Urgo: I didn't mean to.Teal'c: It was not his intention.
Jack, Samantha, Daniel: He didn't mean to.
—Stargate SG 1, "Urgo"
Verbal affectation common to characters who are heavily disassociated from Earth-culture, especially to mark a character as very serious and/or intellectual. Most common with The Spock. Similar to a mild form of Robo Speak - smarter robots will use Spock Speak instead of Robo Speak. Also sometimes applied to characters from the past, perhaps under the misguided assumption that slang is a modern invention.
Spock Speak is a collection of verbal mannerisms designed to show that a character may be functionally fluent in English, but lacks the usual syntax. It distances the speaker from human society, but also gives a sense that the speaker is very smart.
Specific affectations usually include:
- Excessively rigid adherence to proper word use and grammar
- Total (or near-total) avoidance of contractions (except when the actor forgets)
- Avoidance of slang
- Clipped tones and a very precise way of speaking, underplaying emotions (except for a sort of mild disappointment in the listener)
- Heavy use of the Expospeak Gag
- An inability to learn metaphor and figures of speech
- Inability to get or tell jokes, including sarcasm
- Preferring longer or more technical terms to simpler ones ("Affirmative" instead of "Yes")
- Heavy use of understated, single-word reactions ("Fascinating," "Indeed."), without any intensifiers: "Indeed" would work equally well as a response to "Would you like some coffee?" as to "They're going to kill us all!"
- A preference for the passive voice over active voice ("It is done" vs "I did it")
- Ludicrous Precision in estimates of numbers, most often time and distance
Real world note: There are people in the real world for whom Spock Speak is natural. When the size of the vocabulary exceeds by far the level of social skill, people naturally use their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses—or indeed, may not realize that there is something abnormal about their using grammar and vocabulary that is perfectly familiar to them. Autism causes a focus on precision and difficulty recognizing social cues; when accompanied by high intelligence, this focus may make slang and contractions seem pointlessly vague. People with high-functioning autism (for Asperger's Syndrome, "pedantic speech" is a diagnostic criterion), may prefer to speak using something like Spock Speak. In modern times, however, they are taught (or teach themselves) colloquial speech. Before high-functioning autism was an official diagnosis, such people often found themselves at home as university professors—possibly the origin for the Spock-speaking "absent-minded professor". Nowadays, most fictional examples of that stereotype either have such a condition or are subject to speculation (canonical or otherwise) that they do.
Legal jargon can also be considered a real-life case of Spock Speak. Sometimes, all it takes to create a void in a contract or a law is a grammar mistake—in one well-known case, a missing comma allowed one party to a contract to terminate it much earlier than the other party expected, costing the second party millions. As a result, legal documents must be written very precisely and carefully, in order to allow for only one way to understand the text. Usually, this involves writing the documents in a highly rigid and formal grammar, using the legal terms exactly as defined in the laws and the legal terms dictionary, and using any other word exactly as defined in Merriam-Webster's (or the OED, if you're British). However the accepted dictionary definitions of words can still be quite subjective. And a long history of trying to make laws more specific and rigid by using increasingly specialized language has left most laws bloated and confusing. In fact a lawyer's main job is to interpret the written word of the law—hence the need for court cases, as they tend to interpret it in favor of their client.
In addition, some non-native speakers speak this way due to imperfect grasp of the language (and because, unfortunately enough, this is the kind of English taught in schools and universities, while "ordinary" speech can only be learned in the street, by conversing with native speakers). The language learned from a standard educational tape or university course is almost entirely devoid of idiom and local dialect, and very little emphasis is placed on practical use of the language.
Much of literal Spock Speak - what the character Spock says - can be traced back to (of all things) American commercial aviation. Gene Roddenberry worked as a TWA pilot before he moved to Los Angeles. The limitations of 1940s and 1950s communications equipment made it hard for a listener to tell the difference between a quick "yes" and a quick "no" - both would sound like a staticky "uh". "Affirmative" and "negative" were easier to differentiate. Standard, precise language also made it easier for pilots to communicate in emergencies - they didn't have to stop to think what to say. Roddenberry may have based the character of Spock on pilots he knew, in the same way that he based the character of Kirk on Daryl Gates of the LAPD. Yes, that one.
- Totally Radical / Jive Turkey, when someone uses too much slang or an anachronistic kind of slang.
- Delusions of Eloquence, when someone tries to speak like an educated person but ends up doing it all wrong.
