- Iron Man/Thor #1
- Invincible Iron Man Vol 2 #18
- Uncanny X-Men #153
- Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #1
- Daredevil Vol 3 #4
- Uncanny X-Men #155
- X-Men Vol 2 #95
- X-Men: True Friends #1
- New Excalibur #14
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #24
- Avengers #209
- Avengers #206
- Avengers #207
- X-Factor Annual #1
- New Avengers Vol 3 #7
- Magneto #0
- Uncanny X-Men #522
- X-Men: Magneto Testament #1
- Black Panther Vol 3 #30
- Thor #617
- New Mutants #13
- S.W.O.R.D. #3
- X-Men: Legacy #268
- Wolverine and the X-Men #12
- New X-Men Annual #2001
- Sleepwalker #1
- Fantastic Four #237
- Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord #1
- Nova Vol 5 #1
- Incredible Hulk Vol 2 #93
- X-Force #34
- Longshot #3
- X-Force #116
- Avengers Vol 5 #6
- New Mutants Vol 3 #17
- House of X #3
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