One of the central issues in this question:

Is Picard actually fluent in French?

is the extent to which French is in daily use anywhere. Various commenters questioned what evidence I would interpret as evidence of Picard's fluency, and we have yet to see irrefutable evidence, just strong hints at its likelihood. I indicated that the issue is clouded by Data's calling French "an obscure language" and that even any evidence that there are others on Earth who converse in French fluently on a daily basis would massively bolster the case. Yet we have none.

So, here's the question:

Do we have any direct evidence that any other Earth languages at all (besides Federation Standard1) are in daily common use or are the native language for any group?

Things I would not consider direct evidence a living language:

  • The fact that we know a culture exists in 350 years, doesn't necessarily mean their language is still spoken as a first language

  • Acknowledgement of ancestry ("Squire of Gothos") or a passing knowledge of a language

  • Singing common songs

  • People having an accent when speaking English doesn't mean it's not their first language. It merely indicates regional variation.

  • Probably other things. If in doubt, let's discuss in the comments.

Examples of great evidence:

  • A conversation between people

  • A character using another language informally with no particular context. For example, reading in another language just because it's natural to them.

  • Any reference that some other language is a character's native language

  • etc.

1 i.e. English, assuming you are viewing the show in its original language

  • 2
    Hoshi's parents speak Japanese at home; HOSHI: Come in. This is a nice surprise. ARCHER: How'd it go with your folks? HOSHI: I think I might need to brush up on my Japanese. - chakoteya.net/Enterprise/52.htm. Obviously this is pre-Federation though
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2018 at 16:34
  • 3
    Uhuru speaks fluent Swahili and has to re-learn English in TOS: The Changeling. Chekov hears Russian in TOS: Spectre Of The Gun
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2018 at 16:38
  • 3
    Muniz speaks Spanish when he's delusional with blood-loss in DS9: The Ship
    – Valorum
    Apr 25, 2018 at 16:40
  • @Ash: That never happened. If it had, that would have been put up as an answer on the linked question long ago. chakoteya.net/NextGen/178.htm Apr 25, 2018 at 17:56
  • @ThePopMachine Sorry you're quite right, I was thinking about the conversation with Robert about wine, it's about his palate not his accent.
    – Ash
    Apr 25, 2018 at 18:19

2 Answers 2


Several Earth languages are mentioned in TOS, but none are specifically identified as Federation Basic.

"Tomorrow is Yesterday":

KIRK: Welcome aboard the Enterprise.

CHRISTOPHER: You speak English.

KIRK: That's right. You can step off the transporter

"Space Seed":

MCCOY: Well, either choke me or cut my throat. Make up your mind.

KHAN: English. I thought I dreamed hearing it. Where am I?


KIRK: We're real enough.

COCHRANE: You speak English. Earth people?


COCHRANE: What's the theory behind this device?

KIRK: There are certain universal ideas and concepts common to all intelligent life. This device instantaneously compares the frequency of brainwave patterns, selects those ideas and concepts it recognises, and then provides the necessary grammar.

SPOCK: Then it translates its findings into English.

COCHRANE: You mean it speaks?

"The Doomsday Machine":

SPOCK: Impulse and warp engines operative, transporter and communications under repair. Random chance seems to have operated in our favour.

MCCOY: In plain, non-Vulcan English, we've been lucky.

SPOCK: I believe I said that, Doctor.

"Wolf in the Fold":

COMPUTER: Redjac. Source Earth, nineteenth century. Language, English. Nickname for mass murderer of women. Other Earth synonym, Jack the Ripper. KIRK: Jack the Ripper?

"The Changeling":

UHURA: The dog has a, The dog, (something)

CHAPEL: Not Swahili, Uhura. In English. The dog has a ball. See? B, ah, ll. Ball. Now you go ahead.

"Bread and Circuses":

FLAVIUS [OC]: Don't move! Hands in the air!

SPOCK: Complete Earth parallel. The language here is English.

"Bread and Circuses":

FLAVIUS: Are you trying to be funny?

SPOCK: Never. Colloquial twentieth-century English. An amazing parallel.

"Spectre of the Gun":

MELKOT [OC]: Aliens, you have encroached on the space of the Melkot. You will turn back immediately. This is the only warning you will receive.

SPOCK: Vulcan, Captain.

KIRK: English.

CHEKOV: It was Russian, sir. Every word.

UHURA: No, Captain. It was Swahili.

KIRK: Interesting. Telepathy.

These episodes are enough to show that the normal language aboard the TOS era Enterprise is English.

in "The Man Trap":

UHURA: I see. So naturally, when I'm lonely I think of you.

CREWMAN: Ina cuvanea mwanamke turee.

UHURA: Una kafeeri Hur. You're Swahili?

Some French and German is spoken in "The Squire of Gothos":

KIRK: Not yet. Put it on stun, not to kill, DeSalle.

TRELANE: DeSalle, did you say? Un vrai Francais?

DESALLE: My ancestry is French, yes.

TRELANE: Ah, monsieur. Vive la gloire. Vive Napoleon. You know, I admire your Napoleon very much.

KIRK: This is Mister DeSalle, our navigator. Doctor McCoy, our medical officer. Mister Sulu, our helmsman, and Carl Jaeger, meteorologist.

TRELANE: Welcome, good physicianer and honourable sir. (bows low)

SULU: Is he kidding?

TRELANE: Und Offizier Jaeger, und der deutsche Soldat, nein? (gives a little Prussian salute then marches around) Eins, zwei, drei, vier. Gehen vir mit dem Schiessgewehr.

Since Desalle said that his ancestry was French, it is quite possible that he didn't speak French himself. For reasons of diversity it would be better if Jaeger was German born, but I don't have any evidence whether Jaeger spoke German.

So English is established as the normal working language aboard the TOS era Enterprise, English is established as Kirk's native language, the extraterrestrial language Vulcan is established as Spock's native tongue, Russian is established as Chekov's birth language, and Swahili is established as Uhura's native language.

In the era of TOS, at least three languages, English, Russian, and Swahili, are still people's native languages on Earth. Since only one of them could be Federation Basic, there are at least two other languages in daily use on Earth in the era of TOS.

So the question is whether that situation changed in the century between the TOS era and the era of TNG.

  • @MA, I was using "Federation Basic" as a stand-in for whatever language is commonly spoken. I wasn't really looking for evidence of what language that is (English), but this aspect of the answer is good nonetheless. As any rate, do we have anything after TOS era?? Apr 25, 2018 at 20:05

As for the TNG/DS9/VOY, in VOY "Tattoo", he have a flashback to Chakotay's youth:

KOLOPAK: I don't want you to go wandering off.
YOUNG CHAKOTAY: I'm not. I'm just looking at something.
KOLOPAK: Antonio.
(Kolopak speaks the local language to their one of their guides. Antonio replies in the same language.)
KOLOPAK: He says you're quite a scout, a kep-o-ne.

Although this technically satisfies the question, it violates the intent since the entire point of this encounter is that they are interacting with isolationist natives not integrated with greater Earth/Federation society.

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