Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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Universal Translators and their plot convenience

Post by 00111010 01000100 »

So I’m watching the Way Of The Warrior parts 1 and 2 again, still an enjoyable extended episode.... hmm.. episodes?
It brings Micheal Dorn (Worf) into the DS9 show, it has the introduction of the Negh’Var - a flag ship that ACTUALLY suits the title of “Flag Ship”... impressively Big Battle ship worthy of the Klingon empire! (Unlike the federations battleship.. the Defiant... sigh). This two-parter is jam packed with action and conflicts, both on personal and quadrant levels. The reservations Worf has about betraying his people to the federation, Capt. Sisko’s decision to rescue the Cardasians and challenge the Klingons to all our war. All resolved rather quickly really but the intensity of those moments ripple though any fan as strongly as a tall glass of root beer from quark’s (hehe). So then why the post about it besides the fan boy-ism’s? Well, here’s something that literally just jumped out at me and makes little to no sense.

BTW. Some others may have picked up on this point in other parts of the forums and while I posted this in the DS9 portion of the forum, it really applies to all the shows where an occurrence of the universal translator should be working but strangely isn’t?

Here goes! Whenever a Klingon is speaking to anyone via view screen (or in person), when a Klingon term is spoken, someone in the group has to translate it for the others who do not speak Klingon. Come again? I know from reading the encyclopedia’s and forums and magazines over the years that present day e.g. ST:TNG and afterwards - the Universal Translator is built into the combadge. So even if the words are spoken face-to-face, such as Dax saying the little “it loses something in translation” bit after making worf nearly blush in quarks bar, we, the audience shouldn’t have to have it translated or wonder what she said? (O’Brian was in uniform + combadge). When gowron says “it is a good day to die” just before attacking the station, why does Sisko look to worf for a translation? This is over the federation’s communication system = automatically translates for all known languages? Thinking about it made me go “huh?”, because this would be a failure in script writing in every episode of every show that this sort of thing happens.

(Sarcastic) Conclusion:
The Universal Translator is actually programmed by Section 31 and was given a A.I. Sense of dramatic pause and timing. Thus making outside viewers wait with baited breath while we hear what was said in a language we do not understand.

I realize that IF everything was always translated, it wouldn’t make for very entertaining speaking plots, but it goes against some things in the Star Trek mythos like using transporters to get around the issue of shooting scenes with ships getting into space. Smart move! (Since then taken away by voyagers Blue-themed “landing mode”). An intelligent decision by writers back when to simplify on-screen issues and budget concerns but in the end, made for an appropriate story/technology tool!

In closing, maybe the UT needs something the transporters have built into them, a Heisenberg-compensator... for all those unpredictable situations which cannot be accounted for.

Edit: So a quick review to make sure my references were correct, rather than trusting the old grey matter showed that while the original Star Trek encyclopedia reference guide for the future doesn’t discuss the implementation of the UT in the sections for “Communicator” pages 54-55, or the “Universal Translator” page 361 being part of the combadges. I reviewed the updated Encyclopedia and found this regarding the UT: The combadges used by Federation personnel in the later half of said 24th century included mini UT’s. . Just an follow on (and edited/abbreviated to remove possibility of CR people getting annoyed)
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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Nothing about the UT makes any sense. We've seen that using one not only translates, but does so in a fashion that you cannot tell the other person is speaking in a different language. The lengths you have to go to in order to make that even vaguely possible are ridiculous - you basically have to believe that the UT can read minds, that it can project what amounts to a new face over both of the people talking... faces whose mouth is moving in accord with the translated language. And that it imitates their voices.

It's so ridiculous that I just write the whole thing off as "yes it's nonsense. Now stop thinking about it and watch the show."
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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Oh man, that’s funny because I edited out that section from my post regarding the UT. It reads brain frequencies! So yes, it is in fact reading minds! Lol.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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Easy answer.... Q did it.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

Post by Graham Kennedy »

One thing I appreciate about Beyond is that they depicted the translator as a plausible thing that actually translates stuff.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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Graham Kennedy wrote:Nothing about the UT makes any sense. We've seen that using one not only translates, but does so in a fashion that you cannot tell the other person is speaking in a different language. The lengths you have to go to in order to make that even vaguely possible are ridiculous - you basically have to believe that the UT can read minds, that it can project what amounts to a new face over both of the people talking... faces whose mouth is moving in accord with the translated language. And that it imitates their voices.

It's so ridiculous that I just write the whole thing off as "yes it's nonsense. Now stop thinking about it and watch the show."
Exactly. To make the translation happen in real time and without a delay and in perfect English is something incredible. Nevermind the movement of the mouth. And knowing when not to translate like when aliens want to communicate in their native language too

I have just put that up with the plot. Just easier to assume we are watching the interactions in a different way.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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McAvoy wrote:
Graham Kennedy wrote:Nothing about the UT makes any sense. We've seen that using one not only translates, but does so in a fashion that you cannot tell the other person is speaking in a different language. The lengths you have to go to in order to make that even vaguely possible are ridiculous - you basically have to believe that the UT can read minds, that it can project what amounts to a new face over both of the people talking... faces whose mouth is moving in accord with the translated language. And that it imitates their voices.

