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In Doctor Who it's established that the reason the Doctor's companions understand any and every alien is because the Tardis surreptitiously implants some kind of translation matrix into their brains. Presumably this remains with them for the rest of their lives, so Sarah-Jane can continue to understand new alien languages she didn't encounter while she travelled with the Doctor. But what about her friends - Maria, Luke, Clyde, Rani and Sky? How did they understand alien languages before meeting the Doctor and travelling in the Tardis?

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A number of the aliens that appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures could speak English anyway, mainly because they were pretending to be human. For example, The Bane used an "image translator" to appear in the form of humans, and apparently, this translated their speech too. The Gorgon that appeared in the third story was telepathic and did not need to speak. The Slitheen, who had already appeared in Doctor Who were attempting to infiltrate Earth and evidently had their own way of speaking English.

The Judoon were able to speak English too:

"Language assimilated. Earth English. You will be catalogued. Species, human."
- Prisoner of the Judoon

We didn't actually learn about the TARDIS translation matrix until the 9th Doctor, and prior to this, we accepted that all aliens in Doctor Who spoke English, and the examples above show that many of them do!

Also worth considering is this - we learned about the translation matrix in The End of the World, when a number of aliens from different planets were gathering to watch Earth dissolve:

ROSE: They all speak English.
DOCTOR: No, you just hear English. It's a gift of the Tardis. The telepathic field, gets inside your brain and translates.

This explains how Rose and The Doctor can understand the aliens, but how were the other aliens expecting to understand each other? If the TARDIS hadn't landed there unexpectedly, would they not have been able to communicate? What about Cassandra, who was originally from Earth? Moxx and Jabe both had a conversation with Cassandra and none of them expressed surprise at being able to understand one another. Could there be other alien technologies that translate the way the TARDIS does?

Logically then, the translation matrix is only really necessary when encountering lazy aliens that don't bother to learn our language, when there is no other translation technology, when travelling to other countries on Earth, or when travelling to Earth's past and encountering ancient languages.

Perhaps Sarah Jane got lucky with her first batch of aliens? Or perhaps it is possible due to her own alien tech, Mr Smith? "Smith" was a Xylok, a member of a crystalline race which crashed to Earth as a meteorite 60 million years ago and was able to interface (or communicate with) Sarah Jane's computer.

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