- Hulk Speak, when someone speaks with a really poor English.
- You No Take Candle, which is basically Hulk Speak applied to an entire culture.
- Antiquated Linguistics, essentially Spock Speak but with an old-fashioned feel.
- Sophisticated As Hell, Spock Speak mixed with Totally Radical or outbursts of profanity.
- Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi. She speaks like that because she's an "alien-human interface"; in plain English, she's the mouthpiece of an incredibly intelligent and rational alien entity that cannot communicate through speech. However, there is another such interface in the series which is able to pose as an attractive and highly popular schoolgirl, exhibiting none of the "robotic" tendencies of Nagato. Why one is more convincingly human than the other is never explained.
- Fanon claims that the reason the other interface goes Ax Crazy and tries to kill Kyon is because having and showing emotions make her more unstable. While Nagato is stable because she doesn't have strong emotions. This is supported by the fourth novel, wherein her emotional buildup from a previous arc causes a massive and largely unwanted (depending on which fanon camp you sit with) reality shift.
- Miyu in My-HiME. It is not particularly obvious, though, and the later revelation of her being a Robot Girl has been known to take some people by surprise. In Mai-Otome, her manner of speech is more naturalistic, indicating a more favorable role overall.
- Kurau from Kurau Phantom Memory talks in a very emotionless and analytical fashion very unfitting for a twelve-year old right after she merges with the Rynax-entity. She starts talking more normally when she regains her human memories, much to the relief of her father.
- Nia from Gurren Lagann, being a princess, tends to speak in Spock Speak. (At least in translation; in the original Japanese she speaks fluent Keigo.) Memorable is her use of "Well met" over "Hello" as a greeting. Even on her answering machine. Repeatedly Lampshaded.
- Most famous, of course, is her rendering of the Gurren-dan motto: "Are you aware of exactly who I am?"
- Fanon tends to do this to Near from Death Note. Even though he demonstrates his ability to swear, among other things, several times (at least in some translations.)
- In Durarara!! Vorona's speech tends to be a mix of this and... something thanks to the fact that she learned speaking Japanese entirely from textbooks.
- Probably one of the best examples from dubbed anime is Sousuke from Full Metal Panic!, exhibiting most of the above requirements. He almost always prefers "affirmative," speaks in short phrases, has a complete lack of understanding of slang and basically all of the more normal behavior for someone his age. Tessa utilizes a much milder case when she's in command, but in her case it's a choice, and her Not So Stoic moments are more numerous, especially around Sousuke.
- Kuroko, the stoic titular protagonist of Kuroko no Basuke, always speaks very calmly and politely.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- The X-Men's Storm, as well as Magneto and Colossus (and many other minor characters) as written by Chris Claremont. Storm pretty much always speaks this way, even in other-media adaptations, though she doesn't in the live action movies.
- Perennial Fantastic Four villain The Super-Skrull talks like this, like most of his race we've seen so far. In an issue of Young Avengers, his lack of contractions even used to identify him posing as another character.
- Perceptor speaks like this in the Marvel Transformers Generation 1 comic, so much so that other character have trouble understanding him. Shockwave too, but to a lesser extent.
- Those who speak in Mark Trail have incredibly strange diction, using no contractions to speak of and sounding painfully formal, all while using too many exclamation points!!
- James-Michael in Omega the Unknown, due to being raised by robots.
- X-23, having never been exposed to the outside world while growing up, speaks in a very rigid, measured way. She also doesn't use slang and has never once used a contraction.
- T-800 in Terminator 2 and 3, quite surprising for being an early 90's robot; notice, however, that as he starts spending time with John Connor, he also starts picking up American mannerisms.
- Apparently Schwarzenegger had qualms about saying the historic "I'll be back" line, since he, as an ESL foreigner, would never use contractions. Fortunately, James Cameron recognized that "I will be back" just didn't have the same ring to it.
- Also exhibited by Cameron and Chromartie on Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and to a lesser extent by T-X in Terminator 3. Notably, the T-1000 does not show this behavior, and exhibits more "natural" speech patterns.
- It might been seen as somewhat strange, since they put so much effort into making Terminators appear biologically human so they could infiltrate the resistance, but, they were built by machines. So they didn't have any normal patterns to go after. For an example, to create biologic tissue, they wouldn't really need many humans. And in order to get the speech right it would require them to stay for a longer period of time among the humans, which would be very hard.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles may shed some light on this, showing Terminators—sometimes even the same Terminator—doing both. It appears to be a simple matter of whether or not the Terminator in question considers convincing acting to be relevant to the mission at hand. In particular, those that go back in time wouldn't have to worry about being outed as killer robots except in extreme circumstances.
