Given the existence of things like Occlumency, it seems that one wizard being able to read another's mind is not unknown. So some kind of magical Universal Translator shouldn't be a problem. So why, in Goblet of Fire, do the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students have such difficulty communicating in English, and the Hogwarts students appear unable to understand any language other than English at all? (I think it's a given that there are no foreign language classes at Hogwarts; we certainly never hear of any.)

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    Why would Occlumency relate to spoken language?
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 13:01
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    Even if reading brainwaves is possible and telephaty is a thing in HPU, it might not help you communicating with a person who speaks a diff language. And if it's transmitting images, not words then the associations may be different. Thats also the reason there is a diff sign language for each country. The sign 'eat' looks different in Chinese than in Bulgarian. But i agree wizards are a slow bunch. They could just plant memories of boring historical lessons and languages and use the free time to practice shapeshifting or telephaty or any other cool stuff.
    – user68762
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 13:31
  • "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain" - I think a magical translator would come under that category. Also, I would imagine that reading people's minds (even if you do it via a device rather than personally) is considered somewhat anti-social, since it would be a severe invasion of their privacy. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 21:11
  • I wasn't thinking so much of understanding someone by a magical form of telepathy; I was thinking, "Why isn't there a spell a wizard or witch could say, which would act as a kind of Babel Fish?"
    – Wallnut
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 8:27
  • Probably because the in-universe situation is similar to the out-of-universe situation. That is, it seems that not nearly as many British people speak other languages as non-British Europeans manage to speak some English. Some continentals speak very good English, for others it barely passable. The books reflect real life in this situation. Said as an American, where the vast majority of us speak only English, and some (natively-born) speak barely passable English.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 18:01

1 Answer 1


A skilled Legilimens may be able to understand somebody's intentions through Legilimency, but remember that this is an extremely advanced branch of magic. While Occlumency (that is, preventing your thoughts from being exposed) is easier and was practiced by both Harry and Draco at different points in the series, the act of extracting those thoughts was only possible by a select few very skilled wizards - Dumbledore, Voldemort and Snape primarily.

On top of this, we know from Hermione's analysis of some of the items for sale at Fred and George's joke shop that charming objects with special properties is also not easy to do. The implication is that the more difficult and powerful the spell, the harder it is to do. That would make an object that can perform Legilimency extremely expensive and rare, if it were even possible. And the fact that Dumbledore and Barty Crouch were known for being multilingual implies that this is not the case, or there would be no reason for them to learn a variety of languages in the first place.

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    Maybe there was a connection between D learning mermish and being a skilled legilimens tho. If the merepeople didn't block him like Slughorn did he may have gained info straight from their brains instead of bothering with textbooks.we know D has no problem to look for info in other heads.
    – user68762
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:29
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    @Neeshka That may be true, but we know enough from Harry's experiences with Legilimency that it doesn't simply transfer information from one mind to the other; it conveys a series of memories or thoughts as images, in much the same way as a Pensieve does. There isn't any evidence that one can learn a language this way any more easily than they could form just listening to someone using it in real life.
    – Cooper
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:32
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    Sure, its not simple& easy but if i was a legi. I'd prefer to extract some memories then (re)examine then in my office rather than sitting on the bottom of a cold lake conversing.
    – user68762
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:46

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