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In the rings of Akhaten Clara and the Doctor spend some time walking around and talking to aliens. There were a couple of scenes where Clara didn't understand what the aliens were saying (and some where she did - the child for example). The Doctor could talk to them (after all he speaks every language) he then translated for Clara.

In previous episodes the Tardis translates spoken language for the companions. Why didn't this happen there?

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The translation systems of the Tardis are not always easy to understand (see this question).

In-movie explanations:

  • Clara has only recently started traveling with the Doctor, so the translation systems might not be tuned to her brain.
  • They landed right in the middle of a crowded space, with lots of different languages. The Tardis can have difficulties coping with it.
  • The Tardis takes into account the current state of mind/intentions of the companion. It could have sensed that Clara was surprised by the planet full of new things and ruled that it would be better for her to hear the foreign languages as part of the whole wonder. Likewise, it could have sensed the Doctor's intent of surprising her and not translate it for her.

other explanation:

It adds more realism to the market and is funnier/cooler to hear the different voices

  • I think is as good an explanation as we're going to be able to come up with without asking the show's creators - thanks! One other point someone else mentioned was Clara's comment that the Tardis didn't like her. – Liath Apr 10 '13 at 13:17

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