- In the extended version of T2 he only starts mimicking John after his learning chip is set from Read to Read/Write. Seems SkyNet doesn't want its minions thinking for themselves and sets the chip this way when they leave the factory.
- In Flight of the Navigator, Max, the spaceship AI, originally talked like this...until he downloaded the required info from David's brain. Then he speaks like a Totally Radical version of Pee-wee Herman (because it is Paul Reubens supplying the voice.)
- Borat plays by default the language school English version with a couple of funny words and cussing every now and then. Example:
Borat: I require you to install a pussy magnet in vehicle.
- Chance the Gardener in Being There, especially in the film version when we hear him speak, invokes the autistic variation of this trope, albeit without high intelligence. He is mentally challenged and grew up with little human contact, spending most of his time watching TV (before that, he listened to the radio). Because of this, his tone, inflection, etc. is based on how people on TV speak - and Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic. His limited intelligence leaves him unable to understand many questions, statements, etc., but he knows he has to say something in response. Thus his responses are usually quite simple and blunt once he starts interacting with others. Because he sounds intelligent, he is chronically misinterpreted by many of the other characters, who often think he is speaking in metaphors.
Literature[edit | hide]
- George R. R. Martin's recurring character Haviland Tuf is averse to human contact; his habitual usage of excessively formal language helps him to maintain an acceptable emotional distance from anyone with whom he must converse—while permitting him to use biting sarcasm with complete impunity.
- In Steve Miller & Sharon Lee's Liaden Universe space operas, Liadens speak in very polite and frequently roundabout form. This is in part because the stories often draw inspiration from Edwardian romances, and partly because Liadens are a culture where the slightest insult might provoke a lethal duel, depending on the temperament of the one insulted. It also frequently serves as a Translation Convention to give readers a sense of the formalized structure of the Liaden, especially High Liaden, tongue.
- Spoof: In E. E. "Doc" Smith's The Skylark of Space, Richard Seaton is a very intelligent, intuitive genius - who speaks like a 1930's caricature of someone from the Bronx. When asked about this by his then-girlfriend, he launches into a couple of paragraphs of perfectly-grammatical Spock Speak, until forcibly told to shut up by that same aforementioned girlfriend, now exasperated with him. This makes this trope Older Than Television.
- Aximili from Animorphs...when he's not in human form. When he's in human form, he's just crazy.
- It's worth noting that Ax's internal monologue is not quite as formal as his speech, though it is still clearly the thought process of someone foreign to American culture; he's actively affecting a formal tone because he believes that's how a soldier in the Andalite military should act.
- The character of Dominil in Martin Millar's "Lonely Werewolf Girl" is generally considered the most intelligent member of her family, with a double degree from Oxford. She is also considered icy and enigmatic, and when she tries to help her cousins with their band, she tells their guitarist that their stage fright is not something she can empathize with, and his reply makes her ask if he thinks she is lacking in empathy. He lampshades this by responding: "Well, yeah, if you go around saying things like 'It is not something with which I can easily empathize."
- In BattleTech novels, members of the Clans make a point of not using contractions (at least in the classical sense, as several Clan-exclusive terms are at least portmanteaus if not full-on contractions). Given that most Clan characters are warriors they also use many military terms and end up using a form of Spock speak.
- The title character of F.M. Busby's Rissa Kerguelen series early on adopted a disguise with a persona including Spock Speak, and for some reason kept the speech pattern when she dropped the rest of the disguise. She was, however, perfectly capable of using contractions -- if disguised as someone else.
- Nearly everybody in Manticore talks like this in the Honor Harrington series, often taking a dozen more words to get their point across than is really necessary, with absolutely flawless diction all around. It's somewhat justified in that the main characters are all either highly trained and educated starship crews, nobility, or both, but there's no excuse for them still speaking that way when, say, they've been stuck on a prison planet for a year and a half and the narration goes at length to point out how casual they are with each other.
- In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, a sci-fi novel by S.M. Stirling. The Martian language can convey a lot of information simply, but sounds formal when translated into English. Thus Your pleasantly agreeable personality contrasts in an intriguing manner with the brutish power of your appearance is actually You look macho but you're actually sweet and gentle.