It's so ridiculous that I just write the whole thing off as "yes it's nonsense. Now stop thinking about it and watch the show."
Exactly. To make the translation happen in real time and without a delay and in perfect English is something incredible. Nevermind the movement of the mouth. And knowing when not to translate like when aliens want to communicate in their native language too

I have just put that up with the plot. Just easier to assume we are watching the interactions in a different way.
The thing is, it would make sense if they went with the old 'this is just a representation of what's really happening'. Like those war movies where the Germans speak English, just with a German accent, even when they're talking to one another. The movie isn't trying to say Germans really did that, it's just a convention of "German accent = German language but we don't want to do subtitles cos it's a movie, not a fricken book."

If they'd said that the UT actually does translate what you're saying, and they just depict it as everyone speaking English for audience convenience, that would be fine. But they actually go out of their way to say that no, that isn't so. In "The 37s" they actually have a character in-universe say to everyone "hey, why are you all speaking Japanese?" and "No, you're speaking English to us". Arrrgh!

The UT was tenuous enough as a concept - though you could certainly have it work in that situation, because sure, it would know how to translate any known language, including Japanese. But to do so in a way that makes it look to the other person like you're actually speaking his language? That one moment utterly breaks the UT as a concept.

And honestly, the only reason they didn't have him say "Hey, how come that little thing on your chest is speaking Japanese?" instead is that... well it was Voyager, and so nobody really cared all that much.

As an aside... I was thinking of the best way to get around this language thing for the Coalition universe, and what I settled on was that in that universe there's what amounts to a "galactic language". It's not enforced by anybody, and it's certainly not something every culture speaks. Nobody even knows where it came from, it's extremely ancient and the origins have been forgotten. But it's common enough amongst star-faring cultures that it's pretty much ubiquitous across the galaxy. You'll find it spoken in almost every shop and business that is situated anywhere near any interstellar spaceport, any hotel or market or brothel that deals with tourists, any company that sells to or buys from other races. Naturally, if you land on some previously uncontacted planet they're not going to know it, and even on a civilised planet, if you live in some hick town in the middle of nowhere you might not know it. But if you're flying your starship around and meet a culture you've never encountered before, 85% of the time they'll speak some version of it - enough to enable communication.

I find this very plausible, and it would allow the two basic types of language issue you always get in sci-fi - one, how can you speak to aliens easily. And two, what if the writer actually wants aliens who can't be understood.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

Post by RK_Striker_JK_5 »

How does the Universal Translator work?

It works very well. Unless the plot requires it not to.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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RK_Striker_JK_5 wrote:How does the Universal Translator work?

It works very well. Unless the plot requires it not to.
Q did it.

Because he thought Hoshi was useless, and didn't want more starships with useless hoshi's.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

Post by McAvoy »

AlexMcpherson79 wrote:
RK_Striker_JK_5 wrote:How does the Universal Translator work?

It works very well. Unless the plot requires it not to.
Q did it.

Because he thought Hoshi was useless, and didn't want more starships with useless hoshi's.
Hoshi was more useful than the black helmsman. In fact she had a nice character arc out of them all. She is the only one that seemed to grow over the seasons.
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

Post by AlexMcpherson79 »

Never said that was my opinion of her, just that she didn't actually get much to do - though Travis got even less I agree, but Autopilot has been a thing for over fifty years already ( I think?) whereas in ENT it was supposed to be that they didn't have the UT, yet didn't really use the fact that Hoshi is there to learn languages fast to assist in communication. Pretty much every appearance of the klingons should have been them speaking klingon and the crew scratching their heads going "wut?" and Hoshi having to educate them all while learning as she went about klingon culture.

Hell There's a story arc for her right there, starting in the pilot, Hoshi doesn't just learn the language, but by the time the show is over is well versed in the Klingon Culture... and so we get this cute little linguist who can talk down a six foot six klingon warrior.

Travis could have his own series-spanning arc, he goes from 'I'm just a pilot' who looks at the universe with enthusiasm to being more of a security officer who happens to fly the ship, and start out gullible, end the show paranoid...

Reed could be an "Ex-James Bond" (not necessarily the name though) and only realised once he was on the NX-01 that 'oh shit'...

hm. Sorry Sidetracked.

splitting of into another topic.

but yeah, the UT is that 'reality breaking' that it takes Q to explain the problems, so why not 'Q made it'. and you just know he would look down on Hoshi, Uhura and... "oh yeah, TNG didn't have one" did it?!
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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AlexMcpherson79 wrote: Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:27 am Easy answer.... Q did it.
Belated but
Ahahahahahaha! :)
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Re: Universal Translators and their plot convenience

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McAvoy wrote: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:08 am
AlexMcpherson79 wrote:
RK_Striker_JK_5 wrote:How does the Universal Translator work?

It works very well. Unless the plot requires it not to.
Q did it.

Because he thought Hoshi was useless, and didn't want more starships with useless hoshi's.
Hoshi was more useful than the black helmsman. In fact she had a nice character arc out of them all. She is the only one that seemed to grow over the seasons.
Ensign Mayweather has had his moments.. umm so just a few, but he had them. Hoshi kinda annoyed me during the first season and mayweather was as south park put it, the “token”. I do agree with you that hoshi’s character evolved over the 4 seasons while ensign Mayweathers didn’t evolve but just was there... like the local taxi driver that always seems to be driving the cab and doing nothing else.

Having a human character to translate makes a lot more sense than having the Q-like Omni-intelligent universal translators. In RL, there are people who specialize in learning new languages to assist in communications between different cultures. A learned person can understand cultural taboos and help with preventing awkward confusions when speaking. UT’s cannot do that and have made some serious errors over the years (including deaths and wars) because they could only translate simplistic words and not meanings. See “Picard and Tamar at tignagra” for a clear example of this! 8-)
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