It just seemed strange that an ancient race that existed billions of years before the human race would use English.

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    This is just speculation, but I'd say there's no reason to think they were stuck with the same words of power for billions of years, perhaps they could create new "magical" phrases (which we could imagine as some variation on block transfer computation if we don't want real 'magic' in the Doctor Who universe) each time they learned a new language. – Hypnosifl Dec 31 '14 at 19:13
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    How do you know they were in English and not some other language that you heard as English, thanks to the TARDIS Translation Circuit? – KSmarts Dec 31 '14 at 19:19
  • @KSmarts - There's no need to assume their words must have been in an alien language though, because Shakespeare was able to reverse the Carrionite "summoning" using his own words, which were obviously spoken in English. Since the Carrionites had presumably learned English to mix into human society (unless they had their own translation device), and both Carrionites and Shakespeare used the same type of stylized Elizabethan language to perform "magical" feats, I think it's reasonable to guess the Carrionites were using English words too, since we know they could work just as well. – Hypnosifl Dec 31 '14 at 20:06

There are two possibilities.

  1. The Tardis acts as a universal translator. The words may not have been in English but the Tardis could have been translating them.

However, that doesn't explain the words in the play itself which leads to possibility #2.

According to Tardis Data Core:

Their science was largely implemented using words alone, without much use of instrumentality, suggesting their powers were derived from the lexical equivalent of block transfer (which used pure mathematics to reshape reality).

Based on that, one could conjecture that the words are somewhat immaterial compared to the math involved. The Carrionites could read a grocery list of milk, eggs, bread, cheese, diapers, etc. so long as it added up-so to speak. They were able to use English because the underlying math is more universal.

  • Ah that makes sense, hadn't thought of it like that. Thanks! – thnkwthprtls Dec 31 '14 at 19:19
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    Note that the TARDIS data core thing about block transfer is just speculation, though...the fact that the Doctor needed a verbal genius like Shakespeare to fight the Carrionites (the Doctor told him 'you're the wordsmith, the one true genius. The only man clever enough to do it') suggests it wasn't simply a matter of translating mathematical ideas into language. I would speculate it was somehow analogous to block transfer computation, or involved subconscious computation of some kind, but it was less mathematically precise and more intuitive/holistic. – Hypnosifl Dec 31 '14 at 20:09
  • Excellent point. It bears mentioning though, that while the Doctor may understand the technical nature of what the Carrionites do, using Shakespeare would make the most sense. He was a natural at using their "technology" and he had been in contact with them/under their control. – geewhiz Jan 1 '15 at 15:29

Given that Shakespeare's words would have been English and his words had such power I assumed that the language does not matter only how its used and applied. I think it would be strange that an ancient language would have power and modern one would not as they are both languages. Unless it was more fantasy than scifi.

  • The question is asking specifically about why the carrionites words were in English, when they existed long before English was created. – Edlothiad Feb 14 '17 at 12:07
  • @Edlothiad I think this answer is saying that language doesn't matter - the Carrionites' words weren't less powerful just because they were in English, as Shakespeare's English words also had power. – Rand al'Thor Feb 14 '17 at 13:06
  • @Randal'Thor, yes sorry. It would seem I jumped the gun in this case. Although it wasn't very well worded and was quite confusing to understand even after having read through it several times, and as above other users were similarly confused. – Edlothiad Feb 14 '17 at 14:29

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