In the 50th-anniversary special episode The Day of the Doctor, the War Doctor wrote two messages on a wall using a blaster: "No More" and "Gallifrey Stands".

The alphabets that we saw the message written in were English. While the TARDIS can translate, there was no one on Gallifrey who needed English to understand. So, I presume that that wasn't a translation of the TARDIS, but that was really the English alphabet.

What was the point of using English alphabets if Daleks or Time Lords could decipher it?

  • 18
    Clearly the Tardis is translating for us, the viewers, otherwise why would we hear aliens speaking english? We'd just hear them speaking gibberish. ;)
    – Alan
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:39
  • 3
    Willing suspension of disbelief, no?
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 17:46
  • +1 I wondered that too. Especially as he was addressing the Daleks with that text. Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


Although the new and old series depicts several versions of Gallifreyan writing (See "The Deadly Assassin", "The Five Doctors", any console screen in the revived series and "Time of the Angels" for examples), English is often displayed purely for the benefit of the viewers.

A prime example of this is in the episode, "The Angels Take Manhattan" in which the Doctor travels back in time to Ancient China and commissions a vase maker include the word "Yowzah!" in Chinese. Once the vase is discovered by Rory, we see the Chinese script rearrange itself to appear as "Yowzah!" in English. The script itself hasn't actually changed, the animation is rather for the benefit of the viewer to see the TARDIS translation circuits in action. Sidenote: because of the linguistic differences and nature of Chinese writing, this mechanism is actually impossible.

Although not as dramatic or overt, we can assume that the words "No More" are actually in Gallifreyan, but appear as English for the benefit for us the viewers. We might also assume that the Doctor has actually been speaking Gallifreyan these past 50 years, but simply heard as English.

  • 1
    A good first answer. More of these, please!
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 1:05
  • As a matter of fact, this answer suggests the Doctor actually does speak English (in addition to Gallifreyan, of course), so he may as well have written it in English. Though we'll probably never know for sure, unless a future episode bothers to delve into linguistics...
    – Zommuter
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 17:56
  • @Zommuter , I'm having trouble remembering but I think there's a line by the 9th Doctor in which he says he speaks a billion languages. In "The Talons of Wang Chiang", the 4th Doctor specifically mentions speaking all the dialects of Chinese and demonstrates thusly.
    – Stuart Yee
    Commented Oct 17, 2020 at 5:24

You might as well be asking why the Time Lords know the guy as "The Doctor", an English name.

Clearly, they don't; similarly, clearly, he didn't.


Possibly for the viewers benefits. Maybe, even though they clearly speak their own language, they might be able to speak the equivalent of English anyway (The Doctor might be speaking in his own language, but maybe just has a lot of the same vowels and words as the English language does)

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