- None of the characters in Deltora Quest are capable of using verbal contractions.
- ...unless they're either A)in severe distress or B)evil.
- Jeeves is a master of Spock Speak who predates Spock by about half a century! This trope could legitimately be called "Jeeves Speak", but "Spock Speak" is much snappier.
- The Jeeves-like later adaptations of Alfred Pennyworth do this, too.
- Shane Drinion in The Pale King, who may not be human.
- Spock, of course, in Star Trek: The Original Series. Fascinating.
- Averted in the pilot episode, where he speaks like everyone else.
- In the pilot it was the First Officer, Number One, who spoke Spock Speak. She and Spock were rolled into one character when the high mucky-mucks objected to both of them.
- One of the novels explains that Spock learned English from Earth university textbooks, explaining his rigid sentence structure and lack of contractions, as well as his odd pronunciation of some words ("sen-sores")
- Which is in itself silly, since his mom is Canadian. It's more likely to be an at least semi-conscious choice to have as many Vulcan behavioral tics as possible—he has severe insecurities about how good a Vulcan he is, and about being acknowledged as one by other people. His father talks the same way. T'Pau, T'Pring and Stonn, not being diplomats or with Starfleet, have an even more stilted speech pattern.
- Averted in the pilot episode, where he speaks like everyone else.
- Also, Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Indeed, the way to tell him apart from his Evil Twin Lore was that Lore did use contractions. (Ironically, at the end of the very episode which introduced Lore, Brent Spiner flubbed one of his lines, causing Data to use a contraction.) (Or did he? It's so blatant you have to wonder if it was intentional.)
- Wil Wheaton mentions this in his episode review in Memories of the Future. Apparently Data's use of a contraction at the end of the episode was a deliberate choice made by the actor and director that was never revisited.
- So lemme get this straight: Data can't use contractions but he can speak French!?
- The word can't is the crucial part - his creator made him that way intentionally, because the original version was too close to human and caused problems.
- Not clear actually, when he makes a daughter, one sign that she is already progressing further than he has towards humanity is her spontaneous use of a contraction in conversation. It seems more like Data is CAPABLE of using them and understanding them when others speak, but his own software can't predict when it's appropriate for him to use them, so he doesn't.
- The word can't is the crucial part - his creator made him that way intentionally, because the original version was too close to human and caused problems.
- Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager. And Tuvok, of course.
- Kai from Lexx does probably the best Spock Speak in television history, superior even to the Trope Namer. Lexx, the titular ship, does a pretty decent job of it himself, as does 790 and several other of the less human characters on this show. Pretty much the only ones who don't talk this way are the thoroughly human characters of a quite low level of knowledge about things, Stanley and Xev/Zev, the ones who are typically having things explained to them in perfect expository Spock Speak.
- K-9 and most "advanced" aliens in Doctor Who. Affirmative, Master.
- Zen, Orac, and Avon in Blakes Seven. Confirmed.
- All the Jaffa in Stargate SG-1, although the "indeed" is a Verbal Tic unique to Teal'c. Indeed. (When Teal'c guest stars in Stargate Atlantis, Ronon is apparently the first person to ever mention Teal'c's penchant for such speech, and he is surprised to discover that he does, in fact, say "indeed" a lot.) Parodied in the series finale "Unending," when "indeed" becomes the last word ever said in the show—but this time, it's said by everyone but Teal'c.
- Subverted in "Message in a Bottle"
Jack: You don't have to stay here.
Teal'c: Undomesticated equines could not remove me.
Jack: Wild horses Teal'c, it's... That's a joke. You told a joke.
- Subverted with a twist in "Reunion" from Stargate Atlantis
Teal'c: Your work will continue, only in a different place. You have been bestowed an incredible honor, Colonel Carter. And I believe you should embrace it. And know this; though we may not be leaving with you, SG-1 will never be far away.
Carter: So I can expect you guys to come visit sometime?
Teal'c: Undomesticated equines could not keep me away.
Carter: Nice callback.
- Given that everybody in the galaxy (in fact, more than one galaxy) seems to speak perfect idiomatic English, even to the point of grasping American slang, with nary a Translator Microbes in sight, the Jaffa's use of excessively formal language is probably meant to convey their highly disciplined culture. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't have a sense of humor—it's just that Jaffa humor doesn't translate well.
- Lennier in Babylon 5. Informal speech would be... inappropriate.
