As the question states, do the Borg speak english, or is it a universal translator interpretation? Has this ever been addressed on screen? The Borg obviously have a few million cultures and languages to choose from.

  • Was the universal translator in the era of Star Trek: Enterprise able to do instant translations of previously-unknown languages? There was a Borg episode, and they did give a standard "resistance is futile" message in that one. So if that couldn't be explained in terms of the human translator tech of the time, it would suggest the Borg took care of translation. – Hypnosifl Jul 4 '15 at 18:42
  • @Hypnosifl but if that was the first time that the Borg meet humans, why would they know english yet? Unless the Borg also have universal translator tech. But why would they bother? They really arnt the chatty type. – user16696 Jul 4 '15 at 18:53
  • @cde: Those Borg had been stranded on Earth after the events of First Contact, so it was not the first time they ever met humans. – jwodder Jul 4 '15 at 19:17
  • @cde in that episode most of the borg are actually assimilated humans from earth, so they would have full access to english vocabulary. – user36770 Jul 4 '15 at 20:11

It's never been addressed, but given the Borg's information dense, hive-mind intelligence, if they can recognize a species, they will likely communicate using that language. It would make the absorption of the new species easier. However, given their incredible breath of conquered technologies, a universal translator should be easy enough to incorporate into their communication technologies.

Samples of such investigations of a species can be seen from early Borg actions in the Alpha Quadrant. Memory Alpha's Borg entry recounts:

  • By the 2350s, rumors of an alien race called "The Borg" had reached the Alpha Quadrant, inspiring exobiologists Magnus and Erin Hansen to set out in search of them. Their research took them all the way to the Delta Quadrant before they and their daughter Annika were assimilated in 2356. (VOY: "The Gift", "The Raven", "Dark Frontier")

  • Borg activity in the Alpha Quadrant, including the assimilation of the USS Tombaugh in 2362 and assimilation of outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone in 2364, were complete mysteries to Starfleet. (VOY: "Infinite Regress"; TNG: "The Neutral Zone")

  • My suspicion is the Borg do not randomly absorb species without investigating them for technological developments first. If a species has something they want, the probably absorb smaller elements of the species until they can learn information which will aid them in assimilation.
  • On the rare occasions that the Borg were willing to open a dialog with individuals, they chose a single drone to speak for the Collective. Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated and given the name Locutus in the misguided assumption that such a representative would lower the Federation's resistance to assimilation. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")

See Also: Why aren't we all Borg?

  • "However, given their incredible breath" I think you mean "breadth". – Acccumulation Aug 16 at 3:27

To the best of my knowledge it has never been addressed.

We do know that the Borg had encounters with a range of Alpha Quadrant races including the Ferengi, the Cardassians, the Romulans and the (human) Hansen family prior to encountering the Enterprise-D in TNG.

Based on what we know about the Borg, it's highly likely that by the events of "TNG: Q-Who?" they would be communicating in plain English to avoid any possibility of being misunderstood.


Given the inspiration for the Borg, it's more likely a language inspired by the the non-Anglo Germanic languages, like Spaniard - meaning Visigothic - (including their offshoots in the Americas - Puerto Rican, El Salvadorian, Cubans, etc) Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Hebrew, or Russian, but it's never shown. However Hugh speaks English, but that's possibly because the Borg understand English very well by the time of "I Borg." The English accent is definitely Frank Lopez from Scarface, so we can assume they're supposed to speak a language inspired by the Germanic languages.

  • 2
    If it's not English, why would they speak another, less-common Earth language? The question isn't what is the native language of the Borg, it's what are they speaking when they communicate with Federation members. Do they speak their own language and the Enterprise translates, or have they done the translation and are speaking English? – DavidW Aug 16 at 1:00
  • @DavidW It's not even the Enterprise translating. The translators are built into their combadges. – jpmc26 Aug 16 at 1:36
  • @DavidW I was making your point stronger, not arguing against it, since the translator is a small enough device to carry around pinned to your shirt and all crew members had one on during every encounter with a Borg. This pervasive presence of translation devices makes it even less certain that the Borg were actually speaking in a language humans could understand without a translator; we can't even make assertions about events involving Federation officers physically on Borg vessels because of them. – jpmc26 Aug 16 at 3:14
  • @jpmc26 Ah, apologies, I got the sense of your comment backwards. I either need some sleep or more coffee. :) – DavidW Aug 16 at 3:26
  • I got here from your question and I don't see the argument here either. Even if we suppose that the Borg are Germanic. Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish aren't Germanic languages. Hebrew would have the strongest argument, since its phonology was German-influenced, but most of its grammar remains Semitic (compare the words to Arabic, for instance). – Adamant yesterday

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy