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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 12 2013, 03:04 AM   #1
Merry Christmas
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The Language of Family

In the episode Family, Picard take leave and goes to stay with his brother Robert and Robert's wife and son. I think that the entire time Picard is in France that he and his family are all speaking French, and not English. Yes, we the audience hear the dialog in English, but it is in fact French.

Does this make sense to you?

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Old May 12 2013, 03:10 AM   #2
Third Nacelle
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Re: The Language of Family

Makes perfect sense to me. It's pretty much the same as when we see a scene where two Romulans or two Klingons are talking to each other and we hear English.
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Old May 12 2013, 04:01 AM   #3
GameOn
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Re: The Language of Family

Or England conquered France at some point which explains why they're speaking with English accents.
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Old May 12 2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Re: The Language of Family

So given how old fashioned Robert was, one wonders if he even had a universal translator.
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Old May 12 2013, 03:35 PM   #5
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Re: The Language of Family

We also see Picard study graphics with English text - yet sometimes it seems our UT-equipped heroes can't translate the written word very well. Might of course be that Jean-Luc studies an English document out of habit while speaking French (I could ask for a Finnish-translated online version of National Geographic, but I seldom bother, even though the translation is fairly good), or then he studies a French document and the UTs in our receivers are better than average.

FWIW, we often hear all-Klingon conversations in English while watching Klingon graphics that remain written in the Klingon language, though.

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Old May 12 2013, 08:06 PM   #6
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Re: The Language of Family

Didn't TNG's Code of Honour" refer to French as an obscure language?
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Old May 12 2013, 08:32 PM   #7
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Re: The Language of Family

Certainly. Doesn't mean it would have been a dead language, though. If it only had, say, a billion speakers at most, it wouldn't amount to anything much in the Federation context...

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Old May 12 2013, 09:19 PM   #8
Third Nacelle
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Re: The Language of Family

What I find more strange them seeming to speak English, is that it's 20th century English.

I'm aslo pretty sure the UT works with at least some written languages. How many times has a human starfleet officer been on some alien ship or station and immediately knew how to work a control panel?
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Old May 12 2013, 09:55 PM   #9
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Re: The Language of Family

Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
What I find more strange them seeming to speak English, is that it's 20th century English.

I'm aslo pretty sure the UT works with at least some written languages. How many times has a human starfleet officer been on some alien ship or station and immediately knew how to work a control panel?
As often as the plot requires. Enterprise at least tried to do it right... for a little bit, exploring this difficulty that would arise. Though even they either couldn't understand anyone at all, or instantaneously were able to translate and learn their language. Not much middle ground.
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Old May 12 2013, 11:31 PM   #10
Third Nacelle
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Re: The Language of Family

Well I think the way the UT works is either it understands nothing, or it gets a foothold on a language and figures out all of it. Once it figures out a little vocabulary and syntax, the rest is easy. At least for the translators of the 24th century, which are probably far superior to what Sato had.
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Old May 13 2013, 01:36 AM   #11
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Re: The Language of Family

Ya, it makes sense to me.
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Old May 13 2013, 12:01 PM   #12
Timo
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Re: The Language of Family

What I find more strange them seeming to speak English, is that it's 20th century English.
Why? Surely the setting in our UTs should be 20th (or, nowadays, 21st) century English, even if the setting in Picard's UT is for 24th century English output and possibly 17th century French input.

That is, it's unlikely that any of the language we hear is untranslated. Most often it's probably twice translated - first for the benefit of the heroes, then for the benefit of the audience. Sometimes the heroes don't use translators (say, VOY "Basics") but the audience still does...

Indeed, I have a hard time believing in the concept of "language" in the 24th century setting any more. What possible motivation would Picard, Worf or even Riker have for learning English when they can simply decide to speak Picardian, Worfian, and Rikerian, respectively?

Another problem I have is with the explicit limitations in the application of the UT. Why not translate things like whale speech in ST4? Why doesn't Data ask Spot what sort of food he/she really likes? Can't Crusher tell the microbes to piss off and leave poor O'Brien's brain alone?

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Old May 13 2013, 01:00 PM   #13
R. Star
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Re: The Language of Family

Because the UT is a very plot conscious device.
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Old May 14 2013, 02:29 AM   #14
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Re: The Language of Family

Est-ce que Picard parle francais bien ou mal?
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Old May 14 2013, 03:17 AM   #15
Hober Mallow
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Re: The Language of Family

Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
What I find more strange them seeming to speak English, is that it's 20th century English.
Languages change much more slowly in literate societies than in nonliterate societies. A written standard acts as a slowing force against change. We still learn that splitting an infitive is wrong, even thought infinitives have been splitting unabated for centuries. The interconnectedness of our modern life is acting as another standardizing force which may slow change even further. It's not a totally absurd assumption that English will change very little in the next few centuries.
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In the episode Family, Picard take leave and goes to stay with his brother Robert and Robert's wife and son. I think that the entire time Picard is in France that he and his family are all speaking French, and not English. Yes, we the audience hear the dialog in English, but it is in fact French.

Does this make sense to you?

It's possible. My own idea is that the English language in France simply represents a cultural shift, similar to Anglo-Saxon language and culture infiltrating the Celts in Britain. Picard going home to France and speaking English to his family would be nor more strange than a modern Irishman going home to his family in Ireland and speaking English.
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