(aka Psio-Linguistic Translator)
The TARDIS Voice Integrator telepathically conveys the "gift" of translation to the Time Lord, allowing him to understand any language. The Integrator was invented by a Time Lord named Therde. This Translation Unit can be found on the Type 32 and all later TT Capsules.
A red switch beneath the console controls the translation circuit. If the switch is reversed it will have a "Tower of Babel" effect making it impossible for anyone within the immediate area to communicate. For this reason some operators weld a plate over the switch to prevent tampering.
Right before materialization, a TARDIS will scan a planet's broadcast communications to gather data for translations. The Telepathic Circuits will determine the local language as soon as a TARDIS has materialized. New languages are stored in the Language Bank for future reference. If meaning and structure is detected by the telepathic circuits, then the Integrator will then provide a very sophisticated and very accurate two-way translation for the Time Lord. This is done by telepathically altering his brain so that he perceives the local language as being Gallifreyan. It will appear to the natives that the Time Lord can speak any language. The process picks up on most subtle nuances of conversation without trouble.
This Time Lord gift is shared automatically with any other sapient life-forms by the Passenger Adoption Scanning Terminal. In most cases, anyone who is on board the TARDIS when it dematerializes is screened and adopted by the system. Thus,[/ref] in theory, only the crew of the TARDIS will be able to experience the Voice Integrator.
While there is a limit to the distance at which the Voice Integrator can reach the TARDIS crew, its range is well beyond several light-years. The system can be re-configured to provide automatic translations for those that have not been processed by the PAST, but this is more likely to be noticed by the natives. And some TARDISes have been known to selectively 'adopt' certain acquaintances of the crew even if they haven't travelled in the TARDIS. The system can be retuned to become de-localized, providing the crew with the simultaneous communications of every being within translation range. In most cases this provides little more then an overwhelming babble of noise.
Once a crew member is adopted, the rho waves telepathically alter the subject's brain. If the subject is not familiar with Modern Gallifreyan, they will hear their own native language. The effect is so seamless that inexperienced members of the TARDIS crew often don't notice that they can suddenly speak and understand alien languages. Indeed, the integrator is usually configured so that lesser species won't notice its existence - even if it is translating for them. This illusion can be much more difficult to maintain if the subject remembers being unable to communicate with a specific species or culture before receiving the gift. This auto-conditioning can malfunction if the subject has been hypnotized or inebriated. Some people even have difficulty telling the difference between what they are thinking and what they are saying.
A fully functional Integrator will automatically alter the crew's names so that they sound normal to local aliens. It will also alter the crew's dialect to match whichever regional or cultural group they are currently speaking to at the moment. Conversely, the translated speech of local aliens is often given an additional accent in order to convey the alien's social class or educational level. The accuracy and appropriateness of these accents varies depending on the reliability of the TARDIS. Using the temporal grace circuits the translations circuits can also be set to filter swear words out of conversation (presumably by substituting less offensive words).
If a user is aware of how the Voice Integrator alters their mind, then they can, with significant concentration, bypass its effects and hear the language as it actually sounds (and see the text as it actually appears). While some Time Lords appear to be able to retain every language the integrator has ever given them most lesser species find that that their recall of previous languages (from earlier time zones) is minimal.
The Voice Integrator can translate any vocal language because the speaker has a mind that can be read, and the system can easily handle the scent-based communications used by many non-humanoid species. But the Integrator can't translate extremely primitive languages without assistance from the Animal-Language Translation Circuits. Normally the TARDIS selectively disables these circuits to prevent the crew from being overwhelmed by messages from passing non-sapients animals. Artificially constructed languages, like Esperanto, are often beyond the integrator's capabilities as are some extremely complex languages.
The Integrator's setting can be increased to translate written text if desired. But written text must already be stored in the Data-Banks in order to be translated. This limitation exists because text has no mind that can be read by the Telepathic Circuits. Due to an oversight in the programming, Gallifreyan is not always translated because it is assumed the TARDIS crew knows how to read it. Languages whose written form are very abbreviated or ideographic (such as Osiran Hieroglyphs) can cause the Integrator difficulties. By the end of the Time War, the only written languages not included in the Data-Banks are ones that have been described as "impossibly old."
It is possible (but unconfirmed) that the telepathic systems of the Integrator subtly manipulate the local inhabitants of a given time zone so that the TARDIS crew would be accepted by everyone they meet as being part of their own world. It should be noted that the locals might still see the crew as being dangerous or hostile but they will be perceived as being a known and understood part of that world. It will be very difficult for the crew to convince them that they originate from a point outside their sociological noosphere.
The telepathic circuits can be combined with the Voice Integrator to cause a person's words to come out backwards. Since the system is part of the Telepathic Circuits it can be disabled if all the symbiotically linked Time Lords are mentally incapacitated (such as post regeneration trauma). Under such circumstances, the Voice Integrator will not function until the Time Lord has recovered.
The following color code is used:
- Black: For information from the TV Series, including Dimensions in Time, and 1996 TV Movie.
- Blue: For information from the Novels and Audios including Target, Virgin, BCC, and Big Finish.
- Green: For information from 'licensed' reference sources such as the Technical Manual, Doctor Who Magazine, and the Role Playing Games.
- Red: For information from unofficial sources -The Faction Paradox series, behind the scenes interviews, author's speculation, and popular fan belief.
The TARDIS Technical Index is copyright Will B Swift.