- Notable exception: TIM in The Tomorrow People actually speaks much more naturally than many of the non-electronic advanced aliens. One of the Big Finish audios comments extensively on how unusual this is.
- Telling example: in Knight Rider, KITT does not use Spock Speak for the most part (though he does once go medieval on a hacker for compelling him to say "ain't"), nor do the vehicles from Team Knight Rider, but his Evil Twin KARR, and TKR's Evil Counterpart KRO do.
- Also, the KITT of the 2008 series engages in Spock Speak, but his patterns of speech appear to be slowly getting more natural as his AI develops.
- Anya of Buffy the Vampire Slayer developed into this, first as a consequence of being a former demon with limited knowledge of humans. Later it was revealed that she had when she had been an ordinary human she had always used SpockSpeak. Charitably we may assume she was an Aspie. (Her lack of understanding about mortality on the other hand...well, a thousand years is a long time.)
- Lampshaded when Anya says of April, "She speaks with a strange evenness and selects her words a shade too precisely," and Xander responds, "Well, some of us like that kind of thing in a girl."
- Later on Angel, Illyria used this as well, though she occasionally managed to confuse others when using a longer word instead of a short, convenient one. (One humorous example was when she said she and Wesley were "no longer having intercourse." Spike, of course, assumed sexual intercourse and did a Double Take before her real meaning kicked in.)
- Parodied mercilessly in the Saturday Night Live sketch (and subsequent movie) Coneheads.
- Grover of Sesame Street.
- In the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Billy, being the smart one of the group, used lots of Spock Speak, and required the use of Trini to translate what Billy said to the rest of the group. Needless to say that this stopped on the second season when the actress playing Trini left.
- Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is like that. Just let this example speak for itself:
Sheldon: Well, I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you.
- At least he uses contractions.
- He gets better over time. At least, he tries. Apparently, he's "getting remarkable fluency at" urban slang.
- The title character of I Dream of Jeannie spoke with an unusual tone of voice and no contractions. She also misunderstood metaphors, but no more often than any other Literal Genie.
- Temperance Brennan of Bones due to being a literal minded forensic anthropologist did this in the first couple of seasons. Usually saying "I don't know what that means." when her colleagues would make pop culture references. In later seasons however she's loosened up a bit, although she does still sometimes get her slang terms mixed up.
- Kryten from Red Dwarf sometimes does this:
Kryten: "What is this place?"
Rimmer: "It's a pub."
Kryten: "Pub. Ah yes, a place where people go to achieve advanced states of mental incompetence through the repeated consumption of fermented vegetable drinks."
- Ziva David from NCIS speaks very properly, at one point asking "What are contractions?"
- Life On Mars. DI Sam Tyler when interviewing witnesses, because he comes from an era where every word is recorded and saying the wrong thing can get a case thrown out of court. However this only confuses people in The Seventies.
- Castiel from Supernatural: he rarely uses contractions, has a formal way of talking ("I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition"), and doesn't get pop culture or human jokes. Understandable, since he's an angel who hasn't walked among humans for two thousand years.
- Ethan Zobelle, from Sons of Anarchy. There's a reason: he's not a real American, and needs to put some effort into hiding his slight European accent!
- Variation: The Clans, in BattleTech-related properties, speak a sort of slang based on Spock Speak; for example, they use "Aff" and "Neg" (short for Affirmative and Negative) in place of "Yes" and "No". This is added to a host of Russian-derived terms and WikiWords to form an alien but comprehensible dialect of English. They have so long since forgone the use of contractions that they react to contractions as swear words.
- That's not that far-fetched; using contractions in Japanese (for instance "korya" instead of "kore wa") is perceived as harsher.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Double subversion: Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 features a robot who initially talks in Spock Speak... but when the main character asks him to speak in a more understandable way, the robot starts using Totally Radical slang. He later goes back to Spock Speak, much to the relief of both the main character and the player.
- Fujin in Final Fantasy VIII, due to how they translated her single-kanji lines, uses Hulk Speak sentences with Spock Speak words. For instance, she replaces "yes" and "no" with "AFFIRMATIVE" or "NEGATIVE"
- Most of Presea's lines in Tales of Symphonia are some variation on this trope. "I suggest that conversation while in transit impairs our rate of travel."
- Kunzite in Tales of Hearts does the same. Even in combat, where the usual poetic spell chants are replaced with stuff like "Dark weaponry charging complete. Fire!" This is because he's an actual robot Tin Man, and later, he starts declaring things along the lines of "this is my own will!" against his "rival" and the final boss.
