Doctor Wholittle – He talks to the dinosaurs

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In the 1976 story The Masque of Mandragora the Doctor finally reveals the secret of why he and his companions can always understand the local language wherever the TARDIS lands.

“It’s a Time Lord’s gift I allow you to share,” he breezily tells Sarah Jane Smith.

This is not elaborated on again in the television series until The End of the World (2005) when the Ninth Doctor informs Rose that it’s a “gift of the TARDIS, a telepathic field that gets inside your brain – translates.” In The Christmas Invasion we learn that the Doctor is a component without whom the field does not work.

This all worked well enough until 2011 when the Eleventh Doctor revealed that he could speak the language of babies, when those around him could not (A Good Man Goes to War and Closing Time). Furthermore he can communicate with horses in A Town Called Mercy and more recently in Deep Breath.

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Deep Breath goes further, when the freshly-regenerated Twelfth Doctor announces that he can speak Dinosaur. The interesting thing about this is that as recently as Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, he couldn’t speak a word of Dinosaur. The mystery of who built the ship and why, and the revelation that Solomon was aboard with his two hench-robots would have been delivered in the opening moments by the prehistoric creatures they meet shortly after landing.

So, it doesn’t seem to be part of the TARDIS translation circuit as it normally operates. But the Doctor replies to babies, horses and dinosaurs in English, and they (well at least the horses) seem to understand him. So it’s possible he’s updated the TARDIS system in the mean time, but only for his own use, or he’s taken the time to actually learn these languages.

But why would he bother to do this?

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At the end of Deep Breath our hero says, “I’m The Doctor. I’ve lived for over two thousand years and not all of them were good. I’ve made many mistakes and it’s about time I did something about that.”

Is he going to go back in time and apologise to the dinosaurs for Adric?

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