Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reader Scott F. wrote in to ask, "The Wonder Woman moved hand-waved how the Amazons knew English, but have the comics ever explained how they understood Steve Trevor? Surely if they've been locked away on Paradise Island since ancient Greek times, they'd all be speaking ancient Greek and not understand a word of English!"
As Scott notes, the Wonder Woman movie did, in fact, come up with a bit of a hand wave explanation for why they speak and understand English. After Steve Trevor is rescued by Princess Diana in the waters off of the shores of Themyscira, he is followed by a group of German soldiers. These German soldiers, of course, speak English as well, including to each other. That is obviously just poetic license for the movie, as obviously the Germans would not speak English to themselves (it is interesting, though, that they chose not to go with subtitles). However, once the Germans have been defeated and Steve is being held as a prisoner/guest by the Amazons, he and Diana talk some more and he has a lot of questions for her (he, after all, already answered every question they had for him while he was wrapped up in Diana's Lasso of Truth, so he HAD to tell the truth). One of his questions is, "How do you speak English?"
Her answer, like we said, is just a hand wave and doesn't REALLY address the topic.
She simply notes that they speak hundreds of languages and that they serve as "the bridge to a greater understanding" for mankind.
It still doesn't REALLY explain how an island that is cut off from the rest of the world would understand modern day English, but whatever, I guess it IS an answer.
How about the comic books, though?
Wonder Woman made her debut in 1941's All-Star Comics #8 by William Marston and H.G. Peter. In that short story, an American, Steve Trevor, crashes on to Themyscira...
Now, the fact that they appear to be speaking English to each other doesn't mean anything. That, again, could clearly just be poetic license.
After all, they later explain in a nice bit of epic info dropping, that the Amazons have been cut off from mankind for over a thousand years...
So what's the dealio? How can they understand English? CAN they understand English?