- Jugger from Advance Wars: Dual Strike uses this and Robo Speak.
- And yet very occasionally slips into more normal speech patterns, leading the player to wonder if he just does the Spock / Robo Speak because he likes to.
- Hawkeye from Fire Emblem answers everything with the same phrase: "Is that so?"
- Sten in Dragon Age. It appears to be intentional; at least some of the time he's just using it as an excuse to be evasive, and he often gives approval when the Warden points it out.
The Warden: You didn't answer my question.
Sten: Indeed, I did not.
- Mechwarrior 2: 32nd Century Combat, seems to take this trope Up to Eleven. The clans avoid contractions to the point where one Loremaster from the Inner Sphere was shunned by select members of society by using them.
- Fi from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword frequently analyzes situations in the form of percentages.
- EDI from the Mass Effect series almost exclusively uses this, occasionally dipping into Robo Speak. Legion also tends to use a gestalt of Robo Speak and Spock Speak.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- Vaarsuvius, from Order of the Stick.
- Antimony from Gunnerkrigg Court uses Spock Speak, due to a very unusual childhood. When this guest comic was posted, several fans complained that Annie saying "Yeah" in the first panel was out of character. However, she seems to use it less when she's at ease, around friends.
- Apparently, Annie learned it from her father, Anthony, who spoke this way when he was her age:
Donald Donlan: Hey Tony, aren't you coming for lunch?
Anthony Carver: I have matters to attend to.
Donald Donlan: Oh... okay. We'll see you later then.
James Eglamore: "I have matters to attend to." Jeez, who talks like that?
- Faye in Questionable Content, early on in the series when she's deliberately trying to conceal her southern accent, having moved from Georgia to Massachusetts to escape a personal tragedy.
- Theo in Gold Coin Comics.
- Luca in The Meek doesn't use contractions, since his he actually speaking his third language according to Word of God.
- Noah of El Goonish Shive very rarely uses contractions and just comes across as awkward in the flow of his speech.
- Parodied constantly in Futurama, playing off the fact that historical records seem unusually unreliable, yet people often take them at absolute face value. For example, at a museum, an exhibit refers to "auto-mo-cars" as being constructed by "primitive robots". This is technically correct; however, the robots are revealed to be nothing more than robots dressed in primitive human dress (i.e. they're cavemen). It also refers to the car being powered by a "tank of burning fossils", mis-interpreting "fossil fuels" and "gas tank".
- Many of the alien characters on the show use Spock Speak, particularly the Nibblonians and their archnemeses the Brainspawn.
Leela: Nibbler! You--you can talk?
Nibbler: I can do more than talk; I can pontificate!
- Starfire of Teen Titans uses a pretty classic version of Spock Speak: misplaced articles, misinterpreted puns, lack of contractions, the works.
- Transformers Armada's Red Alert thankfully stops after the first use.
- In Transformers Animated, Prowl is constantly saying things like "Fascinating", "Impressive" and "Incredible" when observing organic life.
- Grizzle of Adventures in Care-a-Lot created 'the smartest robot ever' in one episode, which turned out to be a little too logical and spoke entirely using Spock Speak.
- Nicole from Sonic the Hedgehog. Like in the "Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2" and "Flight of the Navigator" examples, when in one episode Sonic insists she "Talk in English!" she starts using more slang than even Sonic. He approves.
- Mojo Jojo on The Powerpuff Girls compulsively repeats his statements, with each repetition sounding more like Spock Speak as he dredges the depths of his mental thesaurus.
- As much Spock Speak as she uses in the comics, Storm has it worse in the Mid-'90s X-Men animated series. For whatever reason, the writers of the show felt the need to have her invoke her power over the weather through long, over-the-top incantations. This may be partly because they felt viewers wouldn't understand what she was doing if she didn't spell it out, partly because she had comparatively little actual dialogue outside of those invocations. As Lampshaded in a Spider-Man/X-Men cartoon crossover:
Storm: Power of lightning, strike again!
Spider-Man: Uh, power of web-shooters, get real sticky!
- The normal implications of this trope are unpleasantly subverted in a flashback in Osmosis Jones, when Frank talks to a boy whose science project can supposedly leach all the toxins out of polluted oysters. Frank, being Frank, pulls one of the oysters out of the water and eats it, then discovers that the boy doesn't talk that way because he's smart—he talks that way because "the doctors say he's got a brain the size of a tangerine." The oysters are still polluted, and Frank throws up at the worst possible moment.
