Along with speaking English, most intelligent aliens look a remarkable amount like humans. It is amazing that creatures developed so similarly, even though we lived in different planets and different galaxies. Even the Breen, a species in Star Trek whose bodies are never seen except completely encased in suits, are bipedal. The Breen are mysterious, with only guesses regarding why they wear the suits and what they look like underneath. They seem so foreign, yet at the same time, so similar in their two-legged-ness. Not only are they bipedal, but like humans, they also have two arms and one head. I know that the Alien Actors Guild (AAG!) only allows bipedal aliens to join, making it extremely difficult for film or television to employ non-bipedal creatures. However, producers could make more effort towards equal representation of the non-bipedal variety.
Farscape does the best job so far on Earth at including aliens with multiple extremities in major and positive roles. Pilot is one of the few non-bipedal aliens to serve as a main character. Moya, the spaceship, is also without legs, although with great propulsion, and is a major element in the show. Indeed, the series could not exist without some form of Moya. I hope she asked for a raise. Although Rygel XVI isn’t exactly without two legs, the fact that the deposed Hynerian leader flies around on his Thronesled most of the time, rarely walking or showing his legs, makes him appear non-bipedal at times.
Shows are making progress towards the inclusion of more or less legs. However, it will be a long time before the leggy or leggless creatures feel accepted in the hearts of earthlings.
It may be British English, American English, or Australian English, but indeed, most aliens speak English. Perhaps this all began because “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” many spoke English. Maybe that’s where we learned the language from. At the time of the Stargate film in 1994, aliens in the Stargate universe did not in fact speak English. Between 1994 and the beginning of 1997 series, aliens in multiple galaxies had all learned English. Perhaps Daniel Jackson taught them while he was living on another planet or they simply heard Earthlings were coming (just the American English speaking kind) and they wanted to be prepared. I appreciate the effort, especially in such a short time.
There are a few aliens out there who don’t speak English, such as all sorts of species in Star Trek and in Farscape. Apparently those crews were able to travel far enough to find areas of space that English hadn’t pervaded, at least until a wormhole brought Ben Browder and Claudia Black to Stargate Command and the world of English-speaking aliens. Oddly though, the translator microbes in Farscape gave an Australian accent to those speaking, even though the listener spoke with an American accent. What an odd translation quirk!
The tenacious Star Trek crew was able to understand alien-speak via the “universal translator.” The universal translator worked on the basic scientific principle of magic. With a click of a button, magically everyone could understand each other and the camera could record English-speak. For the uninitiated, “universal translator” is code for “writers’ pitiful attempt to deal with alien communication problems.” At least they made an attempt, albeit a sad one.
The influence of English across the universe is amazing and unbounded. With this sort of power, I don’t see how non-English speaking cultures here on Earth have any hope.