- Wind Whistler and Kimono from My Little Pony both speak in Spock Speak.
- Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic also tends to dip into this.
- In DC Showcase: Green Arrow, this exchange between Green Arrow and Princess Pertida as they narrowly avoid being hit by a coasting airplane while avoiding assassins:
Green Arrow: That dragon almost got us.
Princess Perdita: You do realize I'm 10 and do not require fairy-tale metaphors?
Green Arrow: Sorry. It's my first time rescuing royalty.
Princess Perdita: It is quite a forgivable sin... Robin Hood.
- Lightly poked fun of in one episode of Phineas and Ferb, when the title characters had been planned an Inception-esque trip into the subconscious of Baljeet to cure his fear of contractions(Baljeet considering them the grammatical equivalent of Frankenstein's Monster).
Web Original[edit | hide]
- The character of Two in Tales of MU speaks with a variation of this: as a freed golem, she speaks fairly formally, and especially does not wish to voice any opinion or preference. In the early chapters, she had serious problems saying that she wanted anything. This can be seen in the "Two's Diary" Bonus stories, where she crosses out any line that expresses any emotion or desire. She's gotten better as the story has gone on, however.
- Another example is Two's former roommate, Dee, whose formal speech matches a formal upbringing. She also apologies frequently, at a level approaching a verbal tic.
- Survival of the Fittest version 4's 'Bounce' speaks with excessive formality, which is possibly because English wasn't her parents' first language, although intelligence plays a part.
- As said at the top: Some people with autism.
- And lawyers, because legal jargon is like that.
- With good reason, like in science you want to make sure that you're saying exactly what you mean to say, and even one word incorrectly applied on a contract can create a loophole that may cost someone millions of dollars.
- The medical community tends to do this, especially when recording something on a patient's chart. For example, a nurse can not write "John Doe is asleep" in his chart. She must write "John Doe appears to be asleep". He could be pretending to be asleep (which could be indicative of insomnia, anxiety, etc). The nurse would have no way of knowing if he really is asleep without hooking him up to a bunch of of unnecessary equipment.
- Richard Feynman told a story of how he was in Brazil and couldn't remember the Portuguese word for "so", but remembered a rule where in "ly" in English becomes "mente"... so he had to use "consequentemente", giving this impression to the people he was talking to.
- Foreign language syllabuses generally use the formal, received-pronunciation form of the language, as discussed briefly in the Terminator example above.
- Scientific journals expect to have a written form of Spock Speak in their articles, so even scientists who don't talk that way personally learn to emulate it in writing. This is obviously desirable in pursuit of precision.
- Likewise, a police officer filing a formal report (or even verbally reporting to a fellow officer) will write or speak in a formal manner out of habit; rather than saying 'he wouldn't get out and started yelling at me', the officer would report that 'the suspect failed to comply and became verbally uncooperative'.
- There was a case a couple of years back in Finland where a police officer kept writing his reports in prose instead of formal text and acquired some attention for it.
- I've noticed that when a police officer calls in to a radio talk show as a civilian (responding to the host's on-air request for more information from anyone who cares to call in, rather than formally appearing on the show as a guest), he will usually speak on the subject at hand as if he actually is reading from a formal report. It makes you wonder how an off-duty officer normally communicates with family or friends.
- Normally, unless it's a situation that resembles their work too closely. There is no police formal jargon for anything that isn't police work.
- Done for the same reason lawyers do: Any informality or lack of precision may become an issue in court.
- Welfare and Social Service workers, at least the good ones, will often use this trope in writing of file histories. It aids in evaluating emotionally charged encounters by looking at just the facts as they presented, without getting caught up in value judgements or the perceptions of the person relaying their story.
- Similarly, customer histories at call centres. Due to data protection laws, customers can request a copy of their own file at any time, so employees have to be very careful about their wording when making notes. 'Guided customer through login process' sounds better than 'He forgot his password again'.
- Military personnel can alter between this and a Cluster F-Bomb seemingly at will, especially during radio communication. Precision is quite important when calling an artillery strike in.
- A Cluster F-Bomb is only using one word for lots of emotion, thus causing as little confusion as possible while still expressing utter urgency.
- The logic-based Constructed Language Lojban. You can easily speak complex ideas with unlimited emotion and no language barriers, at the cost of having really weird word-